Living the Dream: I Bought an Island With My Friends for Under $10K Each

Photo by Radius Images/Corbis. Design by Erik Mace for Yahoo Travel.

These days you can buy anything online — used furniture, priceless art, and even an island.

Yeah, you read that right.

Tynan (he goes by one name, like Beyoncé) is a blogger who recently purchased an island off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with 10 of his friends.

The best part? They bought it for just under $100,000!

“I always wanted an island,” Tynan told Yahoo Travel. “I just didn’t think it was possible with my budget.”

Starting in high school, Tynan became obsessed with the idea of buying an island. Unfortunately, they were always too far away or far too expensive. But in 2013, a friend directed him toward Canadian islands on the website Private Islands Online. He had never looked at islands in that area, but after an extensive search, he was able to find a few for a reasonable price.


When Tynan saw this island, he knew it was the one. (Photo: Zac and Elliot)

One in particular stood out. It was five acres of untouched land, located less than an hour from the Halifax airport. After looking at just seven photos, Tynan was sold.

Wasting no time, he sent an email to 20 of his friends asking if anyone wanted to buy an island with him. After just 24 hours, seven people responded, and he made an offer without even seeing the island in person.

“It was clearly the best island on the market at that time,” said Tynan. “But after we made the offer, the seller let us camp on the island just to feel it out. We fell in love with it.”

A few more people joined the pool, and by the time they closed in September 2013, the little island had 11 excited new owners.


On their first visit, the new owners looking for a place to pitch their tents. (Photo: Tynan)

But as Tynan and his crew would soon find out, you need more than excitement to make an uninhabited island into a dreamy getaway.

“It’s weird, there is really no blueprint for what to do,” explained Tynan. “When we got there, it was really daunting. The forest was so dense that we couldn’t even explore until we bought clippers.”

Eventually, they were able to clear some of the brush and create trails for easy exploration. And for about a year, different owners would visit the island to camp, chop wood, look for bald eagle nests, and relax around campfires.

Then it was time to start the next phase of development.

About two months ago, the first structure went up on the island. After hiring a few locals from the mainland to build a 30-foot platform, construction started on a yurt. They had to transfer 3,000 pounds of wood over on a tiny boat, but they were able to complete the construction in just 40 hours.

The yurt will function as the main gathering area where people can hang out, stay warm, and cook. This month, Tynan went back to the island to get the yurt ready for the winter.


After two days of work, the yurt is complete! (Photo: Tynan)

“We just put in windows, Christmas lights, small solar lanterns, and a wood stove,” he said. “Last night it got down to 25 degrees, so the timing was perfect.”

He’s also working on constructing some more of the island’s basic necessities.

“I want to build an outhouse this trip. Until now, we’ve just been going in the woods.”

With so many people involved, there are bound to be some disagreements. The most recent debate happened while trying to name the island. In the end they landed on “Phoenix Island,” because in 2003 it was hit hard by a hurricane and it is now rising from the ashes.

In case you were wondering, “Candyland” was a close second.

But Tynan promises their small government won’t devolve into a Lord of the Flies situation, for one very important reason — social media.

“We use a Facebook group to make decisions,” said Tynan. “We want this to be a long-term thing, so we’ve come up with rules to make sure no one ruins the island.”


Tynan hopes the island will be a place where friends and family can visit. (Photo: Tynan)

While some of the owners are more involved that others, they all hope that one day Phoenix Island will be the ultimate summer camp for friends and family. For the time being, the yurt will function as the perfect gathering place, but in the future, the plan is for everyone to take a little piece of the island and build his or her own cabin or hut.

“I want to built a little house with a lofted bed that I can work from,” says Tynan. “I already have a spot picked out that I really like.”

Other potential future projects include a rock-climbing area, a sauna, and a Japanese teahouse.

Currently, no one lives on the island full-time, including Tynan, who splits his time between Las Vegas and San Francisco.

But just knowing that Phoenix Island is there provides a connection to something real. Visits to the island are long, filled with hard work and hours of creating basic comforts from scratch.

They are building their dream with their bare hands, and the satisfaction that comes from that is everything that Tynan ever dreamed of.

“Those are the moments I look forward to most on the island,” he says. “And the moments I know will never be in short supply.”

For those interested in buying an island, Tynan offers up a few tips:


There is a lot of work involved, but the satisfaction that comes from creating your own space is invaluable. (Photo: Tynan)

1. Just do it. If you were talking about buying a plot of land, it wouldn’t be a big deal. What’s the big with buying an island?

2. We got very lucky that our closest neighbors on the mainland let us use their dock to store our boat. I don’t know what we would do without them, so before you buy an island, that is something to consider. The same neighbors also let us fill up jugs of water before we head to the island. Again, it’s another thing to consider.

3. Do it with a big group. This is an experience you want to share with other people.

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