How To Buy An Island

island_cover

With money flooding out of nouveou rich countries like China, Russia and Brazil, as well as wealthy Europeans and Americans, islands are beginning to look as stable and investment of your money as property one was. There are over 1,600 billionaires in the world today and almost all of them realise a private island is a secure and time worthy investment.

Whether you are considering buying and island in the Bahamas, Caribbean or near Australia, the process can be very complicated and rigid. Recently, Farhad Vladi, of respected island sellers Vladi Private Islands, said that ‘’the largest buyers of islands ”The largest buyers of islands in the last six years are governments, provinces, nature trusts, and nature conservancy groups,” Vladi says. “That is the island business today; the true one.” This is emphasised by the fact that recently Vladi sold Budelli Island off Sardinia to a New Zealand banker for 2.5 million euros. But the Italian government had the right of first refusal, so the banker lost his would-be private island to the state, which placed it in preserve as a part of La Maddalena National Park.

island2
BONEFISH CAY. BAHAMAS. Photograph: vladi.de

What to look out for when buying an Island

Set a price for yourself an stick to it: It’s stating the obvious to say that the bigger your budget, the better an island you can afford, but some people have very unrealistic expectations of what they can afford. It’s better to spend as much as possible to buy the island, even to the extent of waiting until you have funds for development. Saving money in the short term will generally get you a poorer quality island and once you have bought the island and developed, there is no changing your mind. It’s better to have a more attractive island than purchasing a poorer quality island just to save money.

Choose your location. The location of an island is one of the most crucial factors in most people’s decision to purchase. It’s very important that you strongly consider this when purchasing. You’re not just buying an island, you’re buying its surroundings. There should be a village nearby where one can get supplies and an airport close at hand, for instance. In other words, what makes an island feasible is the infrastructure that is available to it. Some islands are close to villages which is good because you can obtain staff and supplies, but on the other hand, it then lacks privacy. Again, islands that are remote offer complete privacy, yet at the expense of accessibility. An island that is in the middle of the ocean usually has no view, and islands that are located in bays have both shelter and nice views. Also, remote islands that are less sheltered are more prone to bad weather and rough seas.

island4
TIPAEMAUA. FRENCH POLYNESIA. Photography: Vladi.de

Make sure there’s a reliable water supply. You’ll find water is the most important element of living on an island, and the second largest factor affecting the choice of an island. In general, the smaller the island, the less water. This applies in reverse, except if the island is rocky (even large rocky islands have problems producing water). Every island has some variety of options to obtaining fresh water. Look for a ground water table high enough to dig a well. If a well already exists, have it inspected to ensure it’s dependable. This can be done by pumping the well dry and seeing how many minutes it takes to fill again. The amount of water that you’ll be able to get from a well determined by using this method will give you a figure called cubic meters or cubic feet of water. However, poor water supply isn’t as big a factor in the tropics, because a good rainwater cistern can supply enough water over the dry season saved up from the monsoon season and the occasional shower. The tank can be topped up from the well, thus stopping the well from running dry and damaging the water table of the island. Check the annual rainfalls. The estimated amount of water needed annually for part-time island living is 30,000 to 100,000 gallons (113,562.4 to 378,541.2 L), which for full-time living will require about forty inches of annual rainfall. Technology has also come to the rescue and state-of-the-day desalination plants suitable for a normal house are now as cheap as $20,000. It should be noted the fresh water creates what is called the “Lens Effect”. This means that a low sandy island just a few feet above sea level can have a water table which can be 3-4 times the height of the island because the fresh water forces the salt water out and creates a lens-shaped aquifer under the island. Another factor to consider is that if your island is close enough to a water source on the mainland or another larger island, you can run a PVC several kilometres as long as the water between is not too deep.

Check its accessibility. Accessibility is a prime factor in your choice of an island and directly depends on how much discomfort and travelling time you are willing to put up with. It also depends on how much experience you have with boats, and how comfortable you are with the ocean because the only way to get to an island is by boat. Travel time by boat is also affected by many factors such as what type of boat, its engine, and of course the seasonal weather conditions. You must take into account that no matter how sheltered an island may be, you must still put up with rough seas. If you are the kind of person who wants less travelling, you will find that the closer an island is to an established town, the more expensive it generally is.

island3
NORTH ISLAND. SEYCHELLES. Photography: Vladi.de

Note its anchorage. Anchorage is the island’s firmness and stability to the ground. Select an island with good anchorage, because without this, it may be almost impossible to land on the island. Or, even worse, you may be stuck on the island and not be able to get off. A good anchorage should be sheltered from the prevailing winds, have a sandy bottom for good holding, and have a deep water access to the beach, without rocks or coral. If you aren’t experienced with boats, ask the captain that takes you to the island if he considers the island to have a good anchorage. Nearly all islands have some form of anchorage, but the quality varies dramatically. A good island should have a good gently sloping sandy beach with good access through the coral, and shelter from the prevailing winds. However, a mooring buoy and a tender can solve this problem. The ideal island should have both shelter and good spot to land a boat. So it’s important to see the island at high and low tides.

Note its topography. Islands vary from the perfectly flat Caribbean style island to the rocky cliffs and mountainous types. If you have a preference, it’s important that you tell brokers you contact of the type of island you want. Most islands aren’t flat, and on what are called continental islands (the drowned tops of hills) there is only a small area of flat land. In general, the area of flat land on a continental island is approximately 10-12% of the island and this must be taken into consideration when planning your development.

Never ignore the land tenure: Determine your rights of ownership. In many countries ownership of an island only extends as far as the high tide mark, with the beaches below that belonging to the government. In general, this means that you own the island, but cannot develop below the high tide mark and the beaches may therefore not be yours. When buying islands in foreign countries, you should engage an attorney to do a full check of the island’s documentation. At the time of inspection, find out who is living in the island, and if they have a legal right to be there. Squatters can be a problem, and great care should be exercised that they are not present before the deal is concluded.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed