For most people, the idea that one can actually buy a private island is as real as the tooth fairy. Buy a private island, you say? Are you crazy? Everybody knows that real estate of that sort is the sole province of the very rich and the very famous. Only those jetsetter types with their private planes and Swiss bank accounts could ever afford something so indulgent. After all, it's common knowledge that private islands are the bastions of luxury, affluence, and wealth.
That's the thing about common knowledge, though. It's so rarely verified, that it's often hard to distinguish hearsay from truth. Private islands aren't cheap, but neither are they as expensive as most people think, especially if you broaden your options. Remember, this amazing planet is covered with uninhabited parcels of land, most of which go through their existence unnoticed. With that kind of mindset, the desire to buy a private island isn't quite as ludicrous as it sounds.
Basically, the process involved in the quest to buy a private island is not that different from buying any other piece of land. It involves titles, deeds, a little bit of haggling on the purchase price, and a good amount of money. The exact amount of money, of course, depends on a few factors, the first being supply and demand. Predictably, there's a bigger desire to buy a private island with white-sand beaches and dancing palm trees than an iceberg in Northern Alaska, so sanctuaries in the tropics are always more expensive.
Then again, there are still a lot of relatively affordable private chunks of paradise in the more far-flung ares of the globe, some of which cost just as much as the average second home in the US. Southeast Asia, for instance, is riddled with fairly affordable islands for sale, each one more stunning than the one before.
The first step in the quest to buy a private island is research. This cannot be stressed enough - you must do your research well.
Begin by assessing your needs and set a realistic budget. Contact property agents and look at websites. Believe it or not, there are a number of websites that cater to people who want to buy a private island, and it really is just a matter of making an informed choice. Scroll through the choices to get a sense of what you can afford.
Once you find a desirable private island within your price range, take a look at the location. Is it so far-flung that you may not have the time or resources to travel there regularly? Is it so near a national border that you might have problems with the neighboring government in the future? Are there any contradicting territorial claims on the land as well as the surrounding waters?
After that, look at the accessibility. How accessible is the private island to the outside world and how accessible is the outside world to the private island? Is it too isolated? Is there a nearby airport? A hospital? Some kind of Coast Guard? What is your mode of transportation going to be like? Are the waters around your island safe for travel at all times? Remember that the sea in some parts of the world can be rather unpredictable. Calm waters on one day may become virtual whirlpools the next. Find a way to ask the locals what the waters are like throughout the year.
And finally, look at the degree of development. Aside from evaluating the quality of the structures, if any, that are on the island, also look at what modern necessities have already been installed. The biggest problem with private islands is that due to their size and lack of inhabitants, most governments have not seen the need to fit these islands with electricity, irrigation, or telephony. Because of this, you will most likely have to look into this yourself. Ask your property agent whether it has a generator or some form of communications device.
Once you have all these things addressed, there is only one more step to take: to take the plunge! To buy a private island is not for everyone, but given the right circumstances, it can the best investment you'll ever make.