Bahamas Real Estate: Where Should You Buy?

By: Matthew Simon

With20 major islands to choose from, deciding where to buy real estate in the Bahamascan be overwhelming. This quick primer will make it easy to find the islandthat best fits your tastes and budget.

Nassau and Freeport

Thecities of Nassau on New Providence Island andFreeport on Grand Bahamaare the only choices for buyers who want urban or suburban surroundings and theamenities that come with it--extensive shopping, a wide array of culturalopportunities, hospitals, multiple golf courses, and direct flights to manymajor airports.

NewProvidence, a small island dominated by Nassauand its suburbs, is home to 215,000 people—fully three-fourths of the Bahamas’population. Nassau has a busy downtown with bothmodern and historic architecture, and on the outskirts, a strip of high-risehotels and casinos along Cable Beach.? ParadiseIsland, connected to New Providence by a bridge, is home to the gargantuan Atlantis andother resorts. New Providence and Paradise Island have many gatedsubdivisions and townhouse developments, as well as high-rise condominiums. Onaverage, real estate prices here are much more expensive than elsewhere in the Bahamas.? Expect to spend $1.5 million for a typicalcanal-front house in one of the popular gated communities.? A one-acre beachfront lot (the yardstick wewill use throughout this article) would cost at least $3 million.

Grand Bahama, the northernmost of the major Bahamianislands, has a population of 50,000, the greatest part in and around Freeport. Grand Bahama isalmost 100 miles long, however, and unlike New Providence,has less populated regions with deserted beaches and tropical pine forests.Lucaya, the residential area of Freeport,has a vast network of interconnected canals lined with thousands of home lots.Canal-front lots are reasonably priced--in the $125,000 to $250,000 range. One-acrebeachfront lots in Lucaya sell for $1.5 million and up.

The Out Islands

AfterFreeport, the largest “city" in the Bahamas is Marsh Harbour,with a population of only 5000.? Themajority of settlements in the Bahamasare even smaller, with just a few hundred souls. This is the world of the Out Islands—largeareas of untouched land with the occasional house or small village.

Abaco and Exuma

TheAbacos and Exumas are not adjacent physically, but they have much in common.They are the most popular yachting destinations in the Bahamas, and their islands and caysprovide beautiful cruising grounds.?Abaco and Exuma are better known than the other Out Islands,and they each have several major resort developments. Prices are thereforehigher. One-acre beachfront lots on Great Exuma are selling in the $1-2 millionrange.? Abaco has prices in this range aswell, but also less expensive beachfront in some locations.

Bimini

Hemingwaymade his “island in the stream" famous as a center of deep-sea fishing, and itremains so today. Bimini is also just 50 miles from the east coast of Florida, which ensures agood yachting crowd. Bimini has one major resort development, Bimini Bay Resortand Casino. Bimini Bay has no casino, but itdoes offer condos with boat slips in the $600,000 range. The only beachfrontlot listed on Bimini, for comparison purposes, is a 2.7 acre parcel for $1.7million.

Eleuthera

Withsixty miles of beaches and only a few dozen hotel rooms, Eleuthera is aparadise for beach lovers who enjoy privacy and unspoiled natural beauty.? Eleuthera has four major resorts planned orunderway, but none is near completion yet, and overall, the island is stillrustic and relatively unknown.? Eleutherais therefore less expensive than Abaco and Exuma--one-acre beachfront lots sellin the $500,000 range. With a population of 8000 and close proximity to resort-richHarbour Island, Eleuthera has good infrastructure,stores, and services. If and when Eleuthera’s nascent resorts succeed, pricesmay catch up to Exuma and Abaco.? Formore information about Eleuthera and its real estate, click here.

Andros, CatIsland, Long Island

Thesethree islands are the next step up in remoteness and the next step down in namerecognition, infrastructure, services, and prices.

Andros is said to be the largest unexplored landmass in the hemisphere. Theisland’s interior is home to the six-foot iguanas, the rare Bahamian boaconstrictor, and who knows what else. The east coast of the island, the onlypopulated area, has scattered villages and miles of deserted beaches. For thosenot afraid of who-knows-what-else, beachfront lots on Androsare selling in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.

Fiftymiles long and with a population of only 1600, Cat Islandis one place where you’ll never haveto wait in line. Cat has many miles of spectacular pink-sand beaches and severaldelightful boutique resorts.? A one-acrebeachfront lot will set you back $350,000-400,000.

Theaptly named Long Island is 96 miles long andonly seven miles wide at its widest point. Long Islandhas a varied topography ranging from hills and cliffs in the north, toflatlands in the south. Deadman’s Cay, the commercial center, is fairly wellequipped, with a medical clinic, banks, and well-stocked food stores. Primebeachfront lots on the island sell for $375,000, and lots on a narrower beachare currently selling for as little as $185,000.

San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island,Mayaguana, Inagua

Forthe true pioneers among you, these islands are farther south, more remote, andless populated. But the prices are tempting. A four-acre beachfront lot on Crooked Islandis selling for $525Article Search,000—95% less than you would pay in Nassau.

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