So You Want to Buy an Island?
How many times have people written to me with questions and dreams about private islands?
Too many to count. The nature of the questions tells me that 98% of the folks asking are not in
the least prepared for the reality ··· read the following information, and if you are still
interested in an island ö letâs go shopping!
Buying an island may or may not be expensive ·· but developing one almost always is. The
more remote the island, the lower will be the purchase price and the higher will be the
development costs. There are a few charming private cayes that are quite close to the mainland ö
they will be found mostly off Dangriga and Placencia. Truly spectacular small islands can be
found along the reef itself ö on outer atolls or along the southern portion of the main Barrier Reef.
Each is different ö some are "coral" cayes and other are "mangrove". In general, coral cayes
have a bedrock base, and tend to have sandy beaches. Mangrove cayes are likely to have less
true "land". They may or may not have swimming "beach", but most will have sheltered lagoons
suitable for good boat moorages.
An island (at least here in Belize) is by definition set apart (no causeways link them and only Caye
Caulker and Ambergris Caye have airstrips). I f you own an island you absolutely must have a
boat. Better yet two boats. Depending on the distance to your nearest neighbor, it may be a
good idea to have redundant systems. If you are more than a mile or so offshore, two of
everything is almost essential ö one to use when the other is being repaired.
Building on an island becomes more expensive as you move farther from a town where people
and materials originate. If you assemble all your materials first, you can perhaps get everything to
the island at once and reduce transportation costs. In this case you must be sure a barge or larger
boat can actually get to the island, and when it gets there you will have to provide a place for it to
anchor and offload. Alternatively, small sailboats can deliver materials for a very reasonable
transportation fee, and can get to many spots that other types of boats do not service. Whatever
you do, be aware that when you run out of nails or your power saw breaks ö the whole job shuts
down for a couple of days. You cannot run down the street to Home Depot for spares.
Workers will be living on the property during construction. You need to provide them with
housing, food and transportation.
Some islands have good ground water and others do not. You have to dig a pit to see.
This is not a big deal ö with one strong back and a shovel you will reach ground water quite soon
(maybe 18 inches, maybe 6 feet). Without good ground water you will not have the essentials for
mixing concrete unless you make other arrangements for rain catchment or a de-sal plant. To tell
if ground water is too salty for concrete mixing, toss some on a salt-sensitive plant. If it dies or
leaves get burned, you probably have too much salt in the water for construction needs.
Communications from an island are generally going to involve radios. Some cayes are close
enough to the mainland and to existing towers to have cellular service, but on most you will need
to rely on radio or radio-phone.
Electricity, propane, etc···. you will make it or bring it. Solar power is very effective here
because we have lots and lots of sun ö just donât put panels under a coconut tree where a falling
nut can ruin your entire program. In the beginning phases you will likely use a generator for
building, power tools, etc. ö be sure itâs diesel.
Water for drinking and cooking ·· catch rain or install a del-sal plant. De-sal needs electricity,
and needs to be run every day to keep it functional. Rain is plentiful and tastes sweet ö you need
sufficient clean (not thatch) roof from which to catch runoff, and a place to store it.
OK ö do you still want an island? If so, be prepared to spend $200,000 ö 2,000,000 US for an
undeveloped island that has 5-15 acres of good sandy ground. (If you hear about a 150 acre
island for $300,000 you can bet itâs mostly under water).
You STILL want to buy and island? Then you are going to have the most spectacular setting on
earth. You will have your own world. You will have an asset that is scarce, irreplaceable and in
time will become priceless.
What is involved in locating and viewing a private island for sale? Search out private islands
much as you would any other property ö realtors, ads in the paper, asking around in the area. If
you are interested in visiting one that is being offered for sale, you will generally be asked to pay
for your transportation to the property for viewing. Always allow a flexible schedule for seeing
islands ö there are a host of variables that can affect your trip. When you go ··. take
sunblock, drinking water, a camera, and a bathing suit. Itâs an adventure!!!!!
(PS ··. Do I know of any for sale? Sometimes ·· e-mail me for details)
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