What to Expect when Building your own Home on Bequia

Planning and building your own home is a daunting experience, but also an incredibly exciting and rewarding one. This will explore the basic and most vital aspects of the process.

The first and most important aspect to consider is budget. All real estate experts will advise consumers to determine a budget and work closely with that figure to get a realistic estimate of not only the exterior building costs but the fixtures and fittings for the inside of their home too.

Once a budget is in place, we would recommend increasing that number by 10%, simply to ensure that any unforeseen costs can be taken care of.

On average, a house should take between 18 and 24 months to complete, some projects may be finished sooner, providing they are well organized and planned thoroughly.

The next step would be to contemplate your location. Typically, in Bequia, we see most people choose their land based purely on the view, when there are many other equally important elements to be considered. For example, the gradient of the land can be crucial to the house’s entire design and layout, as elevations and slopes on the island can create many design issues. Seasonal weather conditions, strong trade winds and annual variations in the angle of the sun are also serious factors which should be firmly understood and taken into account before the design process has started.

Having built three homes to date, we have encountered every possible challenge and found the very best solutions to working with Bequia’s unique landscape at each step. We are more than happy to act as a consultant if required, sharing our intimate knowledge of this beautiful island and its topography to make building your dream home a stress-free reality.

Once you have discovered your perfect plot of land, you will need to select the right architect. If you would like to be heavily involved in the design of the property; it’s important to find an individual who you share a design synergy with, an architect who that can interpret your thoughts and ideas.

Appointing an experienced construction team is also vital, we would advise a local company who are equally as knowledgeable with local materials and the landscape as your chosen architect.

The next step is to plan the layout of your new home. Decide where each room will be positioned from both a practical and aesthetic point of view. Lighting and other electrical components to the property should also be planned before the building process, this ensures cable conduits can be installed during construction. The garden design should also be planned early too to allow diggers to leave the landscape as you would like it.

Power and water works are slightly different here than in Europe and the US. There is no water supply on the island, instead, water is collected from the roof of your home and stored in concrete tanks built under the property. This one essential element to your home highlights the importance of appointing the right construction company, an experienced team will be able to advise you on this process and execute the build perfectly.

Power is supplied by the government power station and UK type sockets are standard.

 This guide is of course, very rudimentary. However, we are available to provide in-depth knowledge and advice on every aspect from purchasing the land through to local planning controls and procedures. Building your own home is a wonderful experience and so we aim to take away as much stress as possible from our clients to ensure that their home is not only beautiful, but carefully considered, practical and designed to suit every need they may have.

Income Potential of a Holiday Rental on Bequia

According to MRI Property International, 24 million of us dream of purchasing land and property overseas. Despite the huge popularity for holiday homes however, only 15% of us would consider renting it out to make a financial return on the property when they’re not there. But an increasing number of us are deciding to book our holidays through private home owners rather than using hotels etc, this seems like a lost opportunity to earn secondary income on a huge investment.

Regardless of these figures, villas for rent are incredibly popular in Bequia and lot of people supplement the running cost of their villas by renting it out to holiday makers. Holiday rental portals such as Air B&B, Trip Adviser & Luxury Retreats provide a straight forward solution to renting out your property and allow owners to retain full control over any bookings made.

While the amount of money to be made will differ depending on the property type and location, renting out your property in sought-after areas, particularly during high season (December – April in Bequia), the potential income is certainly lucrative. Of course, rentals can either be short or long term, our home for sale, Iguana Rock, is the perfect example of a long-term rental. It Is currently on a three-month renewal in case the property is sold, but the existing renters have now been there for twelve months. Lucrative

So, despite being told we should never mix business with pleasure, purchasing a home in Bequia not only provides you with a beautiful spot to escape to but the chance to make a rewarding profit, all from the comfort of your own home!

Day to Day Life in Bequia

 

Bequia Island is smaller than most Caribbean islands and consequently has much more of a community atmosphere where everyone is friendly. There is a big expat community here too which is mainly made up of people from the UK and Canada, but also from USA, Germany and France. There are many bars and restaurants and you can almost guarantee seeing someone you know in most of them! Night life here is as you would expect it in the Caribbean to be – a hive of music, culture, beach barbeques and a dash of rum punch. During high season, there is a very busy social buzz amongst the local residents and the villa owners who frequent the islands during those months. During mid-season, there is a visible change which is lovely as it gets quieter but there is still good social life. When it’s low season, it is very quiet as most permanent residents return to their native country for a holiday. In addition to this there are some big events that take place across the year that simply cannot be missed.

