Real Estate
May 1, 2010

Buying vacation property abroad

By: Lauren McPhillips

Buying vacation property abroad Author: Style At Home

Real Estate
May 1, 2010

Buying vacation property abroad

By: Lauren McPhillips
Summers in Canada are associated with cottage life and living by the water -- it almost seems as though once we pay off one house, it's natural to invest in a lakeside property as well. But what happens when summer turns to winter? Few of us make the trek to our cottage homes, whether it's because of unplowed roads or non-winterized houses. While many of us do a few jaunts to sunny destinations throughout the snowy months, a growing number of Canadians are actually buying second properties abroad.

Chances are you haven't heard of Serenity Point -- that is, unless, you're familiar with the latest real estate development news circulating the Bahamas region. Here's the gist: in 1962, Canadian real estate investor Alexis Nihon travelled to the Bahamian island of Abaco and fell in love with it, purchasing large chunks of land. One section of land included a beach, several miles long, and has been virtually untapped ... until now. Alexis Nihon II, president of Anco Lands Ltd., and his son Alexis Nihon III are developing Serenity Point, a 40-acre gated community on Schooner Bay Beach.

The planned community is nothing short of fabulous -- buying a property here would make anyone feel like they are on an eternal vacation. So whether you're buying the land for a winter escape or as a retirement property, Serenity Point is a place of relaxation and island-living -- a nice departure from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Read on to get the inside scoop on Serenity Point, a case study for the best-of-the-best new developments in real estate properties in the lands of sun and sand.


Buying a home these days is all about customizing -- when you buy new, you choose all the upgrades, and when you buy resale, chances are you'll renovate to suit your style. Why should your vacation home be any different?

One of the great things about the homes at Serenity Point is that they are custom designed to your liking. The developers have combined forces with Chancey Design Partnership to allow buyers to design their dream home on the beach. Whether you have a budget or want all the luxuries they have to offer, the designers create a space that works for your lifestyle.

Although the developers aim to please the homeowners, they also want to respect the land they're building on and create a community that reflects the style of Abaco. For example, the designers have a list of suggested exterior paint colours that are used throughout the island and also promote the planting of greenery that is native to the area.

Keep in mind though, when buying a home abroad, you'll want all the same amenties as home, so make sure these are just as important as the design of the home. Many islands have less than favourable amenities and you'll want to research things like water treatment, internet access, air conditioning, etc. Serenity Point offers all of the necessities you would be used to at home, and also a plethora of luxuries -- personal chefs, bone fishing, pre-arrival shopping service, private golf lessons, and a maid/butler service to name a few. With amenities like that, who wouldn't want to opt for a beach house over a cottage?

A design example by Chancey Design, the company that works with Serenity Point developers to create one-of-a-kind homes in Abaco.

An artist's rendering of the proposed design of the beach house at Serenity Point.

Artist's rendering of a custom kitchen at Serenity Point.


Although just the mere thought of spending your winters in a vacation home on the beach may have you forking over your cash, there are a few things to consider when choosing a spot to settle.

1 Location, location, location.
The biggest decision is where to settle -- do you want somewhere off the beaten path, or a place that's easily accessible? The island of Abaco is only a 50 minute flight from the coast of Florida, making it a quick escape.

2 Research amenities. Apart from things like home utilities and internet access, it's important to look at what parts of your day to day activities are available near your vacation home of choice. When I got to Abaco, I was amazed when I drove by three Canadian banks on the way to my hotel. Also look out for hospitals, gas stations, markets, schools, etc.

3 Understand the culture. Like going on vacation anywhere, when you buy property abroad you'll want to understand the culture that you're settling into. For example, Abaco is an island of people that strongly respects their natural resources, a factor that the Serenity Point developers have taken into consideration through working around vegetation and natural sand dunes when building. Make sure that you can easily assimilate into the culture of your new destination rather than disrupting it.

4 Work within your budget. The community being built at Serenity Point may be out of your reach financially, but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy the same beach. Next door is Schooner Bay, a huge development of homes, stores and cafes, an area which residents of Serenity Point will have access to. The homes at Schooner Bay start in the mid $200,000's USD, an entirely affordable alternative to the more luxe properties at Serenity Point.

5 Maintenance.
Whether you're buying as a vacation property for your family or a retirement home-away-from-home, your place will need year-round maintenance care. Look into whether maintenance is included in condo/community fees or if you will have to hire someone to check-in. The costs of gardening, lawn care, housecleaning and damage control can add up, so make sure you factor these costs into your budget.

For more information on Serenity Point and inquiries on purchasing property, visit


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Buying vacation property abroad