Imagine laying on the warm sand of an abandoned, white sand beach – somewhere in the middle of the pacific. Imagine the birds singing, and the salt water wind blowing gently over you hot body. Now imagine being completely alone, with the exception of the ones you love most. Sounds like paradise – doesn’t it? The description above is just a small taste of what it’s like to own a small chunk of heaven on earth.

Buying an island is very similar to buying a condo – only on a much greater scale. If you’re one of the rare few who fall under the umbrella of people who don’t notice the price tag prior to making a lavish purchase, you just might have what it takes to own a personal chunk of paradise.

open-up-your-wallet

Most private islands run for at least six figures – a tad more than what most of us would be able to pitch for a piece of floating rock. Thousands of uninhabited islands dot our oceans. These tiny specks of untapped potential are waiting for the few wealthy enough to purchase them. The Indonesian Archipelago includes 17,000 individual isles and the Philippines boast over 7,000. Just because most islands run over $1 million, it doesn’t mean that Islands less than six figures aren’t available. However the old adage holds true – you get what you pay for.

The cheapest islands on the market are typically found in places like Michigan, Maine, and Nova Scotia, Canada. These are often populated with pine trees, rocky shores, a fishing shanty and maybe a dock. But isolated luxury islands in tropical climates, replete with housing and lavish accommodations, can cost more than 99% of us will make in a lifetime.

nova-scotia-private-islands

To give a point of reference for the kind of gradient that exists between those who can afford islands and those who cannot.

Bear with me.

Let’s assume that an average American graduates high school at the age of eighteen and graduates college four years later. Let’s also assume that the fresh graduate lands their dream job making a generous 60k a year – right out of college. Getting comfortable in his job our hypothetical character works day in and day out until the ripe age of 65, and retires. At this point, the old man would have about $2,580,000 in his bank account had he saved every penny – Before taxes.

Even after all of these assumptions this scenario is still a stark contrast to Larry Ellison, who reportedly spent $500 million on a pretty rock off of Hawaii. I’ll spare you the calculator work – that’s a difference of over $497 million between our hypothetical man’s untaxed life savings and Mr. Elisions vacation home. Fun fact – this makes this island, at least for 99% of us, the world’s most expensive parking spot for Ellison’s 454-foot mega yacht.

larry-elison-island

Obviously parking a yacht isn’t the only thing you can do on your own island! This might come as a surprise to some, but the strictures surrounding island ownership vary according to the policy of whichever national government is steward over it. Islands off the coast of China, for example, cannot be bought at all, but are only rented for a period of time. No rent-to-own isles off the coast of Shandong and Jiangsu either! Other islands, however, open up possibilities most of us cannot even begin to imagine.

Cue Michael Oliver – perhaps some of you have heard how this real estate tycoon started the libertarian Phoenix Foundation (in addition to making his millions). If that’s not impressive enough, read on!

With the brunt of his many bucks, Oliver would raise the reefs of Minerva, long submerged in Pacific waters, with sand shipped from Australia. On this land he would found the libertarian Republic of Minerva, located just southeast of Fiji. Here, Oliver envisioned a political bastion insulated from the capricious and selfish desires of big government. Eventually, territorial disputes with the island kingdom (those still exist?) of Tonga, would lead to an expeditionary force being sent to Minerva reefs. In the resulting chaos following the occupation, the Republic would collapse, ending Oliver’s libertarian dream. Too bad.

libertarian-utopia

This is the sort of thing we read about in Ayn Rand books and in the utopian societies of science fiction. Let me clarify: this is the kind of thing we are only willing to humor in works of fiction. But this is fact. It happened.

This amazing and somewhat tragic tale of a man with enough money to artificially convert submerged reefs in the pacific into his own socio-political paradise accurately depicts the kind of lifestyle available to those who can afford to buy an island.

If, like me, you find the price range for a private island outside your pay grade, have no fear! Recent shifts in the island real estate market, along with some clever entrepreneurship, have spurred the invention of the “private island vacation.” Regular folks – who can’t afford to shell out millions for a pretty rock of their own – can rent their paradise off the coast of Florida or on an island in the Caribbean for as little as $500 a night.

Just remember – you always get what you pay for.