Photo courtesy One Sandy Lane
Tony Blair goes house hunting in Barbados
Barbados’ luxury homes have regularly filled column inches in the world press since the Concorde was a weekly visitor and five billionaires bought the exclusive Sandy Lane Hotel. But these headliners are only the tip of the iceberg. Over two thousand non-resident have chosen to buy homes in Barbados over the last few years ranging from modest condominiums to fifty million dollar mansions making Barbados the pre-eminent luxury vacation home destination in the Caribbean. It is not by any means the cheapest island, but it ticks all the boxes for the vacationer looking to spend more leisure time in the sun.
Barbados is a sophisticated sort of paradise. Not a Robinson Crusoe escape to solitude but the kind of place you choose to go to for its coral beaches, spectacular golf courses, polo fields, restaurants, arts and festivals. Buying a home in Barbados is a lifestyle decision, and most buyers want a different lifestyle to back home without giving up first class amenities. Barbados works and Barbados is fun.The reasons why so many choose to buy a home in Barbados are:
Ease of entry
Barbados has no buyer’s taxes and no alien landholding license requirements. In other islands such as St. Lucia, Grenada, and Tobago taxes on purchase range from 4% to 10% and license requirements are onerous, annoying and on average take between four to nine months to obtain. That isn’t to say that anyone can turn up and buy. Barbados is very serious about its commitment to anti-money laundering regulations. But the government appreciates the importance of the sector, and is working hard on new fast track residency provisions for regular repeat visitors. After all, making an investment in the Island is the greatest act of loyalty a visitor can make.
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Annual property taxes, which are 0.6% of value, are much lower than in many competing destinations and are capped at US $30,000 for higher value homes. There is no capital gains tax here and taxes on sale of property are only 3.5% of the sale price after deduction of an allowance. So buying, holding and selling a home is an easy and inexpensive process.
Outdoor pursuits top the lifestyle barometer, with 5 championship golf courses, three polo fields, a racetrack, a marina and yacht club, and of course world class water-sports including surfing and diving. Dining and shopping also rank high on the list of many visitors and with over 200 restaurants there is plenty of choice. The new Limegrove Lifestyle Centre will elevate the shopping experience as Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Armani A/X, Cartier, Agent Provocateur and many others open their doors in the coming months. Barbados hosts world-class events. In the arts the Holders Season and the Jazz festival top the list, and in sports, international cricket at Kensington Oval is a must see. A host of other events fill the calendar and add to the enjoyment of all. Barbados has hosted three world championships this year. But of course it would be remiss of me to leave out the weather. Never hotter than 90 degrees or cooler than 75, Barbados has the perfect climate for those escaping more severe seasons in their principal homelands.
Quality of product
Barbados has many high quality builders and the artisans, who work for them, are world-class. The Sands, the finest development ever built-in Barbados, has just opened to much acclaim and the coral stone work is a fine example of the quality of the local workmanship.
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For an island with few significant natural resources, we have a precious, inexhaustible one: coral stone features in almost all the luxury homes, as either the building blocks, the render, or in its most beautiful form when it is hand carved by stone masons. It is a very easy material to work with and is rare in the Caribbean as most islands are volcanic in origin and not coral formations. The use of coral stone either as accents, or for the structure of fine homes all across the island, contributes greatly to their beauty and appeal.
Barbados has a sophisticated second home market. Five of the UK’s largest estate agencies are represented here and there are many long-established agencies with excellent professional services including property management, vacation rentals and sales. The after-market works well and many buyers benchmark any purchase of a new home against the value they can achieve from a resale. Most of the homes sold in the last twelve months have been resales, and often the vendors have been British and have capitalized on currency gains created by the fall in value of sterling over the last two years.
Barbados is a great place to do business. Often a second home purchase completes a winning combination, and a recent trade is that of expatriates choosing Barbados as a place of permanent residence and buying a first home. Many businesses can be conducted from anywhere in the world, and with excellent direct flight connections many business people are choosing to spend the majority of their time here. For business, fun and sophisticated amenities Barbados is hard to beat.