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Buying - Bonaire

Buying a holiday let?

It looks very tempting and many people on Bonaire do it; buy a house and let/rent it (or a portion of it) out. Maybe this is due to the success of booking sites like Airbnb in the last 10 years, but does this make sense on Bonaire?

It looks very promising to buy a house or apartment and rent it out until it’s your time to come over full time or, and that happens more often, until you have your 3 or 6 months stay on the island yourself. The good news is that rental income on the island is tax free, the only tax you pay is the tourist tax that you have to charge your guests.

There are some hidden downsides though; does the real estate you have in mind have a Home Owner Association? If so who’s in control, what are the costs of that and what do you get in return? Having a flourish garden and pool onsite is fantastic though somebody has to pay for the maintenance, cleaning and water. On some small resorts on Bonaire the yearly home owner contribution went up from $3000 to over $8000 (per house) in the last years and paying this is not optional, it’s part of the deal when you buy the house. Important is to understand what’s in there and what not? For example the monthly cost of electricity and water, as saving/economical as you yourself might be, most people on holiday are not. Some of your guests will arrive on Saturday, switch the AC on (maximum capacity), leave the windows open, and only switch it back off 2 minutes before their departure a week later. When you dive or snorkel you might shower 4-5 times a day, why not? What the cost of that will be? Well depends but easily hundreds of dollars a month. Again, is this included in the Home Owners Association costs?

The salt, moist and acid sand will shorten the lifespan on all your household effects, electronics, fridge, AC’s and just anything will need earlier replacement. Something you have to budget in your holiday let price. Who does the replacement? You might need to calculate a caretaker in your budget too.

So before you get over exited on the dream of some beautiful real estate with a great (promised) annual return on rental income, do your due diligence, ask the right questions, double check the answers, then do the math again. Some downsides will probably be hidden and need to be unveiled by you yourself.

But if it then adds up, fantastic, great news, this property might have your name on it! Come and live the dream on beautiful Bonaire, it’s fantastic!