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Thread: Owning in Aruba - pros and cons

  1. #1
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    Owning in Aruba - pros and cons

    Hi all,

    We have seriously considered buying a house in Aruba, hoping to spend a couple of months there during winter, working remotely. We are looking specifically at houses, as they seem like better value vs condos. The major problem I have trouble getting over is that the market is extremely opaque. Unlike here in the states, there's no MLS so it's impossible to see recent sales, trends, etc. You are essentially at the mercy of realtors - not a great position to be in... It does seem like real estate prices on the island are in decline, and properties have been sitting on the market for months. And yet sellers aren't jumping at lowball offers either. Perhaps everybody is just trying to wait out the pandemic...

    So, a few questions for Aruba property owners out there:

    1. Based on your observations, by how much have property prices declined year-over-year? If that's too broad of a question, we are looking at 3-bed/2-bath houses in Noord (Opal, Rooi Santo, etc). What would be a fair price range for those, assuming decent condition with need for some cosmetic repairs?
    2. What are the carrying costs for a house of that size, on top of land lease fees and property taxes? For example - insurance, trash removal, water, gas, electricity? If there are examples out there with and without a pool, that'd be awesome.
    3. Is it feasible to manage ownership of a house in Aruba remotely, visiting perhaps a couple of times a year? For example, I've seen posts on this forum about paying utility bills in cash in person, repairs taking forever, and so on. What other challenges and inconveniences of Aruba property ownership have you encountered? Any government-related challenges - inspections, tax forms, and such?
    4. Is it generally safe in Aruba to lock up the house and leave it unattended for months at a time? Or does everybody hire a property management company to periodically check in on things?

    Thank you,
    T
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  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    welcome to the aruba.com community forum tigi

    I hope that you get some answers !!

    November 26 - December 10 Photos https://photos.app.goo.gl/K6JFHPUx18oB69Nh7
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Aruba4ever's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. Happy 1st posting. So exciting to be thinking about buying on the island. I think many of the regular posters who own in Aruba own Condos but I am sure they can offer great insight. I think there is a lot to be said about meeting an agent you can trust. I know many members will have their suggestions and all of them have been very good. There is NO mls service like home so having someone you can trust would be invaluable. There are great values to be had if you are in the right spot at the right time. Watching the market and how fast properties sell will give you some idea...but its far from exact.

    Quote Originally Posted by tigi View Post
    Hi all,

    We have seriously considered buying a house in Aruba, hoping to spend a couple of months there during winter, working remotely. We are looking specifically at houses, as they seem like better value vs condos. The major problem I have trouble getting over is that the market is extremely opaque. Unlike here in the states, there's no MLS so it's impossible to see recent sales, trends, etc. You are essentially at the mercy of realtors - not a great position to be in... It does seem like real estate prices on the island are in decline, and properties have been sitting on the market for months. And yet sellers aren't jumping at lowball offers either. Perhaps everybody is just trying to wait out the pandemic...

    So, a few questions for Aruba property owners out there:

    1. Based on your observations, by how much have property prices declined year-over-year? If that's too broad of a question, we are looking at 3-bed/2-bath houses in Noord (Opal, Rooi Santo, etc). What would be a fair price range for those, assuming decent condition with need for some cosmetic repairs?
    2. What are the carrying costs for a house of that size, on top of land lease fees and property taxes? For example - insurance, trash removal, water, gas, electricity? If there are examples out there with and without a pool, that'd be awesome.
    3. Is it feasible to manage ownership of a house in Aruba remotely, visiting perhaps a couple of times a year? For example, I've seen posts on this forum about paying utility bills in cash in person, repairs taking forever, and so on. What other challenges and inconveniences of Aruba property ownership have you encountered? Any government-related challenges - inspections, tax forms, and such?
    4. Is it generally safe in Aruba to lock up the house and leave it unattended for months at a time? Or does everybody hire a property management company to periodically check in on things?

    Thank you,
    T
    June 8th - can't get here quick enough!








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  4. #4
    Super Moderator WaltVB's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum tigi! Good luck in your quest to purchase on Aruba. I can't answer any of your questions but I would never leave a property unattended in Aruba. I would think a property manager a must.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member ~Amy~®'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigi View Post
    4. Is it generally safe in Aruba to lock up the house and leave it unattended for months at a time? Or does everybody hire a property management company to periodically check in on things?

    Thank you,
    T
    I have many friends on the island (Dutch, Americans, and Arubans) who have owned or currently own a home. NEVER would I leave it unattended without a property manager - and even a property manager isn't a guarantee of not having "issues".
    ~Amy~® -- South Beach: Jan. 2020 -- New Orleans: Feb. 2020 -- Playa del Carmen: March 2020 -- San Juan Islands: Sept. 2020 -- 40th trip to Aruba: Oct. & Nov. 2020 -- 41st trip to Aruba: Feb & March 2021

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  6. #6
    Senior Member robin's Avatar
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    We own a condo at Oceania. When we first started looking we considered a house, but decided we'd feel safer in a gated community with 24/7 security. I spoke with someone who grew up in and lives in Aruba. She said she knew of single family homes, who did have a property manager, but because no one is there all the time, the houses were cleaned out by thieves. It is trues, that with technology, you can see what is going on, but that is only if they don't disconnect the wifi or shut off the power.

