The Caribbean island of St Maarten has seen exponential growth in recent months, especially its real estate market. It has essentially transformed into a dynamic blend of Caribbean exuberance as well as a Dutch paradise. What else would you call a sun-soaked island with some of the most luxurious yet affordable properties, plus a forever blue sky? From fast-food chains to theme restaurants, malls, duty-free shopping, dance clubs, and casinos – you will find everything in St Maarten! It surely is a place you would want to spend the rest of your life, and in this article, we will tell you everything that you need to know about the island’s property market, plus why we think investing in St Maarten real estate would be a great investment going into the future.
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An overview of the St Maarten real estate market
St Maarten is a 37 square mile island that is divided between two nations, whereby the northern part of the island – Sint Maarten – forms part of the Kingdom of Netherlands, while the southern part, known as Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France. So, basically, you can say that the island is shared between the Dutch and the French, which gives it an amazing and diverse feel. This has been the case since 1648. And the thousands of tourists who jet into the island every year are able to enjoy the best of both worlds, including buzzing nightlife, European restaurants, spectacular beaches, and duty-free shopping.
Now, given its lively, cosmopolitan, and easily accessible nature, the island of St marten has become a well-established destination for foreign property buyers, where the market on both sides of the island is really well established, in fact, it is booming. Looking at the French side, the Terres Basses area has some of the island’s most magnificent and luxurious homes, with the opulent houses and villas concentrated on the hillsides along the Baie Rouge and Baie Longue beaches. The northern coastal area of Orient Bay has also seen massive property development. On the Dutch side, there are a variety of properties, from affordable condos to waterfront or beach villas and other luxury apartments. Areas such as Simpson Bay, Cupecoy, and Maho on the west coast, as well as Guana Bay and Orient Bay on the east coast, have also seen massive property development, which has, in turn, led to the boom we are currently seeing.
Best places to take a look into
Located on the northern coast on the French side, Anse Marcel is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, with warm and shallow waters that are ideal for swimming. We also have calm waters that are perfect for water sports that are always super popular with tourists on the island. The area has seen an influx of marinas, boutiques, restaurants, and even hotels in recent years, all thanks to the influx of tourists that have been experienced in recent months.
This one is located on the Dutch side of St Maarten, which is north of Simpson, Maho, and Bay. The Cupecoy Beach is super attractive with its soft golden sands, breathtaking views of nearby islands, and picturesque sandstone cliffs. Its waters are just spectacular for water sports, not to mention the great entertainment joints, including amazing restaurants, nightlife, and casinos, which means that any investor who buys property in Cupecoy will find themselves right in the middle of the action. This, in fact, has given the property market in the area a huge boost, as many people who come as tourists end up buying or renting property. This is why properties such as villas overlooking Cupecoy Beach, plus countless condos overlooking the marina, have been recently built.
This area is found on the eastern side of the St Maarten – on the Dutch side – between Guana Bay to the south and Oyster Pond to the north. Being a white sand beach, it has increasingly become super popular among tourists in recent years and, as such, has seen an increase in property development. Besides the fact that you can literally watch the sunrise, the water on the beach is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There are various properties being constructed and sold along the beach, and homes are also being built, especially on Tamarind Hill.
Located between Simpson Bay to the south and Cupecoy to the north and immediately adjacent to St Maarten’s international airport, Maho is the other place within the island that’s really doing well in terms of property development. When sunbathing on Maho beach, you will be able to see planes pass in a near distance right over their heads. That’s something many people tend to enjoy. Now, in recent years, Maho Beach has seen an increase in resorts, bars, restaurants, and casinos, giving the environment a lively atmosphere, which is popular with popular and property buyers alike. Real estate in the region varies and is very affordable, from student condos, which generate great rental yields for the buyers, to luxury apartments, which overlook Simpson Bay.
Here is the capital of the Dutch side of the island – St Maarten. Being the capital, it obviously means it’s the commercial heart of the island and thereby has a lot of commercial properties, with new ones under construction, particularly along Front Street, which is popular with cruise ship visitors. The population in this area is significant, and hence the demand for housing, especially luxury homes. There are numerous luxurious properties on the hillsides overlooking the surrounding area and beaches, with other waterfront condos in quieter areas that are also easily accessible from Philipsburg. The demand for property keeps going up, which has led to the current boom we are currently experiencing on the island.
