Packing up and moving to an exotic island has been a long-held dream for many globetrotters, but it seems the prospect is becoming even more attractive due to the global pandemic.
A number of island brokers reported a huge spike in demand for private islands in the months after Covid-19 brought much of the world to a standstill, with one telling the New York Times he'd had his busiest two months in over 20 years. And judging from the response to this upcoming floating luxury real estate development launching close to the Bahamas in 2025, interest in relocating to a safe haven in the middle of the sea is still high.
The Blue Estate Group has been inundated with requests after unveiling plans for the man-made Blue Estate Island, where property prices start at $19,800and rise to over $1 billion.
Located a 25-minute plane journey from Bahamas capital Nassau and just under 90 minutes from Miami, the island will measure 4,921 feet by 3,280 feet (1,500 meters by 1,000 meters), an area half the size of Monaco, and can accommodate up to 15,000 permanent residents.
A rendering of the Blue Estate island, which is due to launch close to Miami in 2025.
Courtesy The Blue Estate Group. Those who snap up a place at the "world's most exclusive private residence" will be treated to more than 340 days of sunshine each year thanks to the island's prime location, according to the developers.
"At first we were worried whether the current pandemic might have a negative impact on the project," Erik Schmidt, Chief Communications Officer for the Blue Estate Group, tells CNN Travel.
"But luckily it played out differently. Some districts are almost completely sold out and the sales team is doing it's best to keep up with the requests and questions."
The properties on offer range from $19,800 interior apartments measuring 20 square meters, $194,400 balcony apartments, a $54 million five-bedroom garden villa and two "signature estate" mega mansions, each with an estimated $1.15 billion price tag.Those wealthy enough to afford the latter will need to present a "groundbreaking architectural concept" before they can be approved to purchase the mansion, and Schmidt confirms that one application has already been submitted. The island, which is built with "ultra-high performance concrete modules," will have its own state-of-the-art health clinic, as well as an international school that can cater to children from "toddlers age to diploma graduates."
'Everybody is welcomed
Residents are likely to get more than 340 days of sunshine each year thanks to the island's prime location. "There are no special requirements to become a resident on the Blue Estate," Schmidt explains.
"We require all residents and visitors to comply with the "Blue Estates Community Guidelines & Rules" from the day they arrive on the island, and they must be able to self-maintain their life on the island.
"Everybody is welcome to buy, own or rent a property and/or open a business on the Blue Estate."
Residents who work here can apply for a range of business licenses, valid for a period of 12 months, but they will not be subject to taxes.
"The increase in remote work opportunities of the past decade (not only due to the pandemic) allows more people to freely choose a 'home base' that meets their individual requirements best," he explains, before indicating that the average resident's ages is likely to be "significant lower" her than most other cities.
"Young entrepreneurs can focus on their start-up business and don't have to battle paperwork and pay high taxes."
The developers are planning to use renewable sources on the island so it has a negative CO2 output. Blue Estate will also hold a number of ocean clubs, lagoon-style pools, playgrounds, markets, restaurants, bars and shopping areas, so residents are likely to have plenty to keep them entertained.Although it's difficult to judge how much the global pandemic may have contributed to buyers' decision to purchase a property at Blue Estate, Schmidt says many have expressed worries about "personal or business restrictions" in their home countries.
Although the majority of buyers have been from the US, some properties have been purchased by residents of Canada as well as Europe and China."Dissatisfaction has always been and will remain, a driving factor for change," Schmidt adds. There's also no visa requirement for buyers, residents "can stay as long as they wish on the Blue Estate," according to Schmidt. However, all arrivals be subject to airport-style security checks.
While construction doesn't begin until next year and the island won't be fully completed for another four years, some of the properties may be ready for handover by mid-2023.
In order to achieve its goal of being one of the "world's greenest communities," all of the island's energy will be generated from renewable sources, and it will operate a policy of no single use plastic and zero emission. Blue Estate is also open to non-residents, however visitors must apply for a permit/visa prior to their trip as only a specific number of visitors will be allowed on the island at the time. There will be two hotels on the island to accommodate visitors.
Construction is yet to begin on Blue Estate, but buyers are already snapping up the homes on offers. Although its position in the Caribbean Sea means strong current could become a concern, the island is protected with outside walls measuring over 160 foot that will "dwarf the ocean's biggest waves," according to the Blue Estate Group. It will also hold automated hurricane shutters that can be extended to provide the community with an additional shield from high winds.
In the worst-case scenario, the entire island can be "moved out of the way" of any incoming storms due to its high-tech features.
While Blue Estate appears to be the first first floating real estate development that allows buyers to purchase its properties, Schmidt believes similar projects will begin to pop up in the future, particularly due to the demand for isolated locations, which has been brought about by the pandemic. "Our engineers have been working on the project since 2016, which gives us a bit of a head-start," he says. "But nevertheless, we already have plans to scale up if demand stays on the current level or increases." News of the development comes as construction continues on the Heart of Europe, a $5 billion mega resort made up of a group of six man-made islands off the coast of Dubai designed to replicate popular European destinations such as Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Venice. Work on the ambitious project, which will largely be made up of hospitality establishments and second homes, began in 2003 and is due for completion in 2023.