Guide to Buying a Home in the Caribbean
When considering the best Caribbean island to buy property on, it is important to take many aspects into consideration. The team from the Island Living Collective put together this guide to buying a home in the Caribbean to help you with this decision-making process. We believe that the U.S. Virgin Islands are the best place to buy Caribbean property–but don’t just take our word for it! Read below to hear from some of our top agents and brokers about why they love to call the USVI home and why now is the time to invest in Caribbean island properties.
Why choose the Virgin Islands when considering buying a second home in the Caribbean?
- The VI has a more relaxed way of life
- There are all the outdoor activities (hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, relaxing on the beach) to consider
- Natural beauty on the islands
- There is a great sense of community
- The islands offer immense privacy (if that’s what you’re looking for)
- They are American territories, use American dollars and English is the first language
- Many activities and easy Island hopping is available
- Great weather all year round
- Great people all year round
- The tourist market here is fabulous year-round and the ability to rent your home and earn income from it when you are not here is outstanding
- Traveling here is easy with the many direct flights to the mainland.
- Our buyers are looking for a more different lifestyle and that is something that living on an island offers. You can still work hard but when it comes to playing, nothing beats our beaches and our sunshine all year long.
What are the benefits of purchasing in alternate markets (like the VI) for tax purposes?
- There are lower property taxes here than in “paradise-like” places in the states.
- Immense EDC opportunities (incentives listed here https://www.usvieda.org/incentives/edc-program)
- One of the best things about the VI is the way it “feels” very international/exotic, but in fact is not! It is the US and with this comes all of the usual legal protections and systems of government people living on the mainland are used to.
- With the Economic Development Commission Tax Incentive also known as EDC benefits, we are seeing more and more companies moving here. That means that they will need more housing for their employees whether it be condos or single-family homes.
Have you noticed any trends now that the consumer is more available and able to work remotely?
- Currently, I think many second home buyers are choosing the VI for a second home because of the ease of traveling back and forth. Some buyers can jump on a non-stop flight, which is very appealing. Also, the COVID testing restrictions have not been too challenging that it would deter people from traveling here
- Some buyers that I have worked with are hoping to move here full time and work remotely, and many are considering this to be an investment. Then later down the road, they plan to move here long term.
- For those that were looking to move now, they absolutely love the VI and all the outdoor activities that are available to anyone. Plus, if they are working from home here they have found that they have a better work/life balance
- We have seen an increase in inquiries for second home purchases with short term rental investment opportunities since COVID
- More and more people from the states are looking to own a second home in St Thomas and look to do short term renting /AirBnB with it and use the home for themselves when on vacation
- A lot more people are looking to live/rent in the VI as they are now working remotely. If they can work from home, why not with an amazing ocean view!
- One of the many things employers have learned from the pandemic is how much unnecessary “in person” work was being done in their companies. Part of this is large corporations seeing in black and white on paper the true cost of office space and the value in employee satisfaction of working from home. These lessons are directly causing more and more employers to be open to remote work. The opportunities for employees to live where they choose and work remotely have never been greater and with the installation and upgrading of communications systems on the islands, especially since the storms, the ability of people to work remotely has never been greater.
- We are seeing an influx of stateside buyers who would rather work from home on a sunny island that is also part of the US. You can work from anywhere, so why not the US Virgin Islands. My buyers tell me that even with the mask mandate, we have the ability to be outdoors more, which is much healthier mentally. It has been very good, especially for families.
Other thoughts on the current Caribbean real estate market.
- The VI has seen a great increase in Airbnb supply
- A big part of the long term rental market has switched to short term rental, leaving the market with a very low inventory for long term, therefore increasing the prices in that market (+ demand/- supply)
- For Sale Inventory is the lowest we’ve seen in a very long time
- We are seeing numerous indications that the increase in value of real estate in the VI is not due to any kind of bubble that will burst, but in fact, is directly related to basic economics that we all understand. High demand and low supply.
- Buyers can reasonably expect the value of their property to increase as this market has a low/incredibly slow ability to correct itself. Unlike mainland markets where individuals and groups of investors will see opportunities because of housing shortages and can respond fairly quickly, there is simply a limit to the ability of the real estate market here on island to correct itself with any kind of speed. The difficulty and cost of building on island slows this process significantly.
If you’re looking to buy property in the Caribbean, consider making the U.S. Virgin Islands your new home. Contact the team at the Island Living Collective to learn more about properties available on the island and find your new work from home paradise.