Aucklanders are paying premium prices for average houses to be close to the city and good school zones. Alanah Eriksen looked at 10 private islands around the world that cost less than homes in central Auckland
Spearhead Island, Ontario, Canada
Spearhead Island is 4046sq m (1 acre) and is surrounded by crystal clear waters - and it's yours for less than $900,000.
Sitting on Lake Huron in southeastern Canada, the cosy retreat features a spacious three-bedroom cottage with views over Georgian Bay and expansive decking.
The pine property with bathroom, living and sitting room runs on solar and generator power as well as propane.
Two floating docks can accommodate your yacht with the surrounding waters ripe for boating.
30 Dickens St, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Or, for an extra $127,000, you could get this four-bedroom "do-up" in Grey Lynn. The former state house sold for almost $1 million last year.
Described as a "Grey Lynn gold mine", interior photos showed torn carpet, exposed floorboards, stained walls and floors, loose wiring and a bathroom hand basin covered in stickers.
Sitting on a 480sq m section, the 121sq m weatherboard had one bathroom and a separate toilet.
The listing warned potential buyers: "Not for the faint-hearted, bring your hammer and nails and plenty of imagination. Calling builders, developers, first-home buyers."
But it's within Auckland Girls Grammar zone and minutes from the city so was snapped up quickly.
It was bought by a developer and is on the market again having undergone a full renovation, including the installation of a swimming pool. It is expected to go for above $1.9 million.
Price: $3.3 million
Bannister Caye, Belize
Surrounded by white sandy beach in the Caribbean Sea, Bannister Caye is a true tropical hideaway.
Guests can enjoy kayaking, swimming, snorkelling and diving around the coral, fishing and of course partying.
As well as guest, owner, workers and caretaker quarters, there are three bars, a large kitchen and dining area. And there is room for expansion.
The 11,331sq m (2.8-acre) section is leased to a tour operator who caters to the cruise ship industry. You can turn it into your own private retreat or continue to enjoy the revenue from the tenant.
It's 14km from Belize City where English is the official language, so you won't struggle to understand the locals, although you'll score points if you learn a bit of Spanish which is more commonly spoken.
Price: $3.75 million
8 James Cook Cres, Remuera
You'll pay more for this 416sq m spot in Remuera than you would for a tropical island in central America.
Sure, it comes with a 400sq m five-bedroom home but that doesn't leave much room to swing a cat outdoors.
Located within the "double grammar zone" for Epsom Girls Grammar and Auckland Grammar and minutes from the CBD, it's all about location for this property.
On the market for $3.75 million, the real estate agent describes the home as a "magnificent castle-like property" that was "built and specially designed by professionals, creating the impossible".
You'll have views of Rangitoto Island but you won't wake to the sound of the sea splashing on the white sandy beach that is your backyard.
Price: $2.05 million
Carbery and Cold Islands, Ireland
Just over $2 million will get you not one but two islands on the southern coast of Ireland. Located in the picturesque Dunmanus Bay, West Cork, the 137,593sq m (34-acre) property includes a floating pontoon for your helicopter and swing moorings for your boat.
The main island, Carbery, has a new four-bedroom, two-storey house finished in West Cork stone with handmade pitch pine double-glazed windows, paved stone patio surrounding the home, polished, sprung wooden flooring throughout and a stone fireplace.
The house overlooks your own private sandy beach.
A separate single-level wooden building houses the generator.
On the western side, rocky ledges give protection to the island.
Cold Island to the east is little more than scattered rock outcrops and a bit of grass but it's home to a seal and otter colony. The island has its own water supply and a septic tank system.
Price: $2.1 million
43 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
It's cute, convenient and clean - and for $2.1 million it's yours.
The renovated weatherboard, four-bedroom 1913 villa on sought-after St Georges Bay Rd in Parnell is just a hop, skip and a jump from Prime Minister John Key's $8 million mansion.
Although it's within the "double grammar zone" the 282sq m home is on a half-share 862sq m section.
There's no garage but enough bathrooms for each room and resource consent to operate as a bed and breakfast. And buyers will be just around the corner from Parnell village, the French markets and Newmarket and close to transport links.
Price: $1.2 million
Nanuku Levu Island, Fiji
Just a few hours from New Zealand is 42,492sq m (10.5-acre) Nanuku Levu Island on the Heemskerg Reef, east of Vanua Levu, one of Fiji's largest islands.
Building is encouraged by the local authorities, allowing you to develop the island into a dream tourist destination or create your own private paradise.
A modest three-bedroom cottage has a basic kitchen, lounge area and bathroom. Its iron roof is designed to capture rainwater for two 5000-litre fibreglass tanks.
The cottage's appliances include a gas stove, stainless steel double sink, freezer and crockery and cutlery. Mattresses, bedding and furniture will also stay on the island.
A separate bure - or wood and straw hut - sleeps seven people.
The bure and cottage are powered by the island's wind generator and solar panels and a small generator.
