How to Buy a Private Island

For about the price of a new car

By The Editors
September 30, 2015 9:00 am

Got $90 million? We have an island for you.

Got $50,000?

We also have an island for you.

Surprise: private islands are no longer the express domain of Bond villains and the one percent of the one percent.

“Our clients are not necessarily the richest people on earth,” says Sabine Rollinger of Vladi Private Islands, a leader in the industry since 1971. “Most of our clients are in the higher middle class.”

The company claims you can pretty much get started with a budget of about $100,000 (sans housing) and “work your way up.”

As Vladi likes to say, “If you can afford to buy a car, you can afford to buy an island.” Which is true. But there are other things to consider.

Economic crisis doesn’t necessarily mean you get a good deal

“Greece is definitely not the place right now to buy an island,” says Rollinger. “It’s much too expensive — you have think about how to get drinking water and it will take a long, long time to get the permission to buy the island. Or not.”

You get what you pay for…

At $90 million, Vladi’s most expensive island is the beach haven of Cave Cay, a private, deep-water harbor and marina near the Bahamas. The island is available “as is,” replete with 35 dock slips, a private airstrip and a mansion. It’s also self sufficient (diesel generators and solar provide the power) with building and construction equipment already on the island to…well, do whatever the hell you want.

There are bargains. And they’re nice!

For $50,000 — or approximately the yearly rent on a Manhattan one-bedroom — you could be ensconced in the rarefied wilderness of Whispering Trees Island. Located in Nova Scotia, the 3.5-acre forested retreat is great for fishing and hiking, with construction of a home on the island “negotiable.”

You’ll want to make a checklist before you buy

You’ll want an island not too far from mainland access (Vladi won’t list any properties more than a kilometer from shore). Is the island set up for basic services, like power? Can you acquire a permit to build a home there? Vladi uses a 12-point checklist to determine if an island is habitable, including all-year access, proximity to medical services, the fauna and flora native to the land and the political climate of the host country.

Consider a private island holiday instead

Vladi, for example, has hundreds of islands available for weekend getaways. Personally, we’re big fans of No Man’s Fort, a former military sea fort in the south of England now converted into the world’s most badass luxury pad. All for about the same price per night as a decent London hotel. (More on No Man’s here.)

Just buy this

For coolness factor, we’re gonna go with the lush Taiaro Atoll, a circular island near French Polynesia encircling a huge lagoon/saltwater lake. If you like fine white sand beaches, coral reefs and a bit of history. The first European there? Darwin.


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