Expat Cook Islands

The Cook Islands is one of the most isolated group of islands in the world, but offers visitors and expats tremendous beauty. Anyone who wishes to become an expat in a truly exotic place should visit the Cook Islands.


The Cook Islands are located near the equator and has a pretty stable climate. There is a dry season and a rainy season during the year. The rainy season falls between November and March. Rainfall usually occurs in the late afternoon. This is welcomed by many as the light rain cools the island down. Temperatures are usually around 80 degrees during the rainy season, but drop a few degrees in the dry season, which happens from April to October. There is plenty of sunshine on the Cook Islands and this country does not experience severe weather regularly.

The water surrounding the islands is warm, clear, and supports some of the most interesting and beautiful marine life in the world.


The Cook Islands are located in the South Pacific and have a population of 14,000. There are a total of 15 islands and the capital island is Rarotonga. The Cook Islands are unspoiled, unlike many other Polynesian islands which have become commercialized. 90,000 tourists visit the islands each year. They enjoy the non-commercial feel and the utter beauty of the islands, people, and marine life. The government is stable and is considered to be a self governing parliamentary democracy. The total area of all the islands combined is about 93 miles. The Cook Islands is associated with New Zealand and relies on her for defense and foreign policy.

Tourism is the Cook Islands’ main industry. Other industries include pearl farming, fruit exporting, and craft creation. Visitors who intend to stay for a short time only need a passport and may stay for a month. Visitors who want to stay longer than a month must apply for a visa and extension at the Immigration Department. A small fee must be paid and an application must be filled out. Visitors may apply for this visa once on the island. More information about visa and residency requirements can be found at The Cook Islands.

Tax System

New enterprises must be registered with the Cook Islands Development Investment Board. There are many incentives for businesses, but also restrictions that attempt to prevent foreign investments from negatively interfering with Cook Island businesses. Taxes are levied in the Cook Islands and anyone planning to stay there long term should contact a tax lawyer or the government to find out what their liability will be before moving there long term.

Medical Care

There is medical care on the island, however people who become seriously ill or injured are usually evacuated to New Zealand. Some islands are remote and medical care may not be accessible. Short term visitors should consider purchasing travelers’ insurance that includes a medical evacuation component.

Real Estate

Purchasing real estate in the Cook Islands can be difficult for foreigners. Anyone who wants to invest in real estate on the islands must first obtain approval and register their plans with the government.

Foreigners are restricted from buying land. They may however lease land for a maximum of 60 years. Most businesses or individuals can lease land for up to 5 years without any restrictions. In order to become a Cook Islands resident, visitors must first obtain both a work and residence permit.

Finding a home on the Cook Islands can be difficult due to the small real estate market. There are no high rise condos or huge apartment buildings. Most real estate falls into the category of single family houses.


While the basic necessities are available, shopping is not huge on the Cook Islands. Tourists that come to these islands enjoy the lack of commercialism and as such there are only a few shops and markets there.

Cook Islands citizens are extremely warm and have a wonderful culture. There is plenty to do including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and boating. Nature lovers and those who enjoy the outdoors will find that the Cook Islands is the perfect place to call home.

Cost of Living

The Cook Islands’ cost of living is categorized as affordable/moderate. Housing can be expensive, since most accommodations target tourists. However, those who live with island residents can lead a very affordable life. Since these islands are non-commercial, there are relatively few things (besides basic necessities) to spend money on.

Map of Cook Islands