King Of All You Survey

Is a private island the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life?

The world is crowded. No matter where one turns you are surrounded by people, and with the global population nudging towards 7.5 billion, and increasing year-on-year, things are unlikely to change anytime soon. It is no small wonder then, that we might want a property to give us a sense of isolation from society. Whether a refurbished farmhouse, a renovated castle or a lodge in the woods, we are all seeking that place where nobody knows our name and we can escape the crowds.

However, in modern times these havens of isolation are slowly dwindling as the land upon which they sit becomes ripe for development. Woods get chopped down, remote farmhouses gain neighbours and, as ever throughout history, castles become focal points for new settlements.

Where is left for those of us who yearn for peace-and-quiet? Well, there is one last bastion of seclusion for those of us who can afford it – the private island.


There is a psychological veil that surrounds private islands. Perhaps it is why they are so often cast as the location for the villain’s secret base in Bond movies (or perhaps that is a chicken and egg situation), whichever way round you believe it to be, the reality is far less fantastical, in that private islands are more likely to be owned by people just like you and I. The real question comes in knowing how to go about purchasing one.

Chris Krolow is founder of Private Islands Inc., and specialises in finding high net worth (HNW) clients their dream private island. What began as a small business 20 years ago, selling a handful of small north-Canadian islands, has become the largest marketplace for private islands in the world, brokering deals across the globe. They even produce their own high-end magazine and have their own television show, Island Hunters, which airs on the Lifestyle Channel.

“There is a psychological veil that surrounds private islands”

Clearly then, there is a market for this, but what is it about island ownership that so appeals?

“As mainlands across the world become increasingly saturated and there is less space for people, islands grow in popularity,” says Mr Krolow. “They are always going to be more private, and it’s not like they are making any more of them!

As the world becomes more populated and the prices for waterfront properties continue to rise, islands will continue to get more desirable.”

One of the problems any potential island owner is going to face are the logistics of establishing yourself on one. There are a few key things to keep in mind before you begin the process of buying an island, as Mr Krolow explains: “The first thing to do is find the region you want to buy in and narrow it down to one or two different countries – otherwise you will go in circles.

“Also, bear in mind that half the islands, or more, for sale will be leasehold islands. Asian islands are leasehold, most of the South Pacific islands are leasehold. Many people wanting to buy an island are looking for a long-term investment and something they can pass on to their kids, so a leasehold may not be a very attractive option to them,” he explains.

Other factors that must be considered include travel time to the island – and how often you will be able to get out there – so if you are looking to purchase an island in Central America you need to consider if it is worth the investment.

You must also research the local area and see how welcoming locals are to any potential newcomers, if they have a bad reputation you leave yourself open to struggling to find a caretaker to look after your island, and thus risk potential theft and damage to the property.

Many island owners plan to renovate their island and turn it into a luxury resort to produce income while they are not using it, but this comes with its own set of problems.

“Is it going to be a boutique resort as well as somewhere that you will stay yourself? Then you will need to consider the staff and where they are going to be accommodated. Then there is the water conundrum, if you are on a freshwater lake then you will be fine, but if you are on an ocean then you will need a desalination system, which will use a lot of power,” explains Mr Krolow. “Usually off-grid solutions like solar do not generate enough power for a desalination system, so you will need to use a fossil fuel system, and depending on the country you are in, that fuel could be rather costly.”

In line with any other major investment, it is imperative you do sufficient research to ensure you are not frittering money away on a lifestyle that is not suited to you.

“If you are buying an island for personal use or as a vacation getaway, then we suggest renting one in the area you are interested in, or better yet, rent the island you are interested in buying, just to make sure it is something that you want to do,” says Mr Krolow. “A lot of islands get purchased and then go straight back on the market because the owners realise it was much more work than they had bargained for!”

Posted in Luxury

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