How To Buy A Private Island For Sale

Buying A Private Island: How To Make Your Dream A Reality

Samantha Bryant6 minute read
September 02, 2021

The thought of buying a private island is typically what dreams are made of; however, it may be more attainable than you think. While you might be hearing the voice from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” when thinking of an island all to yourself, it’s not as extravagant as one might believe.

Buying a private island is possible and as with any real estate purchase, it’s important to know the right steps to make your dream come to fruition.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Private Island?

Sure, it’s possible to buy a private island, but how attainable is it? How much does it cost?

As with every real estate purchase, there’s a wide variety of prices, and it all comes down to what you’re comfortable spending. If you have millions of dollars to spend, it opens more doors. If you’re trying to be budget-conscious, you’ll need to be budget-savvy and open-minded in your journey to buying an island.

As they say, location is everything when it comes down to cost. Do you see yourself staying within the United States or would you like to galivant on your own island abroad? You will also need to take into consideration if the island has already developed land or if you are looking for a clean slate with no existing development.

The going price of a developed island in Panama is $403,000 U.S. If you want a developed property with 110 acres in Thailand, it will set you back $160,000,000 U.S. An undeveloped island in Nova Scotia is $79,000 U.S., while an undeveloped island in the Bahamas goes for $62,000,000 U.S.

As you can see, they all vary in location and the amount of property available.

How To Buy A Private Island

In order to buy a private island, you need to consider all aspects of the buying process. As glamorous as it may seem, you need to figure out several logistics to make sure this is the right move. 

1.   Know Your Budget

First things first – set a budget. Once you have your budget in place, you’ll have a better idea of what you can look at and how much bang you can get for your buck.

Of course, some islands will be very expensive, while others will fit your budget. It’s important to factor in additional expenses beyond the island itself. You must calculate the cost of building a house on the land should you need to do so, getting power and water arranged, cost of transporting supplies, and buying a boat to get to and from the island.

2.   Decide Where To Buy A Private Island

Do you picture yourself in a hammock among the palm trees? Or perhaps a hoodie by the firepit with a cool breeze?

The location of your future island is important to nail down. You will need to determine if your plan is to stay domestic or expand your search abroad. Several factors will come into play and it’s important to do your research. Every location will have its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to purchasing property and you must keep that in mind. The same could be said about budget, as some locations may be more desirable and expensive than others.

Additionally, you need to consider the weather. When is the rainy season? Is it on the path of tropical storms and hurricanes? How accessible is it to land where you can get supplies from an area grocery store or home store? These are all questions you need to consider when moving forward with your island-buying plan.

3.   Designate The Purpose Of Your Island

In order to find the island that’s the right fit for you, you must start by determining the purpose of your island. It comes down to the question of business or pleasure. You might be searching for a secondary home for yourself and your family, or this might be more of a permanent situation whether that be a retirement dream or the perfect remote working location.

You may also wish to monetize your island life by renting it out on Airbnb or starting a vacation retreat to share with others. If this is the case, you will need to understand the area’s development laws. You will also need to think of logistics and how easily accessible your island will be for potential visitors.

4.   Contact An Experienced Real Estate Agent

To move forward, you will need to get the lay of the land (or shall I say island?). The best way to do that is to find an expert source.

It’s very important to work with a trusted real estate agent who is experienced in private island sales. They will know the ins and outs of the island-buying process. They know the local laws, they know the various locations, they will know whether you are getting the best deal or you’re overpaying. Basically, they are your guide for all things island buying. Find an agent who is experienced specifically in island sales, as they will have this helpful insight to offer.

How To Build A House On An Island

To build a house on an island there’s a lot you will need to consider. Make sure to have a checklist handy as you begin the island hunt and house building process. You will want to make sure you have a firm understanding of all of this prior to making the purchase.

1.   Learn The Local Development Laws

The first thing you need before making a purchase is a solid understanding of the local development laws. All states, territories and countries vary greatly when it comes to laws about building and construction. You will need to understand what permits are required and what the rules are before you get started. A trusted real estate professional or local contractor can help explain the local ordinances.

2.   Contact An Experienced Island Developer

Similar to finding a real estate professional, you will want to ensure that you hire a trusted and experienced island developer. It’s important to make sure that while you’re looking for a contractor, you end up with someone who has worked in an island setting before. They will know every aspect of building a home on an island, from the weather and local laws to general resources and the tides.

3.   Think About The Materials You’ll Need To Ship In

When you think of the materials you’ll need to ship in for your build, this is where budget comes into play. Materials for a new build will add up.

The location of your island will also be a factor when it comes to materials. If you are remote and the materials have to be shipped in from somewhere far away, it will likely be more expensive. In addition to getting the materials to your island, you will also need to consider how much it will cost to bring professionals in for plumbing, electricity, carpentry, etc.

4.   Protect Your Island Home Against The Local Weather

When you plan to live on an island, weather comes with the territory. You will be exposed to the elements and will want to prepare your home to reflect that based on your location. In order to protect your island and home, you will want to research your general area. Also, speak with the expert sources you’re relying on, including real estate professionals and contractors. You must be prepared for any weather event, whether that be a hurricane, tropical storm, flood or high tide.

The Bottom Line: Buying A Private Island Can Be Worth The Challenge

Now you know that buying a private island can be a reality, and a successful reality as long as you have the budget and take the right steps and do the proper research. Put your savvy knowledge to use and you’ll find you can face any challenge in your quest for the private island of your dreams.

Rocket Homes® agents don’t specialize in island sales, but they can help you find a tropical retreat of your own in a place like Hawaii! Make that first step and contact an experienced real estate professional today to make your dreams of a tropical paradise a reality.

Need a real estate agent?

Match with a local expert.

Get Started

Samantha Bryant

Samantha Bryant is a freelance writer covering all topics related to lifestyle and homes. Samantha attended the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In her spare time, she loves to travel and globetrot the world with her family.