Buying a private island is an alluring opportunity that not many people in the world commit to, and many think it's only something celebrities can do. The fact is that it's not such an easy process to simply scoop up an uninhabited island. There could also be the issue of an island that's private, but comes with residents, in which case there are even more laws to follow. There's no land in the world that doesn't follow the rules of another country's government (except North Sentinel Island, which is a unique exception).
Furthermore, having your own island simply means you own the land - not that you own a newly-created government. So is owning a small piece of paradise worth it? The answer is: It depends. If the occasional getaway or private island life living is something that a person is looking for, then it could an option be worthy of exploring. If the goal is to create a new country with unique rules and structures, then it's probably best to just find an island that you could rent for a while.
UPDATE: 2022/05/26 13:06 EST BY LIANNA TEDESCO
Can You Make Your Own Laws On A Private Island? And More Questions, Answered
Owning a private island is the dream of many, but how realistic is it, really? With private islands ranging in price from tens of thousands of dollars all the way into the millions, there's no saying how plausible it is for the average person. However, there are still some cool things that people should know about private islands, and we've updated this article to reflect that - and to bring a bit more realism - regarding how buying one might actually work.
Can You Make Up Your Own Laws On A Private Island?
The short answer to this is no. It's not possible to make up laws even if an island is private, simply because of the fact that it will already be governed by a country. Every piece of land in the world has been claimed and added to a country's jurisdiction, which means that choosing an island should also depend on the country the owner wouldn't mind being subject to. This means that the island in question would follow the same laws as set by the country which owns it, meaning no additional laws, rules, or guidelines can be set by the "owner" of the private island.
Do You Need To Pay Taxes On A Private Island?
Yes. Since a private island will likely be under the ownership of a sovereign country, chances are, taxes will need to be paid on it. However, this can be a bit of a gray area when it comes to certain countries and their tax or fee laws.
While the US has a strict and rigid tax system, potential island owners might find that other countries require different payments throughout or at the end of each year. It all depends on the location of the island and which country the island technically belongs to.
Can You Build Anything You Want There?
While it might seem like one whole island of opportunities, owning an island doesn't mean someone can randomly decide to build a resort or a multi-million dollar mall. Before any construction, an environmental survey must be done, and this alone costs a pretty penny - actually, more like $50,000.
Each country has its own laws about this as well, and sometimes building permits will also depend on the size of the land. If there's too little land on an island, a permit or environmental survey may not be carried out, therefore preventing island owners from building anything they want.
What Happens If Someone Is Already Living On The Island That's For Sale?
In the event that this happens and the owner wanted the entire island to themselves, the only proper response is, "oh well." There's absolutely nothing a person can do if they purchase an island that already has residents, as they have rights to the land they're living on as well. There's no way to evict them and the owner has no power over them. This is because when an island is already inhabited, the "private island" will be the part that has no residents - therefore, the island owner won't technically own the entire island, but rather the part or parts of the island that do not have permanent dwellings.
How Much Can You Expect To Spend On Your Own Private Island?
Private islands range in price drastically, from as low as less than $100k to as much as millions. Thus, the reason why not many people own them! As an example, Larry Ellison purchased Lanai, one of Hawaii's smallest islands, for roughly $300 million. Even so, a sliver of the island is still owned by the state - so this price wasn't even reflective of the total price for every piece of Lanai land.
Alternatively, according to Elite Traveler, a small plot of island land in Nova Scotia, Canada, could be purchased for as little as $60k. Obviously, this is more affordable than the average house and doesn't include construction costs, but is still far more in the ballpark of the average consumer than a Hawaiian island that's going for millions.
Some things that determine the price of a private island are:The location
- What's included, i.e. solar panels, existing buildings, businesses, etc.
- If the island is a tourist destination
- How easily reachable it is
- What country the island is part of
- The conversion currency rate when computing the purchase price
Not everyone is interested in - or will be able to - purchase their own private island. For some, it's a dream come true while for others, it's simply just a pipe dream. Regardless of the case, it is possible and it's something that's done far more often than many travelers realize.