The Music festival in January is a must. The atmosphere is electric at the event, which lasts for four days. It’s also been said it’s “The best kept secret in the Caribbean.” Another absolute must is the sailing regatta at Easter. Sailing in the Grenadines is probably the best in the world with its constant trade wind and many islands with lovely anchorages. Even for non-sailors this is a wonderful event as there are so many functions and games that take place. In fact, Bequia is very famous for scuba diving and snorkelling too -perhaps as it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful waters in the world. This is likely to be one of the reasons it’s so popular with painters and writers. It isn’t difficult to be inspired by this location and lifestyle

If you’d like to explore further afield then the walking and hiking is good here as there are many trails leading to remote beaches, alongside mountain walks with stunning views. Just a little further out, via a one-hour ferry trip, St Vincent also offers a massive selection of trails and hikes. Soufriere Volcano is a particularly stunning hike as are the Vermont Nature trail, Dark View Falls and Montreal Gardens. There’s no need to do it in one go as there are some picturesque lodges for overnight stays. Just a two-and-a-half-hour ferry trip away you will find Union Island. There are even more trails to remote beaches and boat trips to the famous Tobago cays and Mayreau island. This is another lovely little place you can spend a few days in some local accommodation.
Bequia has a very special appeal and when you’re here, it’s easy to see why.

Buying a Second Home in Bequia

Musing over the idea of having an island home in the tropics is surely familiar to most of us, but how many of us actually turn this dream into a reality? Well, the most popular group to purchase properties in Bequia, and other Caribbean islands, are families where their children have left home and they have made a decision to downsize their UK home to provide the capital to purchase a second property in the warmer climate.

Some spend little time in their new home to start with and, instead of moving there full time, rent out the house to holidaymakers with the longer term objective of making their Caribbean home a permanent one once they retire and tie up any loose ends in their existing residence. After all, such a move is a big and often daunting change, so people frequently decide to make the transition a gradual one. We have also found that many members of the expat community here in Bequia have online based businesses or creative careers which allows them the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.

When it comes to buying a second home on an island like Bequia, cost is either the biggest restriction or aspect of the move to consider. Drawing on our experience, we would encourage people to contemplate purchasing a villa on a shared basis with either family or friends. Particularly to those looking to spend a limited amount of time across the year on the island, owning 50% or 33.3% of a villa here and sharing it on a rotation basis is very cost effective alternative. If the property is larger, with two or three bedrooms, group visits to the island are possible and allocated times can overlap.

Plots from Rocky Bay, chiefly those over one acre in size, are ideally suited to this suggestion. One to two bedroom cottages could be built within the grounds with their own private balcony and kitchenette, which is exactly what we have built in our show home. A central area between the private properties could be constructed with a pool, lounge, kitchen and dining area that is shared by each cottage, both an enjoyable and practical situation for all shareholders.

If the idea of a shared plot of land sounds appealing, we are always more than happy to further discuss architectural and design ideas. With an intimate knowledge of the land and having planned and built a range of property designs, all of which are carefully considered and designed to suit a variety of needs, we are able to offer unparalleled help and advice.

The Pros & Cons of Building your own Home

Building your own home means you are getting exactly what you want, something bespoke and specific to your needs which is brand new. It will be maintenance free for a few years and the property will meet your exact requirements in style, size and position. Not only are you guaranteed to meet all the latest building regulations and energy efficiency measurements but your home will be completely unique to you. Your personality and stamp will be throughout the property and you can be as individual as you like. You can have a choice of pool size, colours, kitchen, sanitary ware, floors, windows and storage capacity. It is also much more cost effective as the required Alien License cost of 17.5 % on Bequia only applies to the actual land.

Building your own home takes a considerable amount of time as it’s important to research architects and contractors. You will also need to factor in architect planning and construction timescales. You have lots of options to really personalise your home, but each of these decisions takes time.

