They're not as expensive as you think, plus more surprising truths about the ultimate coastal fantasy.
By Madeleine Frank
1 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.
They’re not all as pricey as you may think.
Sure, a large and sandy tropical island will seriously set you back (the undeveloped Caribbean isle pictured here is listed at $5.5 million), but some small, rocky islands—like the 1-acre Wohoa Bay in Maine, 30 miles east of Acadia National Park—can go for as little as $40,000.
Pictured: White Island, Grenada
2 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.
But be prepared to pay up front.
Banks generally won’t grant loans for the purchase of private islands, because without comparable properties on the market nearby, it’s almost impossible to establish a clear-cut monetary value, explains Chris Krolow, CEO of Private Islands Inc., the largest marketplace for international private island listings and sales.
Pictured: Nukudrau Island, Fiji
3 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.
Existing dwellings rarely affect the price.
A house that might go for $1.5 million elsewhere does not add the same amount to an island’s listing price. If anything, particularly quirky houses can sometimes pull down the final purchase price, says Krolow, because new owners might have different needs for the property.
Pictured: Clapboard Island, Maine
4 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.
The hottest spot to buy an island right now is …
the Bahamas or Belize. Both countries are relatively easy to get to from the United States and have the tropical feel that many potential island owners are after. There’s a lot of interest in purchasing Greek islands, but logistical difficulties and bureaucracy usually slow down the process and make people look elsewhere. The Belize island pictured here is currently for sale.
Pictured: Little St. George's Caye, Belize
5 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.
Island owners still have to answer to nature.
Owning an island means being responsible for the area’s ecosystem. Anything an owner does—say, getting rid of snakes—could have unintended consequences, such as creating a rodent problem. Krolow advises looking to local regulations on the nearest mainland for guidance.
Pictured: Koome Island, Uganda
6 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition
Tech advances have made island life more accessible than ever.
Krolow notes that new yachting technology is opening up possibilities for private islands. For example, small water desalination units made for yachts are easy to transport and capable of cleaning enough water for single-occupancy residential islands.
Pictured: Necker Island
7 of 7Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition
The trick to easy maintenance year-round is ... renting out your island.
Even some of the wealthiest owners rent their islands to guests, employing full-time staffs. Doing so ensures that the island is ever-ready for visitors, and that owners won’t be greeted by surprises when it’s their own off-the-grid time. Multibillionaire Richard Branson rents out his property Necker Island, pictured above, starting at $78,000 per night.