From Turks and Caicos to Puerto Rico, New Yorkers Are Migrating to the Caribbean
Even in the midst of a pandemic, villa sales in the second quarter in the Turks and Caicos Islands actually eclipsed the numbers from the same period in 2019.
A strong part of that, Regency Christie’s International Real Estate senior broker Robert Greenwood told Caribbean Journal Invest, came from an increasingly important demographic in the Caribbean real estate market: New Yorkers.
More and more, regional brokers say, New Yorkers are looking to leave crowded urban living and migrate to the Caribbean.
In Turks and Caicos, for example, Greenwood told Caribbean Journal Invest that about 80 percent of all of his inquiries and buyers were New Yorkers.
“We’re getting calls, we’re getting inquiries, we’re getting buyers,” he said. “New York is a huge market for us. Here’s the reality — COVID is based on human transmission. New York is built in a way, be it subways, Grand Central or any of their activities, where everyone’s on top of each other.”
In TCI, for example, the interest is everywhere from Parrot Cay (where New York’s Donna Karan is a resident) to villas to condos, from high value to lower value, he said.
And it’s happening across the Caribbean.
“It’s a definite trend we’re seeing in The Bahamas,” said Gavin Christie, managing partner at Nassau-based CA Christie Real Estate. “The pandemic has shown New Yorkers that they can still function and work effectively from home, and created a ‘work-cation’ mindset that is currently trending among buyers.”
Christie told CJI his recent New York-based clients were looking at both Paradise Island and at private-island living off the coast of Eleuthera.
“They want to get away from the crowds, traffic, public transportation and retreat to a safe, secluded location that still has access to everyday amenities like the Bahamas,” he said.
Oriana Juvelier, vice president and broker at Puerto Rico Sotheby’s International Realty based in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood, said “it’s been overwhelmingly busy from New York.”
Much of that interest has been centered on the luxe Dorado Beach community, she said.
“I think it’s the pandemic in conjunction with the election year,” she said. “It’s the city dwellers wanting beach and ocean and space.”
Brokers say it represents a shift in thinking for buyers that typically would have sought sanctuary closer to home in places like Connecticut or The Hamptons.
And while for some, buying in the region is also a way of diversifying their investments in tax-neutral or otherwise more favorable jurisdictions, others are making a cleaner, more permanent break.
“I’m working with a couple right now that put their home on the market and they are coming down here,” Greenwood said. “They’re getting a shortlist of three properties and they’ll come down and buy and put their kids in school here.”
It’s not just about the current state of things, however, Greenwood said.
“They want a place to ride out whatever’s next.”