In terms of contractors, there are a lot based in Bequia and naturally some are better than others. They need to be researched thoroughly and their quotation read in thorough detail to ensure they have included everything you agreed. You will find that some get so involved with the house design that they overlook additional costly items such as entrance gates and drive, fencing the boundary, landscaping and project management fees. This of course would result in extensive costs at the end for you.

It’s also important to note that there are architects here that have all the local knowledge required to design a villa. It is not wise to employ an architect from the USA or Europe as they are not aware of the real factors need to cater for Caribbean living ie. outside lifestyle, yearly weather conditions, the necessity for shaded areas, water tank constructions and hurricane proof designs.

You can become non-Domicile here but you need to ask an accountant for the latest laws. However, once you are a home owner you can apply for permanent residency.

We have a stunning property, ‘Iguana House’, ready for you to move into here in Rocky Bay Bequia If you would like to create the home of your dreams and design it yourself then no problem – we also have plots of land available too! We are here to help and guide as much as you wish throughout the process.

Iguana Rock: Home for Sale

A sensational four-bedroom property with infinity pool for sale on the perfect Caribbean island.

The breath-taking views of Mustique and The Grenadines, together with spacious rooms, a sun-kissed climate and anoutdoor style of living gives ‘Iguana Rock’ a feel good factor from the moment you arrive at the property. Designed in a ‘Modern Caribbean Style’, the solid mahogany doors slide neatly into pockets allowing the lounge, kitchen and dining area to open seamlessly onto a large veranda, creating a fully integrated living space. The louvre shutters, tall stylish windows and high gabled roof reflects the Caribbean character of this beautiful island.

The kitchen, designed and handcrafted by luxury bespoke furniture makers in England, Chamber Furniture, offers the latest in style and design. It features a stunning marble topped 14ft island unit and Miele appliances including the latest induction hob and steam oven. Four spacious bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, ceiling fans, air conditioning and built-in cupboards, makes the property ideal for family living or the perfect rental appeal. One of the bedrooms being self-contained, could alternatively be live-in accommodation for a nanny, chef or maid, or offer use as a media room, office or games room.

The dreamy infinity edge pool is sized at 31ft x 11ft and has the latest diatomaceous filter system, requiring minimum maintenance. This newly built 3,880 sq. ft. south facing house is situated in a large, secluded and quiet plot of 56,675 sq. ft. It is protected from the north-east winds in the winter months, whilst enjoying the light East/South winds in the summer months, making it cool year-round. Mount Pleasant offers the ‘best of both worlds’, only 1.7 miles from Port Elizabeth, with its numerous bars and restaurants to suit every taste, and just a short walk away from the delightful unspoiled sandy beach of Ravine Bay.

This spectacular property for sale has been designed and built by John Nicholson.  If you would prefer a blank canvas to design your very own Caribbean retreat, Rocky Bay Bequia have several other plots of land for sale on the island. With his first-hand experience and depth of knowledge of Rocky Bay and Bequia, John Nicolson is available to act as a consultant if required. With advise on every aspect, from purchasing the land through to local planning controls and procedures, architectural design and appointing and working with a construction company, Rocky Bay Bequia can help make building your dream home into a stress free reality.

Prices are available on application. If you would like to make an enquiry, please visit our contact page: www.bequialandforsale.com/contact-us

Flavours of Bequia

Most visitors to the island are pleasantly surprised at how great and varied the food is in Bequia! Almost any food you could dream of is available here, as well as a vast array of unusual and unique tastes and textures that are sure to blow your taste buds away!

Local dishes, as I’m sure you can imagine are fresh, healthy and utterly delicious. Naturally, local fruits and vegetables are grown on the island and, although they are somewhat more expensive than elsewhere, the tastes are exquisite and certainly worth the extra cost. The fish, poultry and red meat is equally fresh and tasty. Local free range beef, pork & chicken are readily available and each day the local fisherman sell their catch on a small stall in the harbour. A wonderfully diverse selection of shell fish is of course available from Lobsters to Conch, both equally fabulous and as popular with the locals and travellers alike. Other local delicacies include Rotis, a traditional West Indian pasty of curried chicken and potato in a wrap that goes splendidly with some local mango chutney.

Another popular destination for food is ‘Dorris’s Fresh Food’, a delicatessen and small super market. The delightful owner is of Indian decent and sells many herbs and spices, imported salami, hams, smoked salmon and much more. You name it and she probably has it! She supplies food and a fantastic range of the finest wines to Mustique and mega yachts across the island.

