Overview of Investing in Vanuatu in 11 short steps

Expat Expert Course

A short course designed to bring you up to speed on the Vanuatu scene… especially providing background to assist with making the decision to invest in this vibrant Pacific country and its happy people.

1. Real Estate world: meet Vanuatu –

Vanuatu: meet the world. It’s time!

Vanuatuinvest.com & Pacific Haven Resort Development Company introduce a new real estate market in Vanuatu –  a new emerging nation which is now in the process of opening up to the rest of the world.

Our project manager Richard Butler with over 37 years of development experience in Australasia and New Zealand discusses his first visit to Vanuatu in February 2008 just prior to the beginning of the current global credit crisis…

Richard reports:
I could see the beginning of the tightening of credit market and the plateau of property values throughout Australia and New Zealand which is now well and truly confirmed by the GFC or Lehman bros collapse, as it’s known in the USA.

I decided that I required a parallel real estate market to property developments where I was marketing and selling luxury resort and residential developments in the range of 1, 2, and 3 million for two and three-bedroom luxury apartments on the Queensland coast of Australia.

I could see that there was going to be a tightening of credit market. I have seen it before in the early 1980s; seven years later Wall Street crashed and again seven years later we had the Asian crisis. In places like Japan and New Zealand after the Commonwealth games as well as in Brisbane, rapid growth is a risk factor. Overstocked markets are not fun for investors.

But to provide the main two reasons to look for a parallel real estate market outside of Australasia…

1. The increase in property values made the affordability and finance of these projects for both developer and client almost impossible

2. The incredible amount of Government, Federal, State, and right down to the Local Council explosion of red tape and requirements, plus the over regulation and increase in cost of producing the product.

Vanuatu is an emerging nation which time forgot… up to now. Before 2005, you had to be a native to own land but it got a strata title act in 2005 and this was the key that has opened this market for international investors.

Now to provide below 3 reasons why I then committed to work with the Vanuatu real estate market.

1. The introduction of the new Strata Title Act in 2005 recommended by the World Trade Organisation is the first step for Vanuatu to open up to an increase in major income earning. Industry tourism amounts to 75% of the country’s GDP while cattle, timber and seafood cover the remaining 25%.

Many movies have been made based on inside knowledge of the stock market. I’d like to now reveal to you that “inside” or “activity knowledge” is one of the biggest secrets of property development.  My inside track was understanding that the new Strata Title Act would change the rules of development in Vanuatu and at the time the law firm that had assisted in writing the new act for the government provided me with activity knowledge of changes.  Developers are the instrument of change, so on an invitation to inspect property I flew over to Port Vila on a Saturday morning to inspect and the result is almost a decade later I have been appointed a Trade Commissioner for Vanuatu twice and have introduced many investors and business people to the Republic of Vanuatu.

We can introduce you to independent local lawyers and accountants that will work with you: from being a single lot buyer, project purchaser, joint venture opportunities or multiple purchasers, with the development companies I currently work with as a project manager.

2. Ease of access: Richard Branson, of Virgin Airlines fame, had introduced to Australia his brand and the concept of cheap flights in the early part of the 1990’s. Around 2000, Virgin then started flying into the Pacific Islands with a second southern hemisphere airline brand called Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) with initially $200 to $300 return flights (now averaging $550 -750 AUD) and direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney to Vanuatu.  Suddenly Australia opened up to the opportunity for inexpensive holidays into what I call a Pacific Paradise. I fell in love with Vanuatu on the very first day, as you do when meeting for the first time with a natural beauty.

3. The relaxed lifestyle: The first experience – other than the fantastic airline staff and friendly cabin crew – was the greeting at the airport: five Vanuatu men in a string band. One was using an empty tea chest with pole and string being plucked at its base, the rest of the band playing ukuleles, all with bright Polynesian shirts, and wearing circles of flowers as headbands or slung around their necks. They were singing in perfect harmony in their language, and it was a song I recognised, “Pearly Shells.”

I was whisked away from the Port Vila airport to Breakas Resort at Pango beach just a short 13 minute drive through Port Vila where I was accommodated in a waterfront resort stretched along 1.5 km of sandy beach.  It has now grown to 49 one-bedroom bungalows and 17 three-bedroom beachfront bungalows which show high occupancy and rent between $270 to $350 a night for the one bedroom fares (local name for the bungalow) to as high as $1350 a night for the three-bedroom bungalows let out to three couples. The manager ushered me past the horizon pool and restaurant down to a one bedroom beachfront fare and said “Settle in we’ll see you at the bar for a welcome cocktail.”

Welcome to Vanuatu!

