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This Belize island costs less than the median price of an L.A. home

Belize island
Found 12 miles off the coast, this island spans one-tenth of an acre and has four cabanas, a boat dock and a backup generator.
(7th Heaven Properties)

If L.A. home prices are getting you down, jump ship and head to Belize. This private island 12 miles off the coast just hit the market for $465,000.

For those keeping track, that’s about $220,000 less than the median price of a Los Angeles home, according to Zillow.

Clocking in at just over one-tenth of an acre, the tiny retreat holds a boat dock and four brightly colored cabanas built in 2014. Each boasts a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining area.

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The property is powered mostly by solar energy, and there’s also a backup generator.

It’s located off the coast of Hopkins Village in Stann Creek, a district of about 40,000 people in the southeast region of the country. Close by is the Belize Barrier Reef, a 190-mile section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System popular with scuba divers and snorkelers.

The listing is held by 7th Heaven Properties, a Caribbean brokerage that has 29 islands on the market. Besides the tiny island, the next cheapest is an empty seven-acre property for $750,000.

The brokerage’s priciest by far is a 460-acre island in the Bahamas with white sandy beaches, quaint coves and $10 million worth of infrastructure, including six temporary dwellings and a 1,000-gallon water tank. It’s priced at $75 million.

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It’s not uncommon to find an island on the market for less than half a million. Private Islands Inc. has 61 up for sale, with listings ranging from a one-acre cabin retreat on Wisconsin’s Beaver Dam Lake to a 110-acre island for hunting and fishing on Canada’s Stuart Lake.

For $59,000, the brokerage is advertising an empty six-acre island off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Does the deal seem too good to be true? Perhaps it is. Oceanographer John Englander said the Caribbean getaway will face a host of challenges in the coming years.

“There’s always a risk of flooding, and small, low-lying islands can obviously flood more easily,” said Englander, who wrote a 2012 book titled “High Tide on Main Street” that addresses rising sea levels.

He noted that beyond normal types of flooding such as storms, rainfall, runoff and extreme tides, melting ice caps pair with these factors to create rising sea levels. The rising rate can grow exponentially, he added, meaning that while sea levels won’t rise 6 inches in the next decade, they could swell by 1 to 2 feet by 2050, which would have a huge effect on a tiny island.

For cays around the Caribbean, hurricanes are always a threat. But for a potential buyer, Englander pointed toward an equally scary risk: negative market perception.

Much of real estate’s value is found in its permanence. If a home is less than 8 feet above sea level, its value is already being discounted among some buyer pools, Englander said.

A 2017 study found that homes exposed to sea level rise sold for approximately 7% less than comparable properties that were similar distances from the beach.

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Earlier this month, The Times detailed how coastal communities were spending millions of dollars building seawalls, shipping in sand and debating “managed retreat” to counteract the rising ocean.

“It’s subtle, but it has started,” Englander said. “Whether it’s in Santa Monica or a little island off Belize, it’s happening a lot faster than people think.”


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