Foods popular in the UK, USA and other countries are offered on the island, as well as products found in both Waitrose and Tesco. Food like Angus steak, NZ green lip mussels, and the most succulent prawns are all easy to come by. Although some foods, such as mushrooms and garlic are not grown on the island and therefore imported, there truly is an excellent choice of food. What is more, dishes are generally far healthier than that in the UK and USA due to it being so fresh and grown naturally without so many pesticides.

Thinking Inside the Box – What to take & what to buy locally

When relocating either permanently or just the essentials for a second home to Bequia here are a few tips and advice on the practicalities:

Shipping is easy. Any size box or package can be sent to Geest in Southampton in the UK. Geest load whatever you need into containers and ship directly to St Vincent.

If the quantity of items you want to take is large enough to fill a container, then Geest will deliver one to a UK address for you (10, 20 or 40 ft.). They will then wait up to 4 hours for the container to be filled and then drive it to Southampton for you.

Ships generally leave fortnightly and take 2 weeks to arrive.

Once at St. Vincent, a local shipping agent is needed to arrange customs clearance.

After payment, the goods are put onto a ferry and sent to Bequia for collection by the owner.

Import duty varies considerably depending on the goods. Goods are also subject to VAT and 5% customs handling fee. Generally, Shipping and duty is about the same as the cost of the goods. IE £1000 of goods would cost £1000 to ship here.

Vehicles are the exception.

Cars are hard to buy on Bequia and most English people tend to prefer to import a car that they have purchased in the UK.

One thing to consider before you ship your family car or treasured sport car is that Bequai is a very hilly island so the most popular and practical cars to invest in are 4-wheel drive.

There are extra duties applied to cars when buying direct on the island, this tends to make them very expensive.

A car costing £3,000 in the UK will cost around £6,000 in shipping and import duty fees, making the total cost approximately £9,000, still a better investment than buying on the Island.

Furniture on the other hand is not subjected to such duties when buying in Bequia or St. Vincent. Generally though, the furniture isn’t of good quality, style or price, so again shipping your own is well worth considering.

Let’s Talk Taxes

Talking taxes isn’t likely to be top of your list when thinking about something as exciting as buying a new home in a different country, however taking into consideration financial and practical elements such as taxes is vital for your new adventure to run smoothly.

Our aim here is to just give you a brief idea on what to expect.

Firstly, any person wishing to purchase land or a house on Bequia must apply for an Alien Land Holder’s Licence from the Caribbean government. This licence is issued specifically for each individual property or plot of land purchased. It’s advisable to use a lawyer in-country who will be well versed on overseeing the application process. The lawyers’ fees are based on a percentage of this Licence fee. In addition to the application form for the license the government will require:

  • Full name(s)
  • Date(s) of birth
  • Place(s) of birth
  • Passport Number(s)
  • Date & Place of issue of passport
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Passport size photograph
  • Bankers reference (this is purely as a personal reference; you will not have to disclose the amount of money in your account).
  • Police certificate that applicant has no criminal record
  • Copy of registered Survey Plan of the parcel of land and any property thereon to be purchased
  • The purchase price of the property

When a property or piece of land is sold in Bequia, there is a government tax of 10% to pay, this amount is divided equally between the purchaser and the buyer (5% each). The approximate total cost for the licence and tax is about 17% of the purchase price.

If a purchaser wishes to become a resident of St Vincent as well as Bequia, they can apply at the same time at additional cost.

For more information on this subject and other similar, please visit http://www.gov.vc/

 

 

Bequia Travel Guide – Planning your Caribbean Trip

A Bequia Travel Guide

Much of Bequia’s allure lies in it being one of the lesser known Caribbean islands. Bequia is beyond being a tourist favourite, instead it offers an authentic charm with beaches completely clear of footprints. Naturally, the route to this largely undiscovered island requires a little planning as there are no direct flights. This Bequia Travel Guide aims to cover all you need to know regarding the simplest routes to and from Bequia.

