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Has anyone here bought property in Bonaire?

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by danam404, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. Peter Bomberg

    Peter Bomberg Solo Diver

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    Most of the story is rather simple, change in marital status but irrelevant to the question, the real issue I think is the realization that while I loved Bonaire as a vacation spot (and if the local government would go back to caring about the reef rather than their pockets, I would likely love it again) the reality is as somebody stated very well there is not much to do on the island, so spending 2-3 weeks at a time is great, I was there for 6 once and it was getting a bit long, not unbearable at all as I was there in the winter and going for a long run and some shore diving beats shoveling every single time.

    The reality is even being very central (a block away from Dive Friends Bonaire @ Yellow Submarine) back then there was not that much to do in the area (unless you hung out at bars) and with the massive tax changes on 10/10/10, owning a place went from a ok investment to a bad one pretty much overnight.

    Unless your really into relaxing or reading, biking, walking, running in addition to diving, I recommend going there for a vacation and not owning, I would say do the math as you can probably rent for 3-4 months at the same cost as owning.
     
    markmud, Schwob, keesmon and 2 others like this.
  2. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
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    From what I am reading and hearing, the situation in Venezuela is having a big impact on the ABCs now and potentially worse impacts in the future. I would not even think about buying on the ABCs until the Venezuela situation gets normalized. The islands are already cash strapped and they are devoting an inordinate amount of their resources on interdiction, shelter, health care, law enforcement, crime and return of refugees and those entering illegally not to mention the impact on the economy with the disruption in oil storage, refinery and trade.
     
    LiteWeight and markmud like this.
  3. mi000ke

    mi000ke Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Massachusetts & Grand Cayman Island
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    We (well mostly my wife) decided a few year ago to spend about half the year – mostly winter and a few weeks in the other seasons - on Grand Cayman after vacationing here a few times. GC may be similar to Bonaiare in some respects. My wife's a non-diver (but a snorkeler) so we needed a place where there were some other things to do. We ended up buying a place, and by renting it out when we are not here it pays for all our out-of-pocket costs to own the property (a condo) – so it’s worked out that we essentially have a free place to stay. And the appreciation so far has covered the cost of our investment. Buying a place here is almost identical to the process in the US.

    We both were fortunate enough to take early retirement, so working here is not an issue, although I have had a couple of non-diving work offers and could probably get a work permit if needed. But not really interested.

    Life here on the island as a resident becomes like life anywhere. We get up, make breakfast, work out at the gym, I practice sax for a couple of hours, read the paper, eat lunch, maybe go swimming or snorkeling, walk the dog, shop for food, do laundry, make supper, watch some TV, go down to the beach to have a sunset drink, maybe sit in with a local band if I still have any energy, and pretty soon it’s bedtime. Our routine is not much different that when we’re back north, except that it’s 25-30 degrees up there and 80+ degrees here on GC during the winter. Here I can read the paper on the porch, and of course we have the beach and the warm ocean.

    I fit it 2 – 3 dive outings per week. No pressure to do more as we have plenty of time.

    We have guests visiting about half the time we’re here (every relative you never knew you had), so we get to contrast the holiday/vacation mindset with the resident mindset. Our visitors want to see all the sights that we are tired of seeing. They want to eat out all the time – we might go out once a week just like up north. If they are divers, they want to dive every day. My ears don’t like that. As a resident the pace is just a lot slower and life more routine, especially if you are working.

    So if you are thinking of making the move, while it’s great to live and work in a warm diving mecca, it’s not a vacation.... It’s much better :) But definitely think about visiting, then renting before committing. Also try to talk with as many locals as you can before making a decision. Good luck!
     
  4. Peter Bomberg

    Peter Bomberg Solo Diver

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    One more thing to add to mi000ke's well articulated comments above, if you are coming heading to Bonaire and like to be busy make sure you research the local scene first. I love being outside and reading, therefore there was enough for me to do, but I had friends go to Bonaire and after 2 weeks they were bored, the loved the diving but wanted to be in a crowd (or that was my impression) and they were complaining it was too hot to spend hours outside (let alone go for 1+hr runs).

    But before you buy I really strongly suggest asking yourself why you are buying, personally I don't like going back to the same place over and over when there are so many great places to explore and financially while you can rent the place out when you are not there buy the time you tie up 500+K and pay for maint and tax and so on, your not making money according to my quick math, we found renting a place in Asia for 2-3 months including all costs came out cheaper (and I still think diving in Asia beats the Caribbean, but that is my opinion).

    So if you like the routine it's an amazing option, if you like exploring it's awful.

     
    mi000ke and markmud like this.
  5. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
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    Love Bonaire but wouldn't live there. Got a few questions to consider:

    1.) Do you like almost every day to be bright, sunny and hot, like summer time all the time? And hardly any beach. A whole lot of thorny vegetation and cacti, scruffy looking/shrubby. Do you like drought conditions?

    2.) Imagine there is no Amazon, no Amazon Prime, and your access to commercial goods is greatly curtailed.

    3.) How long till you want to dive somewhere else and see things Bonaire isn't known for?

