The Seychelles Islands consists of a cluster or archipelago of 115-islands off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.
Long-time Destination for International Tourists and High-End Investors
The visuals of the Seychelles islands look like most peoples’ visions of paradise – white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
With a total population of approximately 99,000 people living among this 115-island archipelago, specific island populations vary – some of the islands have 100 residents. Locals and international tourists alike fly in and out of the archipelago via the Seychelles International Airport on Mahe, near the capital city of Victoria. Intra-island travel is done by boat or plane.
The Republic of Seychelles declared independence from Great Britain in 1976.
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Buying Process Both Simple and Complex
Buying a home in the Seychelles is both simple and complex. Simple because the islands, all 115 of them, are stunningly beautiful. (Who wouldn’t want a place of their own there?) Some of the islands, particularly the island of Desrouches near Mahe, have multiple world-class dive sites and conservation sanctuaries for fish, birds, tortoises and/or island animals that surround white-sand beaches.
Complex because the government imposed a moratorium on “…issuing permission (known as sanctions) to nonresidents for the purchase of land for residential use…(and added) buying restrictions to certain areas only.” This moratorium was put into place to favor Seychelles citizens becoming homeowners.
Prior to this moratorium, foreign buyers represented up to 25% of sales; now foreign buyers represent just 5% of all residential sales.
Prices typically start at $400,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, $550,000 for a two-bedroom and $700,000 for a three bedroom. Houses, known as “mansions,” start at $900,000 and villas start at $2.95M (marina, clubhouse with gym/pools/tennis court and secluded beaches.)
Foreigners can also buy in top-tier developments on Mahe such as Royal Palm Residences or Westview where prices range from $5-$15M for a villa.
Houses outside gated resorts are “for domestic buyers” only unless the foreign buyer sets up a Seychelles company and buys a property through that entity.
For leasehold properties, the seller owns the lease while the buyer “pays upfront to lease the land and property for X years,” according to Robert Green, founder of the London-based international brokerage Sphere Estates.
Home prices tend to increase +10% y/y.
Things to Know About Buying in the Seychelles
The Immovable Property (Transfer Restriction) Act requires that a foreign buyer and their family must use their Seychelles home as residential property only. Commercial/industrial properties are not flat-out sold to foreigners…the government only grants leases to foreigners.
The government has the sole approval power regarding any property sale. Foreigners must fill out a Sanction to Purchase form, available only from the Ministry of Land Use and Habitat. Foreigners wanting to buy a home in the Seychelles must also (as in most countries) provide personal documents such as a passport, proof of residency, clean/clear criminal record and proof of funds.
When/if granted permission to buy, a notary creates the purchase agreement that both the buyer and seller sign. An assessor calculates the stamp duty (transfer tax that is anywhere from 11%-16% for foreign buyers) and then, if all goes well, the Registrar approves it.
Property owning foreigners can purchase residency for 5 years. If the primary residence has a price tag of +$2M, foreign homeowners can apply for permanent residency. After living in the Seychelles for 10 years regardless of the property price, residency is expanded to all rights except voting rights. After living in the Seychelles for twelve years, homeowners can apply for full citizenship with voting rights.
Know upfront that the Seychelles is outside the hurricane belt. Chances are slim that you’d lose your home to a natural climate disaster.
Most citizens live on the three largest islands: Mahe, Prasin, and La Digue. These islands are more developed and have more businesses, recreation and transportation options. Living in a more populated area might not give you the peace and quiet of a less populated island but you’ll have more access to what you need.
Thanks to Retiropedia and The New York Times.