A Singaporean’s Guide to Buying an Island in the Philippines

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Fancy buying your own private tropical paradise? Why not head to our Southeast Asian neighbour, the Philippines, and purchase one of its 7,641 beautiful islands? With its crystal clear waters and thousands of kilometers of coastlines and beaches, the country surely has an island to suit every taste. What’s more, it has friendly, warm locals as well as incredibly affordable rates for almost everything, including real estate properties.

Indeed, having an island in the Philippines for your personal hideaway is the pinnacle of exclusivity. Sadly, getting one isn’t a walk in the park, by any means, especially for Singaporeans and other foreigners. In the Philippines, foreigners are not allowed buy any land, let alone an entire island since they are deemed as national assets. As of now, buying a piece of land in this Southeast Asian country is exclusive to Filipino citizens.

There are, however, ways to make it happen.

How can Singaporeans get their own dream island in the Philippines?

For investments:

  • Any Singaporean or non-Filipino corporation may lease a whole island (if privately owned) up to 50 years, and then, renew it for another 25 years. However, for some governed and protected areas with special laws, the maximum initial lease is only 25 years, and may be renewed for another 25 years. Good enough for a lifetime, eh?
  • International companies and Singaporeans may create a corporation that is 40% foreign-owned and 60% Filipino-owned, to purchase an island in the Philippines. Then, they may develop properties like beach resorts, hotels, or condominiums, through which they earn income.

Important note: If the island is less than 5 hectares, you cannot, for any reason, develop it for investment and commercial purposes.

For personal use:

  • A Singaporean may choose to own a condominium property on a Philippine island, as foreigners are allowed technically and lawfully to own up to 40%.
  • Marrying a Filipino/Filipina is also a legal alternative for any Singaporean who wants to own an exclusive island in the Philippines. But, remember, the title for the land and property will only be under the name of your Filipino/Filipina spouse. Children may inherit the land or property as well, even if they are not citizens of the Philippines.
  • If you really are serious in settling down and retiring in this country, then becoming a natural citizen of the Philippines may be another good option for you.

How to pick the best Philippine island

1. Find the spot that fits perfectly to your needs

Commercialized and developed areas, such as Boracay, are a good option for Singaporeans looking for income-generating island properties in the Philippines. Famed for its crazy parties and unrivaled tropical setting, Boracay is truly one of the world’s most-sought beach destinations, drawing flocks of tourists on a daily basis. In other words, the island offers irresistible and lucrative investment opportunities for real estate.

If, however, you’re planning on retiring in this Southeast Asian hub, you should look for more peaceful and less developed areas, such as Palawan’s unspoiled islands and the pristine islets of Bantayan, Cebu.

Related: 5 Amazing Asian Cities That Will Maximize Your Retirement Fund

2. Create a selection of options

Once you’ve picked your ideal location, do some extensive research online. Since the islands in the Philippines are rarely up for grabs, you should look for a niche market for these properties. You can find these listings in classified ads and websites of the real estate agents in Philippines.

Afterwards, send your inquiries to the real estate agents or companies involved. After receiving the details of the property you’re interested in, make sure you review everything thoroughly. When you have a shortlist, prepare questions that the real estate agents might not have covered in the details they have delivered. That way, you’ll get to find out which island property is best suited for you.

Related: 4 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes Often Made by First-Time Home Buyers

3. Acquire the services of a trustworthy real estate broker

Buying an island in the Philippines isn’t as easy as buying a serving of chicken satay in a hawker center. That’s why you need to acquire the services of a professional broker. From communicating with the authorized representatives and owners to doing most of the paperwork, a credible real estate broker will handle almost everything for the purchase.

Just don’t forget to conduct an exhaustive background check on the real estate agent that you are planning to work with. Contact their previous clients to further verify their reputation.

Related: 4 Top Secret Romantic Island Retreats near Singapore

4. Be extra diligent

Although real estate properties in the Philippines are rather affordable, you’re still going to shell out a great deal of money to buy your private tropical paradise. For that reason, it’s essential that you ensure the property’s authenticity before closing a transaction. Here are a few things you need to consider:

  • Determine where the island’s exact boundaries are, so you can properly secure the foreshore lease. Keep in mind that, in the Philippines, shorelines are acknowledged as public domains.
  • Check any special laws or local ordinances that could affect the island or real estate property that you are going to buy, especially if you have plans on developing it to a commercial space.
  • To verify the land title’s authenticity, reach out to the local Registry of Deeds.
  • You may make a personal visit to the island or area, once you’ve picked your ideal spot. Viewings are allowed, of course, but you need to pay for all the travel expenses. There are some agents, though, who will reimburse your expenses, when the deal is closed.

Related: 5 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a House

Living on an island in the Philippines definitely has its charms and perks. Not only does it offer you fresh sea breeze and a laid-back feel, but it is also exclusive and far away from the crowds of daily commuters and office workers.

However, as with buying any real estate property in Singapore, it’s imperative that you have everything covered before you sign the cheque and buy the space. Don’t hesitate to seek the advice and help of professionals. And lastly, make sure you check all the information and papers thoroughly, to prevent problems in the future.

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