I have been asked to write introductions to the real estate market in Vanuatu and I struggle to encapsulate in 1,000- or more word articles, the opportunities that abound in Vanuatu for real estate investors.  First of all, the residential resort I was in originally stretched along 1.5 km of beachfront  (They paid $170,000!)  on which he initially built five bungalows and the restaurant. The property now has 100 en suite rooms, which are only leased to adults (No children under 15 allowed). It’s the most successful no-children resort not only in the Pacific but more than likely the world.

The township of Port Vila is unique in style, with both French and English influences. It is right on the waterfront of the Bay. The township remained forgotten for many years and unbelievably was run until 1980 by the French and the English combined. In 1980, the Vanuatu people gained independence but the country still remains a fully paid up member of the British Commonwealth. The Parliament house with a two-party Westminster system of government provides guidance to the 250 odd thousand Vanuatu population, known as Ni–Vans, spread over 83 magnificent tropical islands.

How Pacific Haven Resort development got its start and why I can recommend it to you

One night at dusk at the Resort bar over a traditional local light Tusker lager I threw a line to one the owners to let me use the one and three-bedroom design again.  Could I use it on the new development for a Scuba divers international resort we wanted to do out at Teouma Bay about 15 minutes drive from downtown Vila?  This is known as the area that the expat community is destined to live in large numbers in the future with no less than three PGA golf courses planned. “Yes, no problem!” was his reply, “Go ahead!”


The concept for Pacific haven resort, with “Upmarket Tribal” Bungalow design started that night.

The successful Breakas resort, with “Upmarket Tribal” Bungalow design

The successful Breakas resort, with “Upmarket Tribal” Bungalow design

There’s a saying in real estate. If it isn’t broke then don’t fix it! The upmarket tribal design in a resort environment is an absolute runaway success.  We have duplicated the design and development at Teouma Bay and called the development Pacific Haven Resort.  We now offer it for the very first time with absolute beachfront bungalows sitting on 110 to 430 metre square strata title lots with town water, power and phone.  We can offer 23 one-bedroom bungalows known as ‘fares’ (far-ay) in stage 1 and 2 from $250,000 USD, plus built-to-order 3 bedroom two-storey bungalows from $499,950 USD ranging in size internally from 235 square metres to our luxury three-bedroom bungalow with 305 square metres, and all with a swimming pool.  Our development company decided to encourage early buyers by supplying a furniture kit for each of the houses: four-poster beds including plasma television screens in all bedrooms, and right the way down to knives, forks and glasses. All have direct access to the water.

We will fully manage these 1 or 3 bedroom properties for each purchaser and organise with the international holiday marketers for it to be one of their world-wide products.  Incidentally, the holiday marketers advise that we have a pent-up demand in Vanuatu of between 2,000 and 4,000 hotel rooms.  However, currently we only have 350 rooms in Vanuatu in excess of 3.5 stars!  And with over 120,000 people per year arriving by air you can see why this is such a great investment.

They come on Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Air Caledonia International, Air Pacific and Air Vanuatu.  Air Vanuatu is a codeshare with Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Air Pacific, plus Fiji Air which fly out of Los Angeles. Flying time from west coast USA to Vanuatu is approximately 12 hours and from Hong Kong 9 hours. Flying time from Queensland, Australia is just two and half hours and from Sydney just three half hours, and lastly, Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand 3.5 hours.

But why would you buy in Vanuatu?

In the last action packed years I’ve been asked: “Why would you want to buy in Vanuatu?” Well first of all, they welcome investors. Secondly, if you invest in real estate – more than $100,000 USD – you can apply for residency.  However, as soon as you arrive in Vanuatu you are immediately given a 30 day visa, and you are more than welcome to purchase real estate in Vanuatu without becoming a resident.

Vanuatu has no income tax, no corporate tax, no land tax and no death duties. The local banks in Vanuatu will provide finance to approved applicants from 70% to 80% on land and land and house packages depending on the client’s credit references. The bank should only require the asset in Vanuatu for security for the proposed loan but of course it is all subject to each client’s personal details.

We will manage the 1, 2, 3 bedroom property for you in the international holiday market. You can come to use it for 30 days a year and the rest of year we will let it out on your behalf. With a daily rental cost of $250 to $350 for the 1 bedroom bungalows and we offer a guaranteed 10 year lease-back & guaranteed rental return of 7.5%, plus you as an owner have 4 weeks a year free vacation time in your own bungalow .

Get the numbers!

As developers we believe in the adage (that I find has been forgotten completely) to “leave something in for the next man”- a secret of selling real estate that was first told to me 37 years ago.  We make our money as developers by developing the land, building the bungalow, selling the whole package to you, and then again by continuing to manage the property on your behalf.

So we are selling Vanuatu Pacific Haven Resort 1-bedroom bungalows in stage 1 off the plan with a bonus Owner’s Inspection Trip to Vanuatu to encourage purchasers from around the world.

The local bank is prepared to supply you with financing from 30% to 50% deposit to approved applicants.

