Saint Lucia (St Lucia) is one of the Windward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, located between Saint Vincent, Barbados and Martinique. It is a small island with a land area of only 620 sq kms (238 sq miles) and a population of about 175,000.
First colonised by the French, Saint Lucia has a long and complex history, changing hands between the French and the British several times before the British took definitive control in 1814. This mixed history can be seen in the Island culture today with many remnants of both heritages still visible. Saint Lucia became independent in 1979 and this is celebrated every year on February 22nd.
Saint Lucia economy
Tourism is the island’s main economy and this is expected to assume a greater importance as income from bananas, the island’s main produce, is diminishing in line with changing markets and increased global competition. Unfortunately tourism has also taken a hit from the global recession and has suffered a serious decline since 2009. This situation is not expected to last however, and now may be a good time to grab a bargain in Saint Lucia, either as a holiday or as an investment.
- Flights – The majority appear to be operated by BA with prices of around £630 return from London and a flight time of approximately 8 hours 50 minutes;
- Where to invest in Saint Lucia – St Lucia is a varied island with many different areas, so you will need to research which areas you want as part of your process. Gros Islet, Castries, Anse la Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Vieux Fort, Micoud, Forest and Dennery are normally considered buy investors.
Saint Lucia hosts an internationally renowned jazz festival in May of every year and, like most Caribbean islands, is famous for its carnival. In 1999 the Saint Lucian government moved Carnival from Lent to July to avoid competition with nearby Trinidad and Tobago. Other tourist attractions on the island include a drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs, the Botanical Gardens, the majestic Twin Peaks (a world heritage site), the rainforests, and Pigeon Island National Park, which is home to Fort Rodney, an old British military base. Many of Saint Lucia’s tourists visit the island as part of a cruise, spending most of their time in the capital, Castries, although Soufriere, Marigot Bay and Gros Islet are all popular locations to visit.
Non-nationals will require an Alien’s Land Holding Licence to purchase real estate in St Lucia. The process of obtaining this card involves four government departments; the Planning Department, Attorney General’s Office, The Prime Minister’s Office and the Governor General’s Office. This process can take up to two years to complete, however it has been completed in only six weeks before. We understand that a realistic time frame is between four and six months. Note that this method is being replaced with a simpler one as at the time of writing.
There is a non-refundable application fee of EC$1,500 and the cost of the licence starts at EC$5,000 and goes up from there given the size of the allotment involved.
Once you have made an agreement for sale the purchaser will be required to put down a 10% deposit and pay for the purchasers’ costs which will be around 6 – 8 %/ which includes the stamp duty (2%), the Alien Land Holding Licence, the Treasury receipt, legal costs and registration fees. There will usually be other charges made to the purchaser if they are taking out a mortgage.
Property for sale in St Lucia
Most properties in Saint Lucia are at the upper end of the market, as you might expect and of course they are quite nice properties.
- £285,000 will buy you a beautiful 5 bedroom colonial mansion at Praslin on the east coast. The property comes with 5 en-suites and over an acre of manicured tropical gardens. There is a balcony running the full length of the east side of the property, affording spectacular sea views. This sort of property would make an ideal family home or an exciting proposition for a B&B business.
- There are also a few cheaper properties for sale in Saint Lucia. £83,000 can buy you a basic, wooden-built 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a good bit of land, just a few minutes walk from a secluded Caribbean beach.
One final word of warning to the prospective Saint Lucian property investor; Saint Lucia currently lies at the bottom of the table for rental yields on Caribbean islands at only 2.3%. This is not the only consideration and the situation is fluid and prone to change, but bear it in mind when doing your sums.