With a number of resorts, shops, restaurants, marinas, and a beautiful beach, Simpson Bay is certainly a force to be reckoned with on St Maarten island. It’s a very lively and popular region, especially given that it’s only a couple of minutes from the airport. The beach is relatively quiet, which makes it ideal for relaxing. It scores high in terms of entertainment, and this draws visitors from all corners of the world. The more visitors there are, the more investors there are, and therefore, the higher the demand for luxury properties.
This is one of the most exciting property projects in St Maarten, currently under development by the Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS), which is a pension fund management. These new low-cost residential properties are located in Cay Hill, and they will provide golden opportunities to property investors in St Maarten to become proud owners or even renters of some of the most robust family homes in the region. Having been priced between $145,000 and $245,000, a majority of the properties were already under contract within the first months. And remember, this is despite the ravaging pandemic currently ravaging the globe. But this is actually understandable; there are a total of 62 one-two and three-bedroom units that are under 24-hour security and have been well-built and designed to withstand any hurricane. All these while still offering modern high-quality comfort for you and your family, and a parking space for every unit. This project really attracted a lot of interest among residential property owners, which, in turn, boosted the local real estate market.
Indigo Bay New Five Star Hotel
The other indication of the property market boom in St Maarten is the launch of the Indigo Bay hotel and condo project, led by Tau Capital, Cay Bay Development (CBD), and Altree Developments. The project did cost around $220 million, and it’s basically envisioned as a combination of some of the most luxurious hotel resorts and condo complexes in the region. The project features 5-star amenities including 94 hotel rooms and suites, as well as 55 lanai suites, plus 60 two-bedroom condo units and 15 three-bedroom units. We also have to mention the 10000 square foot super luxurious spa, an all-day dining restaurant, a conference facility, multiple swimming pools, pool bar, a beach bar, a kids club, and a fitness center, all offered in this property project. Truly, this is a milestone!
Reasons why we believe the St Maarten property market is worth looking into
The property market in St Maarten is quite vibrant, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, where pretty much everything is selling. Whether commercial, properties, warehouses, raw acreage, condos, or villas, they are always in demand. The buyers have been a bit aggressive during this period, and this has led to an increase in the selling prices. This has been partly due to Covid as well as the Hurricane Irma damage. We still think the market prices haven’t gotten to where we think they should be. This is a hot market, and as such, the prices are bound to go up, given that many investors are increasingly moving to the Caribbean in search of their dream property. So, you need to move today before the prices go up.
An increasing number of international students
St Maarten has seen an increase in the number of foreign students, especially from the United States, enrolling into the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), which is based in the Cupecoy area. As a property investor, this is an opportunity you would hate to miss. In fact, many of these students are always looking to live their best lives when they are there, and that means they are willing to pay a substantial amount to rent secure and luxurious apartments with amazing views. The campus accommodation is unable to hold all the students, so the university usually advises the students to seek apartments outside the school. This is something that many property investors have taken notice of and are now moving to make sure such structures are set up to take care of the growing student body.
Construction of studio apartments and condos is going on, where most of them are close to the university, others near the airport and Maho Beach. Commercial properties to hold restaurants, bars, gyms, and many more have also picked up the pace in order to meet the demand brought by the students. All these investments put together have really boosted the local real estate market and will continue doing so in the near future.
St Maarten Real Estate, economy, and infrastructure
To understand the real estate boom in St Maarten, we have to look at the economy as a whole. Now, the official currency used in the country is the Antillean Guilder. However, the American Dollar is widely accepted and exchanged throughout the island, where one dollar equals 1.78 Antillean guilders – which tells you a bit about the economy. The island’s economy largely relies on tourism, whereby almost 90 per cent of its working population is in occupations related to tourism, either directly or indirectly. Also, trade and financial services are the other forms of economic activities majorly carried out on the island. All these give the island of St Maarten one of the best per-capita incomes in the Caribbean. The government, however, is looking for ways it can diversify the economy, especially in a way that will still boost its main economic activity – tourism. This is one of the reasons there is so much emphasis on the real estate sector. The property sector is directly involved, especially when it comes to housing tourists. Resources have also been set aside to kickstart manufacturing as well as the light industry. But let’s stick with the property market for a while in this case, shall we?
