Money

The average Manhattan apartment costs $2 million—here are 5 private islands you can buy for less

Little Harvest Caye, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Little Harvest Caye, courtesy of Private Islands Online

New York is the third most expensive city in the world and the most expensive in all of North America.

The median rent in Manhattan is over $3,000 a month, and it's even pricier to buy: According to real estate brokers Douglas Elliman, the average Manhattan apartment now costs over $2 million, or almost $2,000 per square foot.

There are entire islands you could buy for a third of the price.

Here are several spectacular options.

Motu Pakirikiri, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Motu Pakirikiri, courtesy of Private Islands Online

1. Motu Pakirikiri, French Polynesia

Searching for the perfect place to build your "Swiss Family Robinson"-inspired dream house? You'd be hard-pressed to do better than this uninhabited island near the Tahiti International Airport. Rest under the palm trees, swim with the dolphins and feel at one with nature.

Cost: $373,000, or 18 percent of the average Manhattan apartment

Isla Paloma, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Isla Paloma, courtesy of Private Islands Online

2. Isla Paloma, Panama

This "lovingly landscaped" tropical Central American island offers a renovated two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, boat house and workshop, and is close to both Costa Rica and a village that provides groceries and services in exchange for American dollars. Most merchants speak Spanish but there is also a substantial Anglo expat community.

The real estate listing site Private Islands Online calls the property "absolutely turn-key, fully self-powered with more than enough energy and water," and points out that its average annual temperature of 80 degrees makes it an attractive place to either rent or live year-round.

Cost: $380,000, or 18 percent of the average Manhattan apartment

Namaste Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Namaste Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online

3. Namaste Island, Michigan

You don't have to be a yogi to appreciate the tranquility of this serene, densely wooded property near Traverse City and the Interlochen School of Arts. The log cabin has a rustic feel but has also been recently renovated. Likewise, with its wild blueberry bushes and deep forests, the 7.5 acre island feels wild and yet is only 900 feet from the mainland.

Cost: $650,000, or 31 percent of the average Manhattan apartment

Bachelor Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Bachelor Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online

4. Bachelor Island, North Carolina

True to its name, the accommodations on Bachelor Island feel pretty spare, but the location in Core Sound and the four acres of untouched sandy beaches and salt marches, perfect for hunting, fishing and boating, more than make up for the lack of attention paid to interior design.

There are three cabins to renovate according to your standards, or, alternatively, you could drop off 15 unmarried men and sell the rights for a reality show about whether or not they descend into a 21st-century version of "The Lord of the Flies."

Cost: $650,000, or 31 percent of the average Manhattan apartment

Cordwood Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Cordwood Island, courtesy of Private Islands Online

5. Cordwood Island, Ontario

This preppy paradise in the St. Lawrence River is a well-maintained estate which, with its Adirondack chairs and swimming-friendly amenities, feels like a summer camp — but the fireplace and hot tub make it welcoming almost year-round. Main cottage, guesthouse and boathouse alike are comfortably furnished.

Cost: $685,000, or 33 percent of the average Manhattan apartment

BONUS LISTING:

Little Harvest Caye, courtesy of Private Islands Online
Little Harvest Caye, courtesy of Private Islands Online

Little Harvest Caye, Belize

The array of porch swings, the outdoor pool bisected by the volleyball net and the general resort vibe of Little Harvest Caye together create the impression that something about this island off the coast of Belize is too good to be true — and, indeed, the purchase price only buys you "an ownership stake" in the well-maintained, beautifully landscaped property.

Still, do you really need an entire island to yourself? Maybe it's enough to have the access without taking on the onerous and costly responsibilities.

Cost of an ownership stake: $289,000, or 14 percent of the average Manhattan apartment