How to Buy Real Estate on Tahiti

Photos of huts surrounded by bright, clear blue water can make life in Tahiti seem all-too-appealing, especially if you’ve spent most of your adult life surrounded by concrete and cubicle walls. You may even have visited Tahiti on vacation, leading you to glamorize it as “the good life.” But to buy real estate on the island of Tahiti requires authorization from the French Polynesian government, and you’ll also have to obtain residency on the island once you move there.

Real Estate Tahiti

Tahiti is a French Polynesian island located a sizable distance from all the main continents. That remoteness lends to its beauty and exclusivity, but it has some downsides, as well. Most of the goods you’ll find on the island are imported from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and China, which drives up the cost of everything from toiletries to food.

If you have dreams of buying a house in Tahiti, it’s important to know a little background first. To date, most home purchases are made by local residents. In fact, until 2012, non-Tahitian residents could only buy 20 percent of a property. That has led to a low expatriate population, making it tough to find nearby residents who are new to the island, as well.

Cost of Tahitian Real Estate

Although real estate in Tahiti is far from affordable, it may not be much of a stretch if you currently live in one of America’s more expensive areas. Someone moving to the island from Los Angeles probably won’t see as big a jump as someone coming from a lower-cost area like Memphis or Indianapolis.

Often non-locals looking to buy land in Tahiti are primarily interested in purchasing vacation property on the island. With easy access to the island via multiple airports, it can be a great getaway for those who are free to travel throughout the year. By visiting, you also skirt the residency requirements to live in Tahiti, although you’ll still need a passport. As long as you’re staying less than 90 days, you won’t need a visa.

Government Authorization to Buy

Buying a house in Tahiti is a bit more complicated than it is in America. Before you can purchase any land on the island, you’ll need approval from the French Polynesian government. The government is most likely to approve purchases if your presence will boost the economy. If, for instance, you’re building a big hotel or opening a restaurant on the island, you’ll be seen as an asset and more likely to get approval.

Getting authorization to purchase real estate on Tahiti can be a time-consuming process. You’ll have to wait for the go-ahead before you can finalize the purchase. If you’re buying an existing home, it’s common for multiple owners to be attached to a single property, which means you’ll also have to get the approval of each of them before the sale can go through.

Requirements to Live in Tahiti

In addition to the complications of buying property, you’ll also have to meet the requirements to live in Tahiti. Within two months of arrival, you’ll need to apply to the administration of the High Commission of the French Republic in French Polynesia for approval to reside on the island permanently. You’ll need to get this approval before your visa expires.

There are two types of residence permits. A temporary permit is valid for six to 12 months, while residence cards will allow you to remain for up to 10 years. To get the latter, you’ll need to show you lived in French Polynesia for at least five years. If you plan on buying a house in Tahiti and you can’t prove five years of residence, you’ll have to put some time in on the island before you can qualify for your residence card.

Along with the requirements to live in Tahiti, it’s important to note that locals speak Tahitian. In more touristy areas, you’ll find workers speak English, but if you’re planning to take up residence, you’ll want to learn Tahitian. Some local residents will also speak French, and if you know French already, you’ll have a leg up in that area.