man on a floater on a pool near the beach

Buying Island Real Estate

Is island life for you? Or is having an island getaway for you? Both questions would entail completely different lists of pros and cons. For investment purposes, island homes tend to hold their value, as land is obviously at a premium on an island! 


The population of the USA has access to many islands, in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands and in the Pacific. If you are planning to buy a second home on an island, you will not need to do the same soul-searching that would be required for a permanent move.


Many families have bought an island cabin as a group purchase, and the weekends and vacations are allotted on a casual ‘time share’ basis within the family. It is shared in turn for weekend getaways where the children can roam free on weekends and vacations and every now and again they will all plan to show up together! It is a great idea for promoting family unity. It also keeps costs down, as boats, fishing rods, repairs etc can be shared.


However, that is a little different to suddenly deciding to sell everything up and move to an island. To some, that would sound idyllic and to others it may bring on claustrophobia!!


The advantages and pitfalls must differ according to each island’s amenities, climate, environment and many other factors, but are there any general island ‘rules’?


Most island residents who choose permanency would probably opt for an island with a ferry service. There are times when the sea is too rough for a little row boat, or motor boat, and they do not want to feel isolated. Of course, for many people this isolation is exactly what they DO want!


Sometimes a ferry schedule can mean that when you arrive home late (from a vacation flight) or from the theater you cannot make it home on the ferry. Many islands have a water taxi service that you can pre-book, or some residents will just use their own boat, and others will decide ahead to spend a night in the town’s hotel.


One other problem with living on an island is that often you may have to worry where to park your car. Is the island big enough to have a car ferry, or do you need to leave your car each time you go over on a tiny ferry? In the latter case, you will need to negotiate parking near the ferry – although this is often provided for. 


Such other inconveniences, like arriving home with no sugar, is really just an accepted part of island life, and easily adjusted to. That’s what neighbors are for, and community glue is strong on islands!


No matter what the inconveniences are, to islanders, the peace and the feeling of being ‘away from it all’ is paramount. If you work off island, it only takes a few short weeks for that feeling of peace to pervade your entire being. It happens the minute you step onto that ferry boat each evening to cross the ocean to your island home.


Perhaps this poem by J. Earnhart and reproduced in the magazine “Island Life”, sums it up best


:If ever you’ve lived on an island

if ever you’ve lived by the sea;

You’ll never return to the mainland

once your spirit has been set free. 


If ever you’ve smelled the ocean

or tasted the salt in the air;

You’ll know you’ve discovered a haven

that is uncommon, precious and rare.


If ever you’ve seen the whales play

or watched the eagles in flight;

You’ll remember, again, why you live here

and why it feels so right.


If ever you’ve seen the sunset

as the ferry passed the shore;

You’ve seen the beauty of the island

that will be with you forever more.


If ever you’ve heard the seagulls

the waves, a foghorn, the winds;

Then you’ve heard the song of the island

and the peaceful message it sends.


Indeed, if you live on an island

if you’re lucky to live by the sea;

You’ll never return to the mainland

as your spirit has been set free.

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