When it comes to vacation destinations for Canadians, there are few choices as popular as the Caribbean. Great weather, welcoming people, vibrant cultures, and numerous options present a huge draw for Canadians looking to get away, especially in the winter months. Some Canadians, however, take it a step further and choose to invest their money in real estate in the region for both personal enjoyment and financial benefits.
A 2018 report from Point2Homes indicated that behind the U.S. and Mexico, the Caribbean nations took up more than half of the list of Canadians' top spots for international real estate purchases.
Though buying beyond our borders may seem stressful, thousands of Canadians are doing it a year, and now may be one of the best times to consider making your purchase in the Caribbean as the Canadian real estate market becomes increasingly expensive and competitive.
The biggest reason that draws Canadians to the Caribbean needs little introduction. The many nations in the area have year-round sunny weather, fantastic beaches, and no shortage of resorts, attractions, and more. For these same reasons, investing makes sense too.
If you choose to own a property in the Caribbean, you can enjoy the luxury of having your very own vacation home that you can enjoy whenever you want – it’s as simple as booking a flight. For families who like to take yearly vacations, you get to invest what you would typically be spending into an asset of your own. Paying for vacation every year can add up, so why not invest that while also enjoying your yearly getaways?
It is also worth mentioning that the Caribbean is far from a homogenous region. Many different cultures, attractions, and lifestyle options are found in the region. Interested buyers will have their pick of any number of different countries that suit their specific desires best.
In the Caribbean, where tourism is a huge industry, they know a thing or two about being welcoming, which extends to real estate. Many nations are very welcoming to foreign investors.
In countries including Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and more, there are few barriers to buying as a foreigner as long as you have the money. Some countries like St Lucia and Dominica even offer citizenship programs for foreign investors who meet a certain threshold.
Making it even easier, many of these nations speak English, and some even have historical ties to the British Commonwealth, making them in some ways sister nations to Canada. This can create a lot of familiar commonalities between our political, real estate, and banking systems, meaning the process of buying a home may not be so different from what you are used to in Canada.
Furthermore, banks in these countries are used to working with foreign borrowers. Many will have programs to help foreigners every step of the way and make the borrowing process as easy as possible.
Many people have a conception that to get a home in the sunny tropics, you need to spend an exorbitant amount of cash. While this may be true for some of the more luxury properties, there are many price points across the region. And, with lots of interest from investors, new vacation developments are being built all the time with a range of prices.
And, have you looked at Canadian prices lately? No real estate will be cheap, but Canada has gotten particularly bad in the last couple of years, especially when it comes to cottages and recreational properties. In the Lakelands region of Ontario’s cottage country, the median price for a lakefront property was $1.2 million in April 2022. When faced with the choice of buying a million-dollar cottage in Canada or a villa in the Cayman Islands for the same price, it's no surprise that some have chosen to opt for the latter.
With travel restrictions abound in the last two years, many markets that work with foreign investors were forced to become more flexible regarding real estate sales and ownership. In today's world, real estate agents have taken full advantage of modern technology to sell homes even when the buyer is an ocean away.
What that means for Canadians is that buying remotely in the Caribbean is easier than ever these days. You can work remotely with a real estate agent, take virtual tours, and in some areas, you can even buy without setting foot in the country.
You should probably think about at least visiting before buying. But, if you already have a favourite destination you have visited in the past, you may be able to return to your own vacation home as soon as your next vacation.
The power of technology extends beyond the purchase and into property management. Since there are so many eager vacationers, and you likely won’t be at your vacation property all year round, many have chosen to rent out their units on a short-term basis.
With property managers and the popularity of short-term rental services like AirBnb, renting is easier than ever. You can offset a lot of the costs associated with your property and potentially even make an income to boot.
Given the closures seen across the world for the last two years, we may likely see a new boom in vacation travel as the world opens back up. By owning a property now, you could make the most of that opportunity.
With the always-present demand for vacations and an increasingly troubling outlook in the Canadian real estate market, it seems like a no-brainer to get away and put your money to work while doing it. While the Caribbean is only one of the many international regions where Canadians can (and do) buy real estate, it is undoubtedly one of the most appealing for both its lifestyle and financial benefits.
That being said, there may be downsides as well. Buying in a foreign country comes with its share of new tax and legal challenges and the added complexity of travel and, potentially, immigration rules. Luckily, these challenges can be overcome, especially with the right help. Consider speaking to an international real estate specialist, or reach out to a brokerage in the country of your choice to learn more about how they can help you navigate the process.
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