Now, the real estate market offers a wide selection of amazing investing opportunities, both for people who prefer to settle on the island and for tourists looking for a holiday home. With as low as $300,000, you are able to get a luxurious condo or even a lavish seaside villa, which can be a fantastic holiday home. In addition, acquiring the property is super easy, as there are no restrictions to foreign homeownership or any residency requirements, which attracts a lot of foreign investors. However, for extended stays, you need to have the necessary legal documents. Then we have some of the best St Maarten real estate professionals and developers who understand the market perfectly and are always ready to help investors by guiding them through all the required steps in property transactions.
Also, apart from all these reasons, the increasing number of Americans and Europeans flocking to the Caribbean island in search of properties is also a clear indication of the booming real estate market. After all, given the economy and the infrastructure going on, who wouldn’t want a piece of the island?
The activities, dining, and entertainment
There are so many sporting and fitness activities that are quite popular with tourists on the island. Here, we are talking about tennis, hiking, horseback riding, golf, volleyball, and mountain biking, all of which are super fun and superb ways to remain active. Also, being an island, of course, it’s surrounded by water, and as such, there are a host of other water sports, including snorkelling, jet skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, and deep-sea fishing, all of which are also super popular among tourists, and even the locals. Just imagine doing any of these activities on a Caribbean island that’s part Dutch and part French? It’s the best!
The locals on the island are the other aspect that has attracted tourists and property investors to the island. Besides being super friendly and courteous, you can learn a lot from them, including their customs and traditions. You are able to feel accepted and as a part of the community. This is something that anyone looking to buy a property in any region seeks. We also have to mention the thrilling nightlife that draws visitors from all over the world. And that also boosts the property market, especially the rental market.
What the future holds for the St Maarten real estate market
When COVID-19 hit, and all the lockdowns were introduced, life, as we knew it, came to an end, and every one of us was worried about our futures. In St Maarten, things were pretty much the same as the rest of the world – in all sectors, including real estate. There was some disruption of mindsets both for the buyers as well as the sellers. Yes, the market wasn’t affected that much, but the effects of the pandemic were still felt in a way. Even though COVID is still here with us, the real estate market is expected to bounce back to its normal state pretty quickly. After all, there are no nearby islands that would fill the real estate economic void – it has no competition! So, the market will bounce back pretty well.
For anyone looking to sell property in St Maarten, finding buyers will even be easier as we head into the near future. The luxury market may not be back yet, as it did take a hit, but the mid to low market is on fire. Any property that’s priced under 500k is selling pretty quickly, and there is not much price movement at this point. However, one is required to price their property right if it’s to sell quickly. Currently, and pretty sure in the near future, prospective buyers are staying away from properties with inflated prices. This could be because of the tough economic hardships experienced on the island.
Pointe Blanche and Philipsburg did experience minimal real estate activities, mostly because of the uncertainties that surrounded the cruise ship industry, but as we move forward, and as the industry slowly recovers, everything is expected to bounce back real soon. Cole Bay, Cupecoy, and Cay Hill will continue to be in high demand even as we head into the future, mostly because of the new developments going on.
When it comes to the rentals, they were seriously affected, especially given the impacts the pandemic had on entertainment joints, including bars, restaurants, and tourist businesses. This did create a temporary void in the rental market, but recently, as the restrictions were eased and the entertainment joints were opened, the market has since recovered, and as we head into the future, it is expected to get even better. Some landlords are going to the extent of lowering the rents so as to attract tenants – but that’s how short-term rentals are. But one thing you should know is that the long-term rentals aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. So, there is a lot of hope that everything will get much better with time.
Generally, even though the number of tourists jetting into the country did reduce significantly due to the pandemic, as well as travel restrictions in other nations, not to mention that everyone was trying to follow WHO safety guidelines of staying home, the tourism sector will shoot up exponentially, once the world fully reopens. Considering how appealing the island really is, plus everything about it, especially its attractive and lucrative investment opportunities, the market is set to bounce back pretty quickly. So, we can say the future is even brighter for the St Maarten real estate market.
Looking at everything, from the residential communities to the more modestly priced and luxurious condo apartments and villas, we must say that St Maarten has a well-established, diverse, and booming property market that, despite the pandemic, wasn’t adversely affected as it was the case in other European countries. And the fact that you will be able to pick up a mortgage to finance the investment makes it even better, especially for foreign nationals. If you need any help, you can always get a qualified and professional local estate agent who has a better understanding of the local market to help you out.