Bequia Travel Guide

Most visitors from outside of the Caribbean region, including the USA, will approach Bequia via direct, international flights into Barbados. Fortunately, the majority of international arrivals into Barbados are in the early afternoon, which allows for convenient onward connections to Bequia. Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport in Bequia is served by the following major airlines:

From the USA & Canada
American Airlines
US Air (via Philadelphia)
Air Canada
Air Jamaica
From the UK
British Airways
Virgin
– Various UK charter airlines

Alternative approaches to Barbados are made from France and Germany and from the USA via San Juan. From France you would use Air France or a French charter flight to Martinique and vice versa, then a regional airline will take you to St. Vincent followed by a ferry trip to Bequia itself. Air connections to St. Vincent from Martinique are invariably not direct, and may involve some long stops in both St. Lucia and Barbados and/or overnight stays to get to Bequia. From Germany you should take Condor (charter) flights from Frankfurt to St. Lucia, which run on Fridays only. An overnight stay in St. Lucia is then followed by regional airline flights to St. Vincent, followed by a ferry to Bequia. Alternatively, those travelling from France and Germany can first go to London for a direct flight to Barbados.

Once in Barbados, visitors can choose either to fly to Bequia direct, a journey taking just under an hour. Alternatively, you can fly to St. Vincent then take a taxi to the Grenadines Wharf and catch the ferry to Bequia taking approximately an hour and a half. (Taxi approx.: EC$80 one way, ferry approx.: EC$25 one way/ EC$45 return).

The following local airlines fly direct to Bequia from Barbados:

SVG Air: SGV Air offers daily scheduled flights from Barbados to Bequia, these are designed to connect with incoming international flights. Flying time is approximately 55 minutes, reaching Bequia in the late afternoon. For more information and to book reservations please visit www.svgair.com or email: res@svgair.com tel: (784) 457 5124 (St. Vincent Office)

Bequia Airport: daily scheduled flights are in service to and from Barbados. Private charters and scheduled flights to and from Grenada (SVG Air), Union Island, Canouan and St. Vincent are also available – contact the above local airlines for details.

On arrival at Bequia Airport, visitors will be expected to present a completed Immigration Form provided by your incoming airline. Visitors must also be able to show a return ticket out of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. The majority of hotels/villas will arrange for their guests to be collected by taxi from the airport, do check for specific information on transfers upon booking your accommodation. Otherwise, there will be taxis readily available to meet each incoming flight who are happy to take you safely to your hotel, apartment, guest house or villa.

When departing St. Vincent & the Grenadines, each passenger will be charged a mandatory EC$100 (about US$40) for National Departure Tax. This tax will already be included in the ticket price for LIAT and other major airlines departing from AIA (Argyle International Airport), but must be paid on departure by persons travelling on SVG Air/GAA/Mustique Airways out of AIA, Bequia or any other Grenadine island airports.

For those journeying to Bequia via St. Vincent, the following regional airlines fly direct to St. Vincent’s Argyle International Airport from Barbados, as well as from other hubs such asSt. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad:

Liat – St Vincent: Within select Local Markets Call Toll Free at: 1-888-844-LIAT (5428). In U.S.V.I. and Puerto Rico call 866-549-5428. From Antigua call 480-5582. All others 1-268-480-5601/2 (Call Center Antigua W.I) reservations@liatairline.com | www.liatairline.com Tel: (784) 784 4571821  / (784) 458 4841

If visitors plan on catching a ferry to Bequia from St. Vincent, they will take a taxi to the ‘Ferry Dock’, officially known as the Grenadines Wharf, in Kingstown to catch the ferry to the island. (If your schedule is tight, tell your taxi driver!) Once at the ferry dock, you must pass through the Grenadines Wharf terminal and purchase your ferry ticket on board. The ferries run frequently on weekdays but are not as regular at the weekends. Schedules can also be subject to seasonal change, so it is sensible to check with the ferry companies or the Bequia Tourism Association before planning your journey. In the low season, the last weekday ferry to Bequia (Bequia Express) leaves St. Vincent at 6pm. The 5.30pm (Admiral) ferry to Bequia only runs on Saturdays and Sundays. Please call the ferry companies for their up-to-date ferry schedule. Phone contact: Admiralty Transport 784 458 3348 and Bequia Express 784 457 3539, or check online.

Bequia Travel Guide. Having made the journey for many years John Nicholson is happy to offer guidance on the best way to plan your trip. To discuss your own land or property purchase please telephone: +1 784 532 9224 or email john.nicholson@rockybaybequia.com