Thursday, April 23, 2009

Buying a piece of the Caribbean

The Caribbean, the playground of the rich and famous, has been getting more affordable. The depreciation of the US dollar against major currencies such as the British pound and the euro, has made Caribbean properties more attractive from a European point of view.

More affordable… but still not cheap! Property prices in more popular and developed islands can easily reach over one million US dollars for a house and lot near the beach.

In its latest survey of Caribbean property prices, the Global Property Guide finds that in Bermuda, the average price of a three bedroom house and lot is around US$1.5 million.
In Grand Bahama, Bahamas, a similar property costs around US$1.4 million, according to Global Property Guide figures.

Property prices in highly-developed areas such as Bermuda and Bahamas exceed US$7,000 per sq. m.

Coastal properties in Barbados are also expensive, at around US$6,700 per sq. m. In the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the US Virgin Islands (USVI), real estate prices are around US$5,000 per sq. m. Saint Maarten also has expensive properties at around US$5,300 per sq. m.

Property prices in St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Martinique, St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda range from US$3,170 per sq. m. to US$4,500 per sq. m.

The cheapest Caribbean properties are found in Belize, Jamaica, Aruba and Dominican Republic, with prices ranging from US$1,300 per sq. m to US$1,500 per sq. m for houses near the beach.

For apartment buyers, Bermuda and Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are among the most expensive with prices at around US$5,000 to US$8,000 per sq. m. A two bedroom apartment costs around US$841,000 in Bermuda and US$670,000 in TCI.

Despite these high prices, Caribbean properties are now considerably cheaper than coastal properties in Mediterranean Europe.

Risks and Restrictions

Property buyers, however, should take note that some islands impose restrictions on foreigners or “non-belongers” intending to purchase properties. These restrictions are quite strict in Bermuda, BVI and Tobago. Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia require a permit or license, and this adds costs.

Thanks to a system based on British Common Law, Belizean law places almost no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate. As a result, buying property in Belize is far easier than it is in many other Caribbean countries.

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