Bootstrap reveals his dream of developing a tiny island in the Fiji archipelago in the comments section here. The Liberal Archipelago seems a good place to continue our conversation. This article makes little sense without the preceding comments under Onar’s article, but I won’t repeat those comments here.

A hundred year lease on a square kilometer along the coast of the main island presumably goes for hundreds of millions. For my money, this lease differs little from a freehold in financial terms. If you haven’t profited from an investment in much less than half the time, you invested very poorly, and the value of the property a hundred years out is highly uncertain. A trust “for the Fiji people” raises a red flag, but in general, ownership is not very important to me. I don’t think much of hereditary wealth, so I don’t much care what happens to my property after I’m dead. I want my children to be safe and reasonably secure, but I have no intention of leaving them financially independent. On the other hand, I don’t want a state as my heir either.

I understand your goal. Solitude is very natural to me, and the dream is very appealing, but I’m not a likely partner. I could contribute $250,000 or more if I could use tax deferred assets, in a self-directed IRA for example; otherwise, I’m limited to $150,000 at this point, and I wouldn’t likely bet the lot on this island. I’m also on the other side of the world and have deep roots here. I love the idea of Fort Galt, but it also seems too far from home at this point. You can always have my two cents worth though.

I’m definitely not ready to retire, but I am close to starting an entrepreneurial, semi-retired stage of my career. I work from home now and can work from almost anywhere with reliable, broadband Internet access; however, to take full advantage of the market for my labor, I also need to travel by air around North America and to a lesser extent in Europe and Asia. I could rough it in Liberland for a while without sacrificing this market, because I happen to work a lot with Serbians in Novi Sad, but a totally undeveloped island near Fiji requires a very different business model, so I must expect a substantial drop in my income. The option is still attractive, romantically, and it doesn’t seem impossible, but it definitely conjures up a lot of cognitive dissonance.

Obviously, the weather is a big question mark. A cyclone could wreak a lot of havoc on the coast of a tiny island, and the odds of experiencing many of them over a hundred years must be high. I’m sure you’ve considered this risk. Sea level rise is another risk, particularly for such a small island with a narrow coast. Practically the entire interior is a mountain, so the transportation infrastructure seems very challenging, and I know next to nothing about these challenges. On such a small island, I suppose roads aren’t necessary. You could reach your neighbors by boat. It’s hard to imagine landing a plane on the island, though unconventional aviation, like a powered paraglider, is conceivable, weather permitting.

A Four Seasons resort doesn’t appeal to me anyway. I’ve visited conventional resorts and eco-resorts in the Caribbean, and I prefer the latter, here for example. I stayed in the Bamboo Tree House. An eco-resort also requires less capital and can grow more organically. It’s not everyone’s idea of luxury, but “luxury” means different things to different people.

Potable water is another good question.

I also like the idea of being 50 km away from civilization, but I’ve never really been so remote from civilization for more than a few weeks, so I can’t separate the romance from the reality. Regardless, value is subjective, so if the island seems like an incredible bargain to you, only because you’re an incredible oddball, so much the better for you.

I’m not sure what an “over-water burm” is, but I can imagine. The sea around the island looks shallow, like if the sea level dropped a meter or two, the island would be twice as large. On the other hand, sea level is definitely rising around the world at this point. I’m not a global warming alarmist, but it’s a fact.

I’m not willing to give up electricity or the net, but an eco-resort avoids bulldozing as much as possible, building infrastructure around the natural environment. In such a small space, you can do a lot with wireless networking, including line of site, point to point connections, and since you’ll need to generate electricity locally anyway, small scale generation may be the best option, so you may not need a power distribution network either. For the net, satellite seems the only viable option, and upload speeds could be severely limited. This limitation could be deal breaker for many potential buyers.

I suppose catamarans for hire are plentiful along the coast of Fiji, so owning one isn’t necessarily the best bet. Have you ever hired one to take you to the island?

Owning the best 3/4 of the island at zero cost (after only a few years) seems incredibly optimistic to me, but I’m not an optimist by nature. If you want to live on a remote island, you’re getting what you pay for, so a quick return wouldn’t be crucial to me. You’re buying an island for you, really, so your customers are other people like you, people with a genuine interest in living remotely, without being too disconnected or roughing it too much. People who can work entirely online are a growing market, and I don’t see that changing. Some of these people share your love of solitude and natural beauty and building things in and around that natural beauty. These people are your market, not conventional tourists, not initially anyway.

I was certified for scuba years ago, but I’ve never lived near the coast, and quarry diving sucks, so I never developed the habit and don’t know much about the market. I was also a skydiver for several years, but a small, remote island seems ill suited to skydiving. On the other hand, if you’re a pilot, you know the territory much better than I. A conventional runway on this island is hard to imagine, and bulldozing the ridge seems a shame. Getting a bulldozer up there seems challenging, and a road down the mountain is also a big challenge.

This dropzone in the mountains has a remarkably small landing area. I’ve jumped there, but for this island, only beach landings seem feasible.

I’m not a pilot, but I love flying and often read about aviation innovations. Are you aware of this thing? It hardly requires a runway, so it could be more eco-friendly (and less costly) than alternatives. It may not be your dream plane though.

Landing on water seems natural for this island and more friendly to the island. Do you know anything about this alternative?

In the market I imagine, the less you alter the island, the more valuable it is. You invest less in fixed infrastructure, so your concern about the lease is also less, but that really is icing on the cake. You aren’t “going cheap” on the infrastructure. For this market, you don’t want to scar the island with fixed infrastructure. You want to develop the means for people to experience its natural state.

I wouldn’t bet entirely on renewables without a backup, but small scale, wind and solar seems the right approach. Batteries are still the weak link in local, renewable generation. A backup generator powered by NG or LP could be a better bet than batteries.

Owning a boat to supply the island regularly, initially with building supplies, makes some sense. A partner with a boat offering this service to other partners also makes sense. If you’re a pilot with a plane, offering rides as a service to partners, as a part of your business model, also makes sense.

There’s a whole market of customers who don’t want full-bore, luxury conveniences. It’s not about going cheap at all. It’s about appealing to this market. Some people spend a lot of money avoiding full-bore, luxury conveniences.