To buy an island off the coast of Greece, Italy, in the Caribbean or the Bahamas? This question is the epitome of #firstworldproblems. But, for more and more (exorbitantly rich) people, it's becoming an actual discussion topic. The growing trend of buying your own private island is continuing to expand, with investors snatching up small plots all over the world.
A long list of high profile clientele have vacationed on private islands since the 1950's; it was a place for old-money families, movie stars, royalty - even the occasional drug lord - to spend their summers away from the mainland.
But, with the recent housing slump, more and more buyers are taking interest in owning their own island at a relatively bargain price. The hottest spot right now: The Bahamas.
The island chain about 300 miles south of Florida is already known as a vacation hotspot, but stars like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry and David Copperfield are looking away from the major tourist hubs to a string of almost completely uninhabited islands- no buildings, no cars, no people- which is exactly what they want. The Exuma Cays (pronounced Keys) Islands are a 365-island cluster in the
Bahamas. Of the 365 islands, 90% are either uninhabitable or protected as part of a 176-square-mile marine park, which means there little chance of having any neighbors.
Islands can range from as small as ten acres to as large as 700 acres, with the cheapest starting around $3 million. And, in the island buying business, there is no such thing as "valid one per customer."
Magician David Copperfield's 700-acre resort Musha Cay, is spread across 11 islands. After purchasing the islands for $50 million, he spent another $30 million renovating and expanding the once-deserted stretch of sand. Now, the property boasts five guest houses with private beaches, an outdoor movie theater and an on-site staff of 30 that includes a masseuse and sommelier. If you're interested, visitors can rent the entire property, which sleeps up to 24, for rates starting at $37,500 a night, meals and beverages included!
But how exactly do you build a small compound in the middle of nowhere? It's not easy. Deciding to play house in the middle of the ocean takes on average two years to complete and requires a lot of planning, transportation and most importantly, money.
Because empty islands usually aren't down the road from the nearest Home Depot, building materials, electric generators, home furnishings, food, water, and everything else you can think of must be transported by barge from Florida. If you want your house to have electricity, a diesel generator, whose power bills can total $1 million a year, must be shipped as well.
Not to mention building temporary houses for the construction workers and contractors working on your house, as well as food and provisions for them. The total cost of a building project or renovation can come close to the total amount paid for the island in the first place.
Some island owners have started to switch to more renewable forms of power. Many new buyers are building less mammoth houses, like former race-car driver Eddie Irvine, who says that his island will get energy from solar panels and solar-powered batteries. Transportation will be by kayak or bicycle and he is also working on a water-making facility capable of making up to 21,000 gallons of water a day. His island already has 10 wind-turbine generators- making his the first island to be powered by renewable energy.
These recent efforts could come at the urging of native residents to the Bahamas, not all of which are especially thankful for the boom in their economy. They see these construction projects as destroying the natural habitat of the islands, many of which contain rare or endangered species of wildlife.
If you can't afford to own your own island - and don't have any friends who can either - you can rent an island for a first class getaway without all the headache of constant maintenance and upkeep. Who knows, you might just see Branjelina on the island next door!