I’m sure that most of us have heard rich and famous people such as Richard Branson, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Jonny Depp and Mel Gibson have been investing some time and money into purchasing little private islands all around the place, but only hearing about the rich doing so may make it appear as if it is out of your own capabilities. This list focuses on people who you haven’t heard of that have bought their own islands, some for just a few thousand dollars!
The ongoing theme throughout these people’s stories is ingenuity combined with daring, many of them risking it all or trading in their entire lives to be able to live on their own island somewhere in the ocean. Whether you are willing to do the same, or simply want to know more about people living in paradise then you’re in the right place.
15) The Barclay Brothers
There lies an island roughly 80 acres in size in the British Isles referred to as Sark, which has a private harbor, helipad and a stone manor house, all of which sounds pretty luxurious to most of us but maybe not enough to the Barclay Brothers when they purchased it in 1993.
Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay paid almost ₤3.5 million (almost $5 million USD) for the island but described it as a slight eyesore. Massive amounts of excavations began in order to create protection from the harsh wind, and then the manor was destroyed and replaced with a modern granite castle.
14) Brendan Grimshaw
In 1962, Brendan Grimshaw from Yorkshire, England, bought an island known as Moyenne, one of the Seychelle islands off of the western African coast for the lovely price of ₤8,000, living there still to this very day.
Healthy, tanned and living in a single story house on a hillside, Brendan has been slowly building a population of giant tortoises, which have been lost on most of the other islands in the area. Looking after 120 of these tortoises and also working to reintroduce many local birds, he has turned this once abandoned island into a 22.5 acre nature reserve.
13) Wayne Adams And Catherine King
So this story is a little bit different from the past two but is pure genius. Wayne (now 66) and Catherine (now 59) actually built what they call “Freedom Cove” in 1992, a series of rafts all linked together off the coast of Vancouver Island in Canada.
Taking roughly 20 years to build, Freedom Cove focuses on sustainable living, with 5 different greenhouses giving the couple half an acre for growing food. They collect both rain and waterfall water, and also have space to practice their arts (Wayne is a sculptor and Catherine a dancer and musician). They get buy selling their work, fishing and producing everything else they need themselves.
12) Cindy and David VanderZwaag
In the 70’s, this (rather broke at the time) couple fell in love with a 90 acre island in the Nova Scotia area in Canada but unfortunately didn’t have a penny to their names, being college students. We can actually look at their story as an example of pure determination.
Joining another couple in buying the place for a grand total of $5,800, the two spent around 2 years working their butts off in their spare time to come up with their $2,900 share. By 1976 they were the proud, debt-free owners of their own island, living there full time in any and all weather conditions, sometimes marooned for months at a time during freezing winters, but it’s still worth it for them.
Being largely self sufficient with fishing, foraging and having their own animals, they actually only need $5 a week to purchase other items they can’t produce in order to get by, nothing more.
11) Rory and Melita Hunter
Australian couple Melita and Rory were on a trip visiting Cambodia when they were given an offer that they simply couldn’t refuse!
They were originally planning on moving to New York, however a local Cambodian family, knowing Rory’s background as a property developer, offered the couple a small isolated island for the meager price of $15,000. The couple grabbed the opportunity with both hands, turned the island into an award winning private resort (that is absolutely amazing), with rooms starting at $869 a night!
That is one amazing lifestyle change we all dream of.
10) David and Linda Waller
David and Linda are both Americans who felt that they had to add something to their lives, and they found that in the form of a lighthouse situated on a small island in the mouth of Boston Harbor.
The couple won the auction with a bid of $933,888 (we all wish we had that kind of money don’t we?) and mortgaged their home in order to pay for the renovations of the lighthouse in the hopes that they can open it up to the public for overnight stays and slowly earn some of that money back.
9) Ian Usher
Briton Ian Usher found himself in a mid life crisis a few years ago after his wife left him. In an extreme case of needing a change of life, he auctioned off everything that was his; house, car, motorbike, jet skies, he even set up interviews for people to take his job and introductions for them to meet his friends.
He made around ₤192,000, and with that money traveled the world ticking off items from his bucket list. Before his money ran out, he bought a small island near Panama for around ₤30,000 where he is now building a home and a new life with his new love whom he met on his travels. The slow island life has certainly remedied that midlife crisis.