    I can not speak to owning a home, others on here can, but I can tell you this from owing a condo:

    1. whatever it is-expect it to cost twice as much and take at least twice as long to finish and last half the time
    2. utilities are expensive
    3. even running the AC 24/7 appliances do not last as long as they do at home and neither do the AC units. The salt air is corrosive.
    4. they just passed that all property taxes must be paid with a debit card from a bank on the island unless you are over 60 years old
    5. everything operates on island time-a good example-a tree uprooted last week along the beach. It took them between 3 and 4 days to remove it and there were never less than 5 men on the job. At home, that tree would have been gone in a few hours.
    6. if you ask the same question of several people, expect multiple answers to the same question
    7. everything need to shipped in-they don't make much here other than Arubians, aloe products, beer and a few other things
    8. our homeowner's insurance does not allow for the condo to be empty for more than 40 days without someone going in and inspecting it.

    I can give you the name of who we used to purchase our condo. They also manage it. I have found, when asking them questions, their answers have been correct. They are good.

  7. #7
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    Many thanks to all who responded!

    Robin - impressive list - very thorough. I am quite surprised by the mention of houses being broken into though. Aruba seemed pretty safe when we were there just a few weeks ago, especially compared to some other places I've visited. Parts of downtown Oranjestad looked a bit shady, but we chalked that up to cruises not running...

    We stayed in Oceania for 2 weeks in Dec, renting via Prestige. I believe they are your property management company as well. Agree - they are a decent bunch of folks - all very responsive and helpful. And my wife and I both really liked Oceania, but those management fees are out of control. And there aren't any Venezuelans desperate to sell right now

    Interesting comment as well, that property taxes now would need to be paid via a local bank. I was trying to figure out a way to avoid opening an account there, since foreign accounts must be declared on US tax return. I guess there's no way around it now...
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Aruba4ever's Avatar
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    I am enjoying this posting. We are in the beginning process of trying to plan for a spot in 2-3 years if possible. There are replies that are very valuable that I would not have really thought of, thanks! We had zero plans to rent it but reading some of the postings that may or may not be the best decision. Following this thread.
    June 8th - can't get here quick enough!








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  9. #9
    Senior Member robin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigi View Post
    Many thanks to all who responded!

    Robin - impressive list - very thorough. I am quite surprised by the mention of houses being broken into though. Aruba seemed pretty safe when we were there just a few weeks ago, especially compared to some other places I've visited. Parts of downtown Oranjestad looked a bit shady, but we chalked that up to cruises not running...

    We stayed in Oceania for 2 weeks in Dec, renting via Prestige. I believe they are your property management company as well. Agree - they are a decent bunch of folks - all very responsive and helpful. And my wife and I both really liked Oceania, but those management fees are out of control. And there aren't any Venezuelans desperate to sell right now

    Interesting comment as well, that property taxes now would need to be paid via a local bank. I was trying to figure out a way to avoid opening an account there, since foreign accounts must be declared on US tax return. I guess there's no way around it now...

    The tax change just went into effect the beginning of the year. It really doesn't effect us because Prestige handles all of our bills related to the condo. We just pay for our insurances ourselves and anything related to the car. Besides, if you are over 60 you can pay the taxes in cash, which I will be at the end of the year.

    Prestige does take a lot, but it is worth every penny. They are here for all issues. They arranged and over saw the replacement of our AC unit. They are here for all inspections and repairs. They accepted shipment and paid the duty on our washer and dryer and gave us the contact info of their contacts in Miami. They know where to get items. They have been invaulable to us.

  10. #10
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    A perspective from a single family house owner:

    We have owned our home on the island for about 12 years.
    Retired and at least one of us is here most of the time

    I would not leave a home unattended for months anywhere including the USA.

    When we are both gone we have family or friends who come and 'house sit'. Mainly because we have two dogs we would rather not board and plants that need watering. However, if gone for less than a week we have great neighbors who take care of those things

    We live in an established neighborhood with all homes occupied (with one exception we are the newbies!) . I think that makes a difference. We all know each other and while we are not on each other's doorstep each day everyone keeps an eye out. People go on vacation and tell a neighbor and neighbor watches for anything different (nothing has!)

    We are not on or across the street from the water as Robin is....therefore, I have the same appliances for 12 years. We have replaced some aircos, glad to as the newer ones are quieter and more energy efficient.

    Our aircos are splits ( in each room) that might keep our energy costs reasonable. In addition my range is gas and my hot water is gas. I fill one of those big white tanks once a year for around $50. Water bill is way less than NH water bill and while electric is higher (we run the aircos during the day in rooms we occupy as well as bedroom at night....(too old to be uncomfortable...lol) it is less than electric and winter heat costs.

    It is difficult to find dependable and good workers, electric, plumbing, etc and when you do , cherish them.

    If you see something you like in the store, buy it...like Robin said everything is shipped in....and when it is gone it is gone (furniture, etc).

    We do not rent out our property. If you do that creates another set of issues. Do vacation rental only. Long term rental is very tricky.

    Location is something to consider. Many think they want to own in the busy tourist areas. Our decision was it is too busy, too many people coming and going, not stable etc in some areas. We enjoy a few hours in the tourist area but we love coming back to our very nice and very quiet neighborhood. We would never know there is Carnival, or Beach Tennis, or Concerts, or cruise ships in unless we choose to partake!

    You should check with a US accountant who has some experience with foreign accounts or is willing to check on it. You may find the regulations are better than you think.

    Everything costs more here. It is to be expected as there are shipping costs and duty tax.

    You likely will see more of your family and friends....all our's love getting away from the 'cold' for 10 days or more!

    Our other home is in NH....so I really appreciate the following: In January when I leave the house to go outside, I change from my inside flip flops to my outside flipflops and off I go!

    good luck! (oh and we have no regrets about our purchase!!!)
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