    4.) Are you looking to buy a condo., live there 2 - 3 months/year and rent it it out the rest of the time, or live there full time?

    5.) Are there family you'd like to see occasionally without everyone visiting needing a grand round trip plane ticket plus baggage costs?

    6.) Just how low maintenance are you in terms of civilized entertainment?

    7.) Are you aware of utility costs? I hear electricity is expensive there.

    Richard.
     
    markmud likes this.
  6. markmud

    markmud Self Reliant Diver--On All Dives. ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: South Lebanon, Ohio
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    Hi OP,

    I have been to Bonaire. I am planning a trip next December and we will probably go back to Bonaire. We really like it. Live there? No way.

    I worked on Hawaii (Da Big Island) for almost a year. I spent from one week to 10 days per month in Kailua-Kona. I love it. But after 6 months, my wife and I decided that we could not live there and we could not buy one of the condos we were obtaining ministerial approvals for.

    The culture, the size of that little rock, the isolation, and our love of exploring large countries like the USA and Canada. Not to mention a large region like Europe.

    We would never purchase on an island as small as Hawaii. No way. We would love to rent for one to two months. Bonaire, Curacao, Grand Cayman, The Keys, USVI, and the list goes on. I am ready to go back to Kailua-Kona and da big island for a month or so. Puako and Captain Cook are calling me back.

    IMHO, a person is better off investing their money wisely and then spending some of the dividends by renting and travelling to different places.

    cheers,
    markm
     
  7. mi000ke

    mi000ke Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Massachusetts & Grand Cayman Island
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    Good points. We considered this before coming to GC, and found that we like the familiarity of coming to the same place - no time spent figuring out the lay of the land, so to speak - where to eat, where to dive, what to see, how to get around, etc. And being able to jump on a plane with just a small backpack at the last minute is nice, as we leave our clothes, dive equipment, etc down there. That said, we also take a vacation to somewhere else once or twice a year. When you move to somewhere like an island, it is not a vacation, as I mentioned in my earlier post. It's home, but in a different location. So you may still need a vacation to somewhere else, and that is something to factor in.

    Regarding the financial issues, my wife and I both have somewhat of a financial background. I did a very extensive analysis of cost and potential return on investment of every condo we looked at (about 15), plus rating each property on other factors as well. We also compared the cost of rental vs ownership. We had our real estate agent chase down all the financial info. Some properties would be cheaper to rent than own, some more expensive but still would not show a positive return. The property we ended up buying - and we got pretty lucky as it came on the market while we were visiting on island looking at other properties and was up for quick sale - ended up showing a positive return on paper. Looking back since we've owned it, the off season rental we get has paid for every cost we incur for the entire year (condo fee, maintenance, utilities, cable tv, etc.), and the property value appreciated at a 10% per year every year. So if you add in what we would have paid to rent plus the capital appreciation, it's worked out to be a pretty good deal - even better than the recent US stock market. But you really have to do your homework if you are looking at the move from an financial investment perspective. But if this is to be your new home, you don't want to look at it just from a financial perspective.

    These are all great questions. 1) We do miss autumn in New England, 2) No easy online shopping has actually been a big issue. There is a limited selection of goods from limited outfits on small islands, and getting something shipped here is quite a production, plus long time delays and dealing with customs and paying duty. Even just simple things - so I needed a new filter for my underwater camera. None sold on the island. No amazon shipping. So we are using "visitor express", which we have to use for most of our shipments. We buy online and have the stuff shipped to the next group visiting us to bring down with them. 3) and 4) mentioned above. 5) Our problem is keeping the visitors away - except for our kids. 6) an issue for us as well. Turns out GC is pretty good in that area: lots of live music, theater, carnivals, other events. Definitely something to consider. 8) electricity and water are very expensive. As is usually most everything, as most things need to be shipped into these islands.
     
  8. Peter Bomberg

    Peter Bomberg Solo Diver

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    Back to the original question to buy on Bonaire, I will caution you with my experience, which may be a combination of bad timing and bad luck but my property lost roughly 15% of it's value and while it was rented out almost full time, the rental cost on Bonaire is rather low. I think the situation has improved now so you might not be looking at a loss, but I don't think you are looking at a large annual appreciation if any.

    If you are from Canada getting to and from the island is not as simple as most people think other than via charters and they are only seasonal and we actually had almost no visit requests as other than divers nobody wants to spend time there really (1-2 days sure, 1-2 weeks nope).

    I am not saying don't buy I am saying make sure buying is the right option.
     
    markmud and chillyinCanada like this.
  9. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada Solo Diver Staff Member

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    Something more that I don't think has been mentioned, it can happen that you need/want to sell your property and it doesn't sell. Could be timing, could be oversupply, could be who knows?

    Perhaps you or your spouse are sick and you need to be in your home country. Trying to extricate yourself can be much more difficult than getting in.
     
    markmud, Lorenzoid and drrich2 like this.
  10. Peter Bomberg

    Peter Bomberg Solo Diver

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    chillyinCanada well said it took me about 4 years! and I lost a fair amount on the investment.
     
    markmud likes this.

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