Special Features how to buy an Island


No man is an island, but every man dreams of buying one. For an increasingly large group of celebrities, this dream is fast becoming reality. Private islands are the latest addition to the celebrity mantelpiece with high-profile owners including Richard Branson, Diana Ross and Marlon Brando.

According to German entrepreneur Farhad Vladi, owning your own piece of paradise is no longer the prerogative of the super rich. “You don’t have to be shipwrecked like Robinson Crusoe or even a millionaire. If you can afford a car, you can afford an island.” He says. The cheapest and smallest plot Vladi has ever sold was an island measuring 500 square metres in Lake Charlotte, Nova Scotia, Canada, which sold for a mere £800.

Of the 120 or so private freehold islands currently on offer the cheapest retails at £60,000. Perhaps more accurately, if you can afford a very nice car, you can afford an island. The most valuable addition to Vladi’s stock costs around £2,000,000 and the most expensive island Vladi has ever sold was the £7,000,000 Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands; if you can afford several hundred cars, you can probably afford one of these islands.

And yet according to Vladi, island-buyers come in all shapes and sizes: “A few years ago I went through all my old notes and records trying to construct a demographical and psychological profile of island buyers”, Vladi says. “They seemed to have nothing in common — they were from all age groups and backgrounds except for just one thing: All were very strong individualists, determined to put their own personal stamp on an island.” He explains

When it comes to discovering a deserted island, it’s not simply a matter of finders-keepers. Before putting a plot of land on the market, Vladi and company have to first check who owns it. “Most islands are owned by the state and these countries normally do not sell their islands – only islands which are already in private ownership are offered through Vladi Private Islands.”

With only a finite number of these islands left in the world, prices are currently rising: “Islands are not made any more” says Vladi. “The supply is constant. Demand is rising due to technology which makes islands very developable. Prices are increasing constantly – by 10 to 20 per cent per annum.”

The allure of buying an island is clear; it enables people to own their own piece of tropically-tinged solitude. “People generally look for tranquillity, privacy and a place away from the everyday routine.”  Vladi explains. He has found two of his own island-sanctuaries with which to escape the crowds, in Nova Scotia and New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the very thing that makes owning an island so attractive– the seclusion and unspoiled quality of it all – is also the thing that can deter people from committing to a sale. Like any property, owning an island means thinking about development and upkeep; unlike any property, you really are starting from scratch –  these virgin plots rarely have so much as a running tap. Before you even step foot on the warm sands of your purchase, you will have to hire your own boat, navigate a suitable place to stop and build you own mooring.

New technologies are making this process easier. Vladi’s Private islands offer development plans and management services and will even provide an island manager to live on or close to your island. “Nowadays, within the time period of three months, a pre-fabricated home, electricity, phone and water (drill or desalination) can all be made available on an island without any great problems.” He says.

Island can also be a clever investment. Though most island owners may only live there for a few months a year, there are ample opportunities to rent them out for the remaining time. Whatever your intention, it’s important to research climate, location, accessibility and paper-work needed before hand, and preferably visit the island before buying.

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