What it takes to set up house in New Caledonia

I hadn’t forgotten how challenging it can be to “set up house” in New Caledonia. Before arriving on the island, I knew it would take up to 3 weeks to get Internet access, and to secure that we would need a bank account.

The morning after we arrived (falling into bed at 1 in the morning after 4 days of travel), we were at the bank at 9.00 to request an appointment. We were told to come back with the following papers for both my husband and I before they could consider giving us an appointment:

– Proof of residence
– Proof of identity
– Current work contracts or last three payslips
– Last three bank statements from our bank in Europe
– Our “livret de famille”

When we said it would be hard to get the last three bank statements, they said to consult the Internet. We explained that we did not have access to the Internet, which was why we were here. Alas.

To make matters slightly more complicated, all our luggage had been lost in travel. Ideally those last three bank statements would be there, in the lost luggage. By some strange oversight, they were not. One was in our forwarded mail and the other two were in our shipment from Europe (that were miraculously delivered the afternoon after we arrived).

Bref, we found everything they needed and in the rain, my husband walked to the bank to open our account.

The other thing we did in the rain was to try to find a car rental place. We found one. No cars available until the following week. Where in the world had we landed? This wasn’t Paris for heaven’s sake!

But bank account opened on the Wednesday evening, Thursday we were able to sign up for a 3G subscription (for this you also need a bank account). On the Friday, we were able to sign up for cable (without it, you have 2 local TV stations; as the Olympics are showing right now and we had already missed the opening, we were keen to get on line). Today (Saturday), it was installed at 7.30 in the morning. Yes, you read right. 7.30 on a Saturday – the day starts early here.

Food? We walk to a local overpriced shop and go to the local market. A colleague’s wife kindly drove us to a bigger shop on Friday, where prices are better but still out of this world (a post will follow on prices shortly). We’ve had to buy a few very cheap clothes as our luggage still has not arrived (but is on its way).

School? That will come sometime next week once we have a car.

Telephone? That will also come next week as the fastest appointment is this coming Monday. For this, a bank account is also needed.

Mobile phone? Done. We just needed to come with a deblocked phone and be ready to spend 55 euros on a card that you refill as needed.

Broadband access? Well, in another 3 weeks, following our appointment with the phone company …

We’re getting there, one day at a time.