Tips for Purchasing Your
Own Private Island

By Liz W. on March 26 2014

What do Eddie Murphy, Larry Ellison and Celine Dion have in common? Besides being incredibly wealthy and famous, these three individuals also own private islands.  Clearly, to purchase your own piece of paradise, you have to have a lot of money.  However, there’s more to it than extensive net worth.  What else must you keep in mind before buying a private island?


Many people rent their island first in order to become familiar with the terrain and surroundings before committing to a purchase.  That’s a good option, but once a purchase decision is made, it’s vital to understand all ownership rights before moving forward.  Are there other inhabitants on the land?  Employ an attorney to ensure that the title is clean and no one else has a legal right to it.  Is it a freehold property (can be owned outright) or a leasehold?  Also, how far does the physical property ownership extend?

Location and Size

When choosing a home, location is always one of the top considerations. Buying an island is no different.  It’ll be critical to determine where you want your island to be, what you’ll use it for and how close it needs to be to the mainland or other islands.  Knowing how you will get to/from the island home is also essential.

Is the island for you and your immediate family, or will you require space for guests?  Is it purely a residential endeavor or will there need to be room for commercial activities?  The answers to these questions may help determine how big your island should be.  Building a resort requires ample space for guest rooms and amenities like swimming pools and restaurants.  Plan on upwards of 25 acres if you’re aiming for a large-scale construction project.  


Fresh water access is imperative.  Water requirements will be less if the island is being purchased for residential, part-time use.  Also, if there are good annual rainfalls, a cistern can be used to capture and store rainfall.  If a well exists on the property, make sure it’s reliable prior to purchase.  Lastly, if you can’t find a fresh water, consider a desalination plant.  These systems turn salt water into drinkable water, and prices can be as low as $20,000 for a single home.

Electricity is also an important concern.  Ideally, you’ll have access to electricity via an underwater cable.  If your island does not have a power source, you can turn to generator, wind or solar sources.  Wind and solar energy are clean alternatives, and generators are fuel-powered.  There are pros and cons to each source.  Before implementing an energy strategy, be clear on need and cost.   

Lastly, communication is critical for emergencies and day-to-day living.  This is especially true if your island is remote.  Access to a cellular network will save time and money.


Building on an island is more expensive because materials and supplies need to be transported from other places.  Before buying island property, find out if there’s existing infrastructure that can be tapped and what permits are required.  Also, what type of topography will you be dealing with?  Very few islands are completely flat, and rocky terrain complicates construction.  Also, is the island habitable?  These variables will all feed into the final cost of development.  

The rich love to escape their daily demands and island living has its advantages.  Islands are private, beautiful and exciting.  But when thinking about purchasing your piece of heaven on Earth, there are also many serious considerations.  Are you ready for paradise?

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