4 Tips On Buying A Private Island

By Rebecca Lake. May 7th 2016

Owning a private island has traditionally been an option for only the very wealthy but changes in the world economy have made the market more accessible for a broader pool of buyers. While some islands can run in the million-dollar range, others can be had for just a few hundred thousand dollars, similar to what you would pay for a home in someU.S.cities. Whether you’re considering purchasing an island for use as your own private oasis or you’re planning on developing an upscale vacation resort, the following tips can ensure that you’re prepared for any obstacles you may encounter.

Research Your Location

The most important factor to consider when buying a private island is the location. Your ideal location will ultimately depend on what you plan to do with the island. If you’re interested in developing the island for commercial use, a tropical location is more likely to attract visitors. If you’re seeking a getaway spot or planning to permanently relocate, the location you choose should reflect your personal preference. For example, if you’ve always lived in a cooler climate, the warmth of the Caribbean may be more appealing than an island off the coast of Canada.

Once you settle on a specific location, there are additional factors you need to consider. First, you need to know what type of weather you can expect, specifically whether the area is prone to hurricanes, typhoons, etc. You also need to evaluate the availability of resources, such as clean water, electricity and food. Size is also a factor as is time. If you’re planning to purchase an undeveloped island, the construction process can take years to complete, largely due to the red tape that is often associated with obtaining the proper permits.

Evaluate Your Budget

When researching private islands, it’s important that you have a clear idea of what you can realistically afford to spend. How much an island will cost depends on a number of factors, including its location, level of development and overall size. If you’re planning to purchase an island in an area that receives a lot of tourist traffic or one that is already equipped with residential or commercial structures, you can expect your costs to be higher upfront. If you’re planning on buying an undeveloped island or one that’s in a more remote location, the purchase price may be lower; however, any money you save will likely be offset by the costs of developing the island to suit your needs.

Generally, the more money you have to spend the better quality of island you can likely afford. When drawing up your budget, you should establish a fixed price point that represents the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Your budget should reflect not only the purchase price but the amount of money that may be required to get your island up and running. This may include costs for permits, construction costs, expenses for utilities and the costs associated with importing furnishings, building materials or other goods to the island.

Take A Test Drive

Before you commit to purchasing a private island, you may want to consider taking a test drive by renting an island for a set period of time. Private island rentals are available in locations around the world and may cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per week. If you plan to rent an island, you should choose one that most closely matches your preferences in terms of location, size, development and services. Some island rentals offer a more rustic living experience while others take a luxury approach, complete with full-service staff and upscale amenities. While some rentals can be pricy, trying out the island experience can help you to determine whether buying is right for you.

Pay Attention To The Details

Buying a private island is much more complicated than just buying a home. If you’re planning to purchase in a foreign market, you’ll be dealing with laws and regulations that are likely to differ significantly from those in the U.S. For example, you need to ensure that you’re legally able to purchase the island in question. Certain countries, including the Philippines, do not allow ownership of land by foreigners.

You also need to be clear on what your rights of ownership are prior to completing a purchase. Some countries may restrict your ownership of the island to the high tide mark, which means that any beach past this point belongs to the government, not to you. If there are already people living on the island, you need to know whether they have a legal right to be there and how to go about removing them if they don’t. These and other issues should be discussed with a qualified attorney before you commit to buying a private island.

If owning a private island is your fantasy, careful planning and budgeting can help make it a reality. Private island ownership is not for everyone and it’s important to consider the potential pitfalls before moving forward.


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