A Shutter Island of Your Own

Depressed real estate prices have made private islands an affordable alternative to mainland waterfront property. They'll still set you back six figures, however.

If you’re looking for a place to really get away from the hustle and bustle, it’s hard to beat an island of your own. And if you’re thinking that you need to be one of the very wealthy to afford to buy an island, you may want to think again. Yes, many islands do come with jumbo-size, seven-figure price tags, but you may be able find your own little bit of paradise for a lot less.

Islands generally cost less than a comparable piece of waterfront real estate on the mainland, but the gap is narrowing as demand ratchets up while the market for more conventional houses is still in the doldrums. Still, buying your own island is likely to set you back six figures.

To get a better idea of the market, visit Private Islands Online, where you can look over a worldwide selection of islands and sort them by region, price, or type. And if you’re not ready to buy, you can rent. The weekly rental cost for many islands is comparable to the rent on a house in a popular resort area in the US.

Island living is a lot easier than it used to be, but it still has some drawbacks. You have to supply the island with electricity and fresh water, which may be difficult and expensive. In addition, your island is accessible only by boat or air, so getting supplies, furniture, and appliances there could cost you a bundle.

If you’re planning to build or renovate, construction costs can run anywhere from 50% more to double what you’d pay on the mainland. Homeowners insurance and a mortgage may also prove iffy. Lastly, it helps if you’re both healthy and handy, since you’re a boat ride away from a plumber, an electrician, or medical care.