An Island in the Sun: The Dream of Buying Paradise

Posted on Jul 16 2014 - 10:42am by Suzanne De Vita

island_sunsetWe’ve all been there: trapped at your desk on the gloomiest of days. In diva-esque fashion, the sun refuses to come out of its dressing room.  Is it just me, or are the colors in most offices downright dismal, not to mention fluorescent lighting that makes most of us look like green-tinged creatures from beyond. But I digress.

If you’re like me on those days, you’re probably imagining being somewhere else. A place where noises like paper shuffling and tap-tapping of keyboards are replaced with exotic bird songs and gently lapping waves. A place so remote, your cell barely registers service. Goodbye, work-related emails! Butterscotch-strawberry swirl sunsets, palm trees swaying amid cool ocean breezes…I’ll take one private island to go, please.

I may not be ready to fork over serious cash for my own piece of paradise, but I’ll keep the daydream alive by considering the logistics of purchasing an island. And who knows? There may be someone out there who’s squirreled away enough change to actually do it. But fair warning: snatching up a spit of land in the great blue deep is no easy task. Before taking the plunge, think carefully about these factors.

Inventory & Cost
Per the Private Island Buyer’s Guide, fewer than 1,000 islands are listed on the market each year - but limited availability isn’t the only hurdle. How do you know that island you’re coveting is actually worth its hefty price tag? The reality is, you can’t know for sure. Islands are difficult to appraise due to the relatively low amount of comparables. Time spent on the market isn’t a benchmark, either, because buyers are few and far between. Cue investor woes.

Nobody wants to arrive at their destination devoid of happiness because they got held up at the baggage claim. Pick an island in a location that suits your allotted travel time. A long flight won’t be an inconvenience if you plan to visit for an extended period of time, but if you’re looking for a weekend getaway, you’ll want something nearby with a shorter commute. Another fun fact: many islands lack the infrastructure to support proper medical care. You’ll have to figure out where the nearest hospitals or clinics are, and establish an open line of communication so you can reach out in case of an emergency.

There are two ways you can hold a title to an island: freely or with a lease. Freehold titles imply just that: that slice of heaven is all yours. Opting for a leasehold means you’ll own the island for x amount of time - usually between 30-99 years! Leases are generally less expensive and an ideal choice for foreign buyers, as there isn’t a ton of red tape to work around.

Environment & Culture
Your final homework assignment: researching the island’s climate and customary ways of living. Will you embrace local tradition? Are you going to be happy with seasonal changes (read: storms that rival biblical disasters) or maneuvering through rugged terrain? Brush up on the basics before you commit.

For me, I think I’ll keep dreaming…

Suz_ThumbSuzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. She’s in the process of completing her latest summer project, a deck addition complete with a thatched roof and tiki torches.

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