Our property starts at $250,000 USD for the 1-bedroom free standing fares ( bungalows) the 3-bedrooms range from $499,000 to $695,000 USD and can be fully managed inside the resort development site. Lastly the developers have just released adjacent single 3 bedroom house and land packages for permanent residential waterfront living from $299,000 USD.

We are looking for investors worldwide. They come on almost as junior developers into our project, which is supported by a magnificent development site on a breathtaking pristine bay.  Our project, which will be designed to be a 4 star development made up of 23 x one-bedroom bungalows, 3 x 3-bedroom fares with an international standard a la carte restaurant, 22-metre pool, onsite Pro-Dive Diving Academy, Day Spa, sea deck beachside with direct access into the Bay and with its own boat ramp. The sea deck is designed to provide the most fantastic setting for sunset dining.

Please note that all development approvals have been secured and all titles have been produced and held for safe keeping with the local bank.

The development includes water sports like diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, catamaran sailing.  We have our own reef directly in front of the resort where local fishermen have jokingly challenged me on the ownership of the crayfish that are found along the front of the resort site onto the bay.  This spot is visited regularly by dugongs and dolphin and from time to time we have seen whales. Supplementary to this from December through to May we do have a recognised surf beach at the bottom end of the Bay.

Artist’s Impression, Pacific Haven Resort, Teouma Bay, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Artist’s Impression, Pacific Haven Resort, Teouma Bay, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Diving on a WWII wreck, Vanuatu. Photograph: David Kirkland

Diving on a WWII wreck, Vanuatu. Photograph: David Kirkland

Our development company is prepared to assist purchasers anywhere in the world to inspect on the basis that if you do buy we will provide you with the airfares and accommodation from your purchase price. What an inducement to come down under and buy yourself a piece of paradise either for a relocation, retirement or investment!

The opportunities in Vanuatu are second to none in the world.  We encourage property investors to examine our developments and even to come in as joint-venture partners.  We have opportunities in commercial development, resort development, small high-rise, agriculture and investment in timber syndicates.

Vanuatu has been discovered by the international cruising fraternity with three international cruise lines such as P&O, Carnival, currently planning to bring up to 500,000 people per annum by cruise ship into the Ssouth Pacific.  Reciprocal international flight arrangements with Singapore have recently been signed.  Asia will be a big market for Vanuatu with direct flights from China starting in the near future.

So to summarise and finalise, we can supply you with your ethical investment vehicle in Vanuatu: either Resort, residential, commercial, agricultural or marine. We have five planned strategically placed developments of international standard. Our investment and worldwide promotion is welcomed by the Vanuatu government and at all times we of course are concerned with and adhere to environment requirements.

But the biggest asset of the republic of Vanuatu without doubt is the people — so very welcoming! They are genuine in their desires and friendship, extremely religious and respectful to Elders. Most don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes and value your investment in their paradise as a five-star answer to poverty. They look forward to the provided better education, better health facilities and a higher standard of living in a country for their children and provide a higher living standard for their families where the average annual income is only just over $3000 per year.

To have part time staff to look after you and your property and family, including say a housemaid, garden man, driver and cook can cost less than $100 US per week

Tok Tok event, Vanuatu Tourism Office - PHOTO: Alcina Charlie

Tok Tok event, Vanuatu Tourism Office – PHOTO: Alcina Charlie

The Vanuatu Tourism Organisation conducts a successful annual Tok Tok event to attract travel agents and wholesalers. Can you imagine the tourism dollars flowing to this country over the next decade?!?  I invite you to get in on the ground floor with our resort developments and serviced bungalow investments, and we are more than happy to discuss commercial agricultural or marine real estate possibilities in the Republic of Vanuatu.

I invite you to visit Vanuatu and fall in love with its islands, pristine reefs, and fascinating coastline where the rainforest meets the ocean in true natural beauty and with genuine and friendly people as I have found them.  Lastly to describe the real estate market opportunity in Vanuatu in one paragraph…

Just think back to when China became a member of the World Trade Organisation in the year 2000.  What changes has China gone through!  Vanuatu is not China.  But 75% of China’s GDP is not a direct derivative of tourism.  In Vanuatu we now have the same rules and regulations for doing business as throughout the world.  This will encourage the other 160 odd members states of the World Trade Organisation who will now see our opportunities for growth.  I believe what is almost unmeasurable though is that the Vanuatu Government has a ‘can-do’ attitude.  This is a travel destination that has yet to be discovered by 99.99% of the world population. The time to invest in Vanuatu is now!

Remember we all look for a paradise. Here it is folks !

Regards, hoping to hear from you soon.

If you would like to call me I am contactable on +61 417 007 792

Richard Butler


Project Manager, Pacific Haven Resort Vanuatu

Please also view one of our related websites: www.allaboutvanuatu.com