"How would one ever become a resident of the islands? "
It ain't easy...the easiest way would be to marry someone who already has a house there. Or second easy way would be to have it bequeathed to you by a spouse or a parent (they can only be willed to spouses or children).
Otherwise, you'd have to be lucky enough to win a lottery to get on the list, which is capped at 500 names. Even if you were that lucky, there's only an average of only 2 or 3 houses sold on the Islands each year. And this is always sold to someone within the first 100 names on that list. Realistically, if you got on the list today, you'd probably die before you got the chance to buy whatever came up for sale.
But even for those lucky enough to live there, there are definate downsides...it must be your primary residence (and you must be in residence there a minimum of 225 days per year). If you ever want to sell, you cannot sell it yourself...it is sold by the Island Trust...and they decide the price...and that is determined only by the value of the construction cost of the structure....the land, size of the lot, location/views, landscaping...or anything else is not taken into consideration (you don't own the land anyway).
So...you will never make a penny of profit...not a very good investment as far as real estate goes. And it's a pisser, because you are only exempt from capital gains taxes on your primary residence...and this is it.
But for those who love the lifestyle it brings (which they all do), the upside is priceless.
Even though buying one is probably out of the question, the prices are sure pretty good....the leases go for $36,000 on Ward's and $46,000 on Algonquin (Algonquin has bigger lots). The lease prices are a one-time cost, and are good until 2092.
The actual house prices range anywhere from $30,000 to $400,000, but the average is between $60,000 and $160,000.
So...that house I showed would cost you $46,000 for the lease and probably around $50,000 for the house...so if you were lucky enough to actually be able to buy it, it would only cost you around $100,000.
"You mean even if you have the money, you can't buy it? "
No...they aren't market driven homes...the lease price for the land is set, and the house value is based on an appraisal of the construction cost of each individual home. A home for sale does not go to a highest bidder...it goes to the first person who wants to buy it at the fixed price from the list, starting with the #1 on the list.
"So how did these people get homes on the island in the first place? "
Most people have lived there a long time...some multi-generational. When the old leases were up in 1974, the city planned on demolishing the remaining 262 homes on the Island (they had already demolished over 400 homes in the 50's and 60's in other locations on the Islands)). There was a long 20-odd year legal battle to save the communities. They won, and in 1994, a new 100-year lease agreement was created.
So, the people who live there have either lived there a long time, or are one of the few lucky people who actually were first in line when the new lease list was created in 1994.
I hope talls are NEVER built on the islands. The place is so beautiful and tranquil.
The little streets with the small traditional houses in the eastern corner of the islands is incredible. I couldnt believe people actually lived there when I visited! Bit of a disadvantage if you want to drive a car though (the islands doesnt have a car ferry does it?)
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