Try before you Buy a Private Island
We test drive cars and try on little black dresses before we buy them, so why shouldn’t we take a private island for a spin before investing. Ideally, you should spend at least a week on the island of your choice to get a feel for things. The short term expense can pay off big time in the future.
If you’re buying a private island because you want to spend time there, get to know the place before committing to the purchase. Even if you’re only buying for investment, you’ll want to visit the locale in person. Research, no matter how intensive, cannot substitute for seeing and feeling a place with your own two eyes. You may be familiar with the country you’re investing in, but you only know the country as an outsider. You need to get to know it as a local.
You’ll want to experience the weather, meet your neighbours (if any!) and determine how easy or difficult it is to access your island. If possible, visit during the least appealing season so you know what to expect in the worst case scenario. While you’re there, you might find the island is overrun with mosquitos or sandflies. If that’s the case, you can spray the island before you take up permanent residence. If the island isn’t developed, you’ll want to get an idea of what will be required to develop your private island. If the island is already developed, you might want to make some personal modifications. If the owner has any objections to your visit, this should serve as a warning sign.
If you aren’t able to spend time on your island before purchasing, make sure you visit the island before you sign the dotted line. You need to walk around the island to assess if it’s what you want. You can look at the all the photos in the world and read the brochure, but there is no substitute for visiting the island you hope to buy. Your agent might never have set foot on the island or spent any time there, so they might not be a reliable source. If your broker is familiar with the island, you will want him or her to accompany you on the visit to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
Buying a private island site unseen is unwise to say the least. You might show up to find a few mangroves sticking out of the ocean. When you buy a house, you have someone come over to do an inspection. The same rule applies to private islands. If you enter into contract for 6 months or a year, this will give you time to learn about development options, permits, and anything else that might arise.