Peter Whitehead is an experienced broker with Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty in the Bahamas. The area he specializes in is Exuma, “The Out Islands of the Bahamas,” past Nassau on the way to Turks and Caicos. The job was a natural fit for him, since he was raised in the beautiful Bahamas and his best friend’s father owned the firm.
The month of April is “lovely,” Peter says. It’s nice year-round with just one or two “sweater days” a year and swimming without a wetsuit, but the winter and spring seasons are particularly dry and enjoyable with temperatures in the low 80s. Exuma is a “place where you are always in and out of the water,” where the waters are crystal clear and gentle.
One of the most exciting projects is Foster Hill – eleven high-end houses and a marina “designed to bring out the best of Exuma.” It’s very much a development for people who want to walk out the door and onto their boat without hassle. The homes sit on a beautiful beach area and landscaped grounds known as Moriah Harbor National Park, which is arguably “one of the prettiest parks in the Bahamas,” if not the world. “Really in some of these houses you feel like you’re on the back of a yacht inside a sheltered area,” Peter adds.
The Bahamas is a magical place that lots of visiting Midwesterners want to hang onto in some way – if not to live permanently, then at least to visit on a regular schedule with a timeshare, resort, or condo type investment. Compared to some of the other islands, Exuma has “just the right amount of infrastructure that it’s easy to get to” – with direct connections from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Toronto, says Peter, although there are not too many people and there is “more nature than city.” For Kentucky residents, Exuma is a natural fit because it’s “horse country” and for people who like the outdoors.
Why not wake up in the morning and be in the Bahamas by lunch? “It feels more like a drive to a cottage rather than a vacation to Tahiti, because it’s really that close,” Peter explains. The flight from Louisville to Atlanta is less than an hour, so it’s a tempting trip. Compared to other Bahamas islands, Exuma is easier to get to – a five-minute speed boat ride from Georgetown, versus the other islands you would need to first go through Nassau to reach.
Another attractive feature about the Bahamas is that it’s an organized, independent country under English rule, which means “we have laws, we English, we deal with the American dollar, and we’re very, very stable,” says Peter.
So, just what does $1 million buy in Exuma, luxury buyers may wonder? You could have a 3-4 bedroom house right on the water, an older home on the beach. In fact, you may even find a good older beach home in the $700-900K range. For $1.3-1.5 million, you could have a newer home on the beach.
In any given year, 13 to 20 properties come up in that price range, with 4-5 of them selling. It’s not a rapid turnover market necessarily, but it’s just one small niche in a much larger luxury market. In the North, for example, there are many houses in the multimillion dollar ranges, with listings of $20-30 million. Yet, despite the lower price ranges, the relatively “quiet” Exumas is still a haven for stars like Faith Hill, Beyonce, and Johnny Depp.
Banking is a huge industry in the Bahamas, along with hospitality and construction. “People live very well here,” Peter assures investors. “There’s no begging, that doesn’t exist. There’s generally a great standard of wealth. People just live well. You never see any dire circumstances or poverty running around.”
In the Bahamas, the impression of Louisville is that it attracts “a very caliber people.” As Peter puts it: “They’re well behaved, they treat each other right. They’re respectful and they’re not too city. They have a good southern respect and decency to them.” He’s never been to our backyard, but he says our developers have a reputation for “knowing how to create and support beautiful environments.”
Peter’s final sales pitch is that “The Exumas is such a gem compared to anything I’ve ever seen.” It’s a truly, “unique” and “beautiful experience,” from the people, down to the environment.