Who hasn’t dreamed of living far away from the world on their own island? Australians are now making the dream come true and buying tropical islets for home use – because they are now cheaper than a house in Sydney.
Wild scrubland, in which kangaroos and ant urchins live, surrounded by bright blue water – and only a five by nine meter house that indicates civilization. Craig Beckey did what most people only dream of: He bought an island. His little paradise is called Worthington Island. The approximately 280,000 square meter island is located in a channel on the Queensland coast, the “Sunshine State” in the tropical northeast, popular with tourists from all over the world.
“I never had the plan to live on an island,” said Beckey in an interview with the German press agency. “But when I saw a TV commercial for the island, I got curious.” Just under a year and a half ago, he bought Worthington Island for a little under 385,000 Australian dollars (around 244,000 euros).
Some islands are cheaper than a house
Compared to the usual Australian property prices – especially in the big cities – this is a bargain. The average cost of a house in Sydney is currently just under 1.4 million Australian dollars (around 887,000 euros). Nationwide, house prices rose by around 20 percent in the past year – this is the result of evaluations by CoreLogic, a company that publishes statistics on the real estate market.
Island Life: Craig Beckey’s dream came true. (Source: private / Craig Beckey / dpa)
So if you can’t afford the million dollar villa with sea view, you could even be cheaper with an entire island – private beach included. But it is not only the skyrocketing real estate prices that are making islands more attractive, the Corona crisis has also caused a rethink. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries since the pandemic,” says Richard Vanhoff, an island real estate agent. “People who otherwise would never have thought of leaving their city can now imagine a different lifestyle.”
In addition, those who have been working from home since the pandemic are no longer bound to live close to their place of work. Many Australian employers have announced that they will allow flexible working from home even after the pandemic.
Vanhoff has just sold an island to a writer from the southern state of Victoria. “The buyer had previously written in a house in the mountains, so isolation was nothing new to him,” says Vanhoff. “The lockdowns have restricted his freedom of movement – he can now do what he wants on his island.”
Island life doesn’t just have advantages
The complete seclusion, freedom and tranquility are what make their own island so attractive for many. But the lifestyle is also associated with a lot of work and obstacles. “Not every island has white dream beaches and palm trees,” says Craig Beckey. “Worthington Island is more like a big, wild bush lot.”
The 55-year-old commutes between his island and the coastal town of Noosa. Not only does his partner live here, his work as a product and real estate photographer also takes him back to the mainland. It’s a five-hour drive to Gladstone, from where Beckey rents a boat that takes him to his island in around 45 minutes. “Everything that is supposed to go on the island has to fit in the boat, including building materials, for example. I want to keep improving everything, but things are only progressing slowly,” says Beckey. He depends on the help of friends and family, who in return can enjoy the tranquility of Worthington Island.
Small cabin on Worthington Island: Everything has to be delivered by ship. That doesn’t make life on an island easy. (Source: private / Craig Beckey / dpa)
Beckeys little hut is equipped with solar panels, in bad weather the emergency generator has to work. There is also a water tank and a gas grill, and a real toilet will soon follow. “Fishing, catching crabs and just hanging out – that’s what it’s all about,” he says. Living in luxury is not – in many ways the opposite is the case. “Everything costs a little more effort, time and money. There is no garbage collection here, you have to take care of everything yourself.”
Little supply, much demand
Australia has a total of 8,222 islands. Most of them are in the sparsely populated state of Western Australia, just under 2,000 in sunny Queensland. This is also where the world-famous Whitsunday Islands are located, a group of 74 islands directly in front of the largest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef. However, only a few islands can be sold to private individuals. “Over the past year we have listed 16 islands, nine of which have been sold,” says broker Vanhoff. “Unfortunately, the supply is very scarce and the demand is high.”
Evening idyll: Buyers particularly appreciate the peace and seclusion on their own island. (Source: private / Craig Beckey / dpa)
While Craig Beckey got a real bargain with Worthington Island, many islands are more expensive. “We have some in the $ 1 million to $ 3 million range, but there are also up to $ 40 million islands with luxury resorts,” said Vanhoff.
Living on your own island in Australia is no longer just a dream that only the super-rich can fulfill. “You feel so far away from everyone and everything. It’s a very nice feeling,” says Beckey. He has big plans for Worthington Island: He wants to build a beautiful, comfortable house with a view of the sea where he can spend his old age.