Private island buyer’s guide to the Philippines

Imagine making one of these 7,100 islands your own dream retreat.

Ever fancied buying your own private island? For the price of a shoebox in Sydney, you could buy one in the Philippines (as long as your boss is okay with you working from home).

It’s estimated that about a thousand private islands around the world hit the market each year, with the smallest selling for only a few hundred grand, all the way up to established luxury island compounds worth tens of millions of dollars.

Consider your budget

The Philippines has over 7,100 islands, so there’s plenty for the discerning island-buyer to choose from.

For just over a million US dollars, you could be the proud new owner of Cambaya Island and its pristine white sand beaches and coconut trees, a perfect base for lovers of water sports.

For those on more of a budget, Nici Island could be just what you’re looking for. Reasonably priced at just US$400 000, it comes complete with a house and boat pier already constructed. If you’re a diver, you’ll love the WWII wrecks and coral reefs that are all within an easy boat ride of your new abode.

Got a spare US$3.4 million burning a hole in your pocket? You might like Dumunpalit Island, with its striking volcanic rock features and protected bay, perfect for anchoring your boat(s) in. It’s got plenty of space for you to build your dream island bungalow, with a fresh water source and acres of mature fruit trees to enjoy. With great resort potential, this pristine corner of the Philippines won’t last long.

“A private island is all very well and good, but you don’t want to be marooned. Building houses on private islands is an expensive business.”

Consider your costs

A private island is all very well and good, but you don’t want to be marooned. Building houses on private islands is an expensive business. Look for a pre-existing house or structure, otherwise you’ll be shelling out for specialist island construction and development companies. Expect to pay roughly four times what anything done on the mainland would cost you.

Don’t forget that you’ll definitely need more basic things like fresh water, electricity, and a functional sewerage system and water treatment plant. You don’t want to shell out that much money and then start polluting the crystal clear waters around your new tropical home, do you?

By the way, how were you planning on getting to your new holiday retreat? If your island’s close to an established town or city, it could be as easy as taking a tinny, but if you’ve got a 200 foot super yacht to park, you’ll need to consider whether to dredge a channel to sail through, and whether you can safely park it somewhere during a storm.

One last thing: your new purchase may not be completely yours to do with as you please. Most islands in the Philippines are freehold leases, with a variety of conditions and legal hurdles to navigate. If you’re not a Filipino citizen, you’ll need an experienced local lawyer to help you jump through the hoops of foreign ownership.

Consider something easier

Sounding like more of a headache and less of a holiday? Feeling a bit like it might all be too expensive for a normal person? The easiest and cheapest option, of course, is to find an island you like and take a holiday – you can even just rent someone else’s for a week and sail away from all the hassle at the end. The Philippines is full of island resorts for all tastes and budgets, and best of all, they won’t cost you nearly as much as owning one.

You mightn’t be able to afford a whole island for your next getaway, but you can definitely afford travel insurance. Get a competitive quote from Medibank today.

Recommended reading - Issue Twelve Winter 2015

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