8) Tokyo Sexwale
Okay, so the name is a little bit peculiar, but Tokyo Sexwale is a mining magnate who has cash to burn which always makes for some good stories. Sexwale purchased a tiny island off the coast of Mozambique named Quilalea, whose perimeter you can apparently walk around in an hour or so.
Paying an estimated $70 million USD for the island, he originally kept it for himself, friends and business partners to use before allowing Azura Retreats to take over and run it as an elite resort, with rates starting from $185 per night.
7) Family Sign 20 Year Lease For Island
Moving down to the Gold Coast of Australia, there is an island roughly 2,700 acres in size which will be leased to an unnamed Australian family over the next 20 years.
They paid a little under $1 million for sole access to Saint Bees Island which already has 100,000 liters of water storage, a power generator and plenty of space. Out of the entire island however, there is only just under 10 acres for building and living spaces as the rest of the island is a national park. In the middle of nowhere, no one around and surrounded by nature by the ocean on your own beach would be one of the best get-aways imaginable.
6) From Teaching Math To Living In Paradise
A little island called Bokeelia is situated off the southwest coast of Florida, and on it is a large 4 bedroom Spanish-styled villa, built by the famous inventor Charles Burgess who was frequently visited on the island by the one and only Thomas Edison, around the 1920s.
Now, the ownership of Bokeelia has fallen to ex-math teacher and entrepreneur Mark Pentecost and his wife Cindy. Mark was a teacher who just wanted some extra bucks but later quit his job when business opportunities took off, allowing for him to afford the island. It comes with a guest village, numerous ports and beaches, a tennis court and so much more luxury, costing a little less than $29 million.
5) Babs And Evelyn Atkins
Off of the southeastern coast of Cornwall, England lies the idyllic and historic island called Looe, with a rich history back to at least the 12th century.
In 1965, two sisters called Babs and Evelyn, purchased the island for an undisclosed amount and lived there full time until both of their deaths. In that time, one of the sisters, Evelyn, actually wrote two books detailing what living on the island was like and the purchasing process, titled We Bought An Island (1976) and Tales From Our Cornish Island (1986).
Evelyn passed away in 1997, and her sister continued to live there until her death in 2004, with the sisters leaving the island to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust to maintain as a nature reserve.
4) A Man’s Growing Collection
Successful Chinese investor, 42 year old Lin Dong, was able to make plenty of money on the stock exchange in the 90s, giving him the freedom to purchase his first island which resides in the middle of a lake in his home province for family holidays.
That was in 2006, and since then Lin has gone all around the world and currently has a collection of over 30 islands which he has purchased. It seems that there is a new craze amongst China’s super-rich for snapping up ideal holiday islands, as Lin leads a group of wealthy Chinese men through the South Pacific, looking for more to buy.
3) Investing In New Zealand
Unnamed Chinese investors have recently signed a deal with the New Zealand Government for the purchase of two islands right next to Auckland city for approximately $26.9 million USD. With a combined area of over 66 acres, the buyers are considering immediately constructing a 6 star hotel on one island while the other will need further consideration, as it is coastal and therefore protected ground.
If they decide to develop a native nature reserve alongside the hotel, then the investors could be looking at spending $84.5 million USD on the entire job.
2) Richart Sowa
Originally from Yorkshire in England, Richart found his way to Cancun in Mexico where he began his project. For seven years, he carefully constructed his floating island paradise and ended up making a three story house complete with a hot tub and an internet connection. Oh, did we mention that he built the base out of over 150,000 recycled plastic bottles?
With his house finished, the artistically minded Richart just needed someone to share his eco-friendly paradise with, who he soon found. The home doesn’t lack any comforts either, having two bedrooms, three showers, a large kitchen and much more to entertain him and his love.
1) Hawaii’s Forbidden Island
Held within the same family since its purchase from the Hawaiian King Kamehameha V in 1864, Niihau received the name of “Forbidden” only from the polio epidemic in 1952 when it was practically sealed from the rest of the world.
Bought from the King by a woman named Elizabeth Sinclair for $10,000, the island has remained relatively unchanged over time as it is a natural haven for many endangered animal species. The island is maintained by Sinclair’s great-grandsons who not only look after the natural environment but also help support the 130 or so Niihauans currently sharing the island with them.
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