Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Usually when we think of World Heritage sites, we picture proud castles, surrounded by moats…crumbling ruins on lonely cliff tops…or well-preserved colonial cities. But there’s much more to World Heritage sites. Parks, nature reserves, forest and lakes make the grade, too. And they’re a huge asset to property buyers.
If you buy a second home close to a natural World Heritage site, you have an amenity on your doorstep. That makes it desirable. You’ll want to spend time there. So will renters and future buyers, if you decide to re-sell.
Normally locations close to protected sites come with tight planning laws. They usually restrict high-density or high-rise development. That places land and property in the area at a premium.
Finally, if it’s a very large protected site, it could restrict the amount of developable land in the area. That makes property more scarce…even more desirable…and more valuable.
Here are three communities close to natural World Heritage sites that merit a closer look.
Belize: World Heritage Site, Belize Barrier Reef
Belize’s barrier reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere
Belize’s Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. At world level, it’s second in size only to Australia’s barrier reef. Belize’s barrier reef includes offshore atolls, hundreds of sandy cays, coastal lagoons and mangrove forests.
The reef attracts divers and snorkelers from across the planet. They can swim with more than 500 species of fish, see 65 different corals, and endangered manatees, goliath groupers and marine turtles.
The reef runs from Mexico, to the north of Belize, almost to the border with Guatemala to the south. It covers the Bay of Chetumal, the location of our real estate pick.
Orchid Bay, set on the shores of Chetumal Bay, is an established community. It’s one of the few in this area. It boasts 1.5 miles of coastline, and 115 acres of pristine rainforest. The tranquil turquoise bay is perfect for swimming, sailing, diving, and snorkeling. Or you can soak up the sun on the beach…or kick back and relax in the on-site restaurant and bar.
The first residents moved into Orchid Bay this year, and the community’s really taking shape. It’s a fun place to spend time.
Yet you can buy a lot from only $44,000. Build costs run around $100 per square foot…or up to $125 for high-quality finishes. The team at Orchid Bay will build you a 998 square foot home for $114,000. That’s an affordable $158,000 for your home and lot.
Mexico: World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an
Los Arboles (left) is minutes from the Sian Ka’an biosphere
This World Heritage site takes some beating. It’s stunningly beautiful, with a mix of postcard-perfect beaches, sand dunes, wetlands, and forest. You can catch a glimpse of rare jaguars, tapirs, manatees, anteaters, deer and turtles. You can explore Mayan ruins, and see the remains of an ancient artificial canal. It’s a natural wonderland.
There’s a limited amount of developable land here. The Caribbean Sea creates a barrier on one side. And the biosphere contains almost 2.5 million acres of land. With strict rules on height and density, in a place that’s already chic and desirable, this location is a property investor’s dream.
Just twelve minutes from the breath-taking coral beaches, and five minutes from the biosphere, you’ll find Los Arboles Tulum. This private community is in tune with its setting.
It’s preserving 95% of its 1200 acres of forest and wildlife. Sunlight and sea breezes will power homes. Roads curve around trees. Stone recycled from the property clads houses and creates walls and curbs. Natural caves become little amphitheaters…
Los Arboles offers lot and home packages.The houses blend with the five acres of forest garden surrounding them. Home sizes run from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet. Prices for the smallest homes start at $203,000. That includes your five-acre lot.
Uruguay: Man & the Biosphere Site, Bañados del Este
La Serena Golf is a kilometer from Laguna de Rocha
It’s not a UNESCO World Heritage site, but Bañados del Este (Eastern Wetlands) makes the cut as a UNESCO Man & the Biosphere site. Rich in wildlife, this reserve covers more than 494,000 acres. It includes pine forests, rare palms, lakes and grasslands.
Laguna de Rocha forms part of the biosphere. It’s a huge lake, almost 18,000 acres in size. Here, you’ll see otters, foxes, capybaras, and all kinds of birds. Giant sand dunes and a wide white-sand beach separate the lake from the ocean. The beaches are beautiful (the finest in Uruguay) and gloriously free of crowds. The little beach towns will seduce you with their low-key tranquil lifestyle.
The Rocha coastline is undeveloped right now. But plans for the area include high-end communities to cater to the trendy set that comes here on vacation.
Travel a kilometer from Laguna de Rocha and you’ll find La Serena Golf.
This relaxed country community offers lots from a half-acre to three-quarters of an acre in size. It’s 400 meters from a gorgeous beach. Some lots boast sea views. The community’s got seven lakes of its own. Amenities will include a nine-hole golf course, a putting green and tennis courts.
Lots in La Serena start from $31,900 for half an acre. And $69,300 buys you a three-quarter acre lot with panoramic ocean views.