A quick look at… Vanuatu

Vanuatu comprises some 80 separate islands, so it’s a complicated country to look at. As with all multi-island nations, one needs to consider the micro-markets in great detail before investing or becoming otherwise involved in a certain area.

Vanuatu’s inclusion in our Property Investor Show programme (via Melanesian Waterfront Real Estate ltd) was a beguiling one – and also quite timely, as we were receiving BBC alerts about Prince Charles’ new position as heir apparent of the Commonwealth (as the top job is not a strictly hereditary position, there was some question of who exactly would succeed Queen Elizabeth II – but the Commonwealth has decided that the Prince of Wales will take over from his mother).

So – not a market we expected to consider this week, but an interesting one nonetheless. Vanuatu is still classed as “third world” and, as such is a reasonably high-risk environment – but it is, we are assured, a country poised to take its place on the world stage.

Fast facts about Vanuatu

Languages: Bislama, English, French

GDP: US$787million (2017)

GDP per capita: $2,800

Tourism: Took a big hit after Tropical Cyclone Pam damaged the island of Efate (the biggest tourist destination) but seems to be recovering quickly. Most visitors go to Efate, Santo and Tanna – with relatively few visiting the outer islands. Take a detailed look at the economic impact of tourism in Vanuatu by reading the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2017 report on Vanuatu.

The Real Estate Market in Vanuatu

As I’m writing from the Property Investor show, it’s only suitable that I spend a bit of time on Vanuatu’s property market. Seth Butcher, from Melanesian Waterfront Real Estate Ltd, spoke glowingly of the archipelago during his slot in our “How to Maximise the Profit from Your International Property” seminar and discussion session (download the presentation here).

He told the audience about the tropical climate (reasonably clement for most of the year – good for short-term lets), the expanding tourist pool (see above), and the opportunities for the daring real estate investor in what is, after all, a very new and untrampled market.

With commendable honesty, he did tell us that Vanuatu is not exactly infested with property managers (yet), but that some real estate developers are stepping up and providing the services. We should note that all our recommended checks on property management companies (see our presentation) still apply – possibly apply even more so – if your developer is offering to manage the unit for you.

Prices for residential properties range from around US$200,000 to over US$1million. Rental yields, as always, depend on what you want to do with the place – short-term lets could net you from US$1,000 to US%3,500 a month. (Information from escapeartist.)

The Vanuatu “Golden Visa”

Vanuatu is one of the increasing number of countries to offer a citizenship by investment – a “golden” – visa. Vanuatu’s offering is an attractive one. Invest $210,000 in a local development fund and receive your citizenship (a full citizenship, minus voting and political involvement rights) in around 30-60 days.

There are no restrictions on dual citizenship, no language checks, and if you increase your investment to $240,000 you can extend your new citizenship to your spouse and children.

Further reading:

The CIA World Factbook – Vanuatu

Vanuatu: beyond the resorts (New Zealand Herald)

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