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Why Is Someone Trying to Swap Beachfront Land in Fiji For a House in ... Northern N.H.?

Courtesy of Tod Geer

There are plenty of strange deals on Craigslist, and behind the best of these, there’s often a story to be had. For example, right now, there’s a gentleman looking to swap beachfront property in Fiji for land in northern New Hampshire. We reached out to the guy making the offer to learn more about this seemingly lopsided arrangement.

(Editor’s note: we highly recommend listening to this story.)

You may dig New Hampshire. Your cup may overfloweth with 603 pride. But man, Fiji. Fiji sounds good.

“We were just going to walk to the store to get some coconut milk for the coffee,” explains Tod Geer, reached via scratchy cell phone line earlier this week.

Geer lives on Fiji’s main island. To make a little money, he lets tourists take pictures with his pet boa constrictors. It costs extra to wrap them around your neck, but that’s a different story for a different time.

A couple of years ago, Geer bought some land on another Fijian island. It’s 6 acres, totally private, with a long stretch of shoreline.

Geer shot a short video to help spur interest. There are no roads, so you have to boat in. He hops off the skiff, wades through the clear water. There are coral reefs and diving spots nearby.

Then he climbs up the hillside.

“Okay, I’m on top, of what I would call the greatest spot to build a place on this 6 acres. Right on top of the bluff, there’s the water,” says Geer. “So this would be your view with the house right here.”

Geer’s plan when he bought the land was to build his own house here, but he never got it together to arrange for the construction. He’s now 60 years old, and decided it’s better to let someone else take it on.

“I just thought, well, I’ll go back to New Hampshire and buy a little place, and thought maybe I can swap this land.”

Credit Courtesy of Tod Geer
Tod Geer with his daughter Caitlyn and a pet in Fiji.

Geer knows New Hampshire. A while back, when he was still living and working in his native California, he bought an old church in Wolfeboro that he planned to turn into a bed & breakfast. It was going to be his retirement job, after spending 25 years as a Los Angeles firefighter. But then, the Wolfeboro church plan got, you could say, sidetracked.

“Well, when I decided to retire from the fire department, and I owned the church then, the fire department captain said, ‘hey you are going to have to use your sick time up or you are going to lose it.’ So I said, ‘plenty good, I’m going back to Fiji.’ So I called in sick, headed down here for about 10 days.”  

Geer had vacationed in Fiji several times prior. He’d hang out, and sail around the islands. On this trip, in 2004, he happened to run into a friend, who introduced him to a local woman, named Paulina.

“I said, ‘hey, wanna go have dinner,’ and she said ‘okay.’ A couple dinner dates turned into an overnight stay, then I went back, worked one more day on the fire department and retired.

“Went back to New Hampshire, kept working on my church to get that opened up, and, I just happened to call Paulina. I just mention, ‘hey it was nice to meet you, I’ll be back in a couple of months, I’m back in New Hampshire working on my place, and duh duh duh, and I just said, so are you pregnant?’ And she said, ‘yeah, I am.’”

“I was just kind of being cocky. And she said yeah.”

Geer was 46 years old at this point. Paulina was 22.

“Yeah, we are still friends. Paulina has since married. She married a police man here, and had four more kids. Three more boys and another daughter.”

Credit Courtesy of Tod Geer

In light of this new situation, Geer put the Wolfeboro bed & breakfast on hold, and moved to Fiji full-time to raise his new daughter, Caitlyn. She’s grown up on the island, spending time with both Tod and Paulina.

And every so often, Tod and Caitlyn have travelled to the U.S., including to New Hampshire. They even stayed in the Wolfeboro church for a while before he sold it off. But Caitlyn was too young to be away from her mom, so they kept returning to Fiji.

Now, though, Caitlyn is a teenager, and she and her dad have a plan: they want to spend a year living in the U.S. She wants to go to school here.

“She’s been to the states about nine, ten times since she was born. She loves malls and corn dogs and movie theaters and all that stuff.”

And Geer figured, well, New Hampshire would be a good spot for them to spend the time. So, he’s looking for land or a small camp near the mountains, in Franconia or Littleton or Lancaster.

Caitlyn can do malls and corn dogs, and he can do the things here that Fiji doesn’t offer.

“I love New Hampshire. Ski areas all around, the lakes, I ice boat. I love motorcycling riding on the back country roads. That kind of stuff.”

It may not have turquoise waters and fresh coconut milk, but for Geer, there’s plenty to like. And that’s how he came to post his Fiji land on the N.H. Craigslist page. He says it’s worth about $190,000, and that an even trade or a house plus some cash would be ideal. There haven’t been any serious bites yet, but if nothing comes through, he’s content holding onto his oceanfront spot.

“I still enjoy Fiji, I love it here.”

Tod Geer seems like the type of person who could be happy anywhere. The South Pacific, the North Country, or a little of both, if a good deal comes his way.  

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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