There's surfing and plenty of unspoiled nature to occupy you.
Price: $1.3 million
39 Spencer Rd, Remuera
The most expensive state house sold last year was this two-bedroom weatherboard home in Remuera which reached $1.3 million - nearly double its valuation.
The 1940s house on Spencer St on a sloping 683sq m section had a rating value of $770,000.
Real estate agents said the sale caused an "auction frenzy" with 51 people registered as potential buyers.
The house needed work but was within a good school zone and close to the city.
But if it came down to a tropical island in Fiji and a ex-state house crammed on a city section, many might find the choice is easy.
Price: $1.6 million
Ile de la Baie Bertrand, Quebec, Canada
Just a five-minute boat ride to the Gatineau Fish & Game Club boathouse, this 16,592sq m (4.1-acre) island on Gatineau lake is perfect if you don't want to stray far from the city.
It includes an immaculate four-bedroom home built in 2003 and a two-bedroom guest house.
The exterior of the main house is painted clapboard and the interior pale bleached pine.
The ground floor has a massive screened porch which wraps around the entire property with 270-degree water views.
A granite kitchen opens on to the living room which features a stone fireplace. The master bedroom has a private deck and cedar-lined walk-in closet and a marble bathroom.
Houses are set back from the water with a lawn rolling down to a private beach with a cedar swimming raft ahead. The island is 90 minutes from Ottawa Airport.
Price: $1.7 million
6 Bishop St, Epsom
In a double grammar zone, this Epsom property is on the market for $1.7 million.
Not quite a 16,592sq m hideaway in Quebec, more like a 857sq m practical villa in the suburbs.
Fully renovated, the four-bedroom weatherboard house is northwest facing so is drenched in sun.
The real estate agent talks up the "romantic property" in the listing saying: "From the moment you step through the door, the magic of this special home will capture your heart.
"The rich timbered floors, high stud and beautiful character throughout compliment the generously proportioned living rooms and genuine double bedrooms."
Price: $1.6 million
Krokholmen, Bodo, Norway
It might not be a tropical paradise, but Krokholmen in Norway is still an interesting getaway.
And it's a lot more than what your money would get you in Auckland.
Located near the popular tourist town of Bodo in the Nordland region of the country, the island is 202,343sq m (50 acres).
The sale price includes several buildings and cabins on the island - the oldest built in 1850.
The last permanent inhabitants left in the 1970s and a business acquired the islands and restored the buildings.
Today it is conference and holiday destination.
The island is famous for its clean water, excellent fishing, and sea and mountain adventures.
Price: $1.79 million
97 Lucerne Rd, Remuera
Described in the real estate listing as "deceptively large", this five-bedroom Remuera home is still only 379sq m including decking.
The 1950s brick property is on a 607sq m section and has two bathrooms and four car spaces.
On the market for $1.788 million, 97 Lucerne Rd is outside the sought-after "triple grammar zone" for Auckland Grammar School, Mt Albert Grammar School and Epsom Girls Grammar School.
The real estate agent promises you'll love relaxing and entertaining on the deck with an outdoor fireplace and views of the valley.
If you don't mind public transport, the house is a short walk to Meadowbank train station.
Price: $1.29 million
Little Ironsides Island, Alexandria Bay, New York
Close to Alexandria Bay in New York state, Little Ironside Island is your own 5260sq m (1.3-acre) getaway.
It features a waterfront house and two cottages with dozens of beds available to fit family and friends.
A 30m floating dock is set up for your yacht.
There is also a pool and deck built into the rock.
Price: $1.455 million
115 Crummer Rd, Grey Lynn
A bit like the name of the street it sits on, this property was a little crummy when it sold at auction this year.
With no garaging, just one bathroom and a floor area of 151sq m, the four-bedroom 1900s weatherboard house reached $1.455 million.
That was nearly 50 per cent above its valuation of $980,000.
The listing showed pictures of 1970s-style carpet and clashing wallpaper with the outside in need of a paint job. It has a 556sq m section.
The former owner bought the house in June 2011 for $1.11 million, making a $345,000 profit in less than two years without doing anything to it.
The new owners, Auckland art teacher Belinda Wilson and her husband, moved from Mt Eden and planned to renovate the home, starting with an art gallery and studio downstairs for her students.
But the views were a selling point - expansive towards Coxs Bay - and it's in zone for Auckland Girls Grammar, Western Springs College, Kowhai Intermediate and Grey Lynn School.
Price: $1.053 million
Ducks Island, Ohio, US
How would you like to wake up to a view of sparkling calm waters every morning? Ducks Island on Ohio's Buckeye Lake is the place for you.
At just over $1 million, the 1011sq m (quarter-acre) property is less than most run-down villas in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn.
The real estate agent is using Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's restaurants, as a selling point. He built his own island home at Buckeye Lake.
The home on the island, built in 1998, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, separate living and dining and a panoramic view of water.
A spa sits outside the patio door and there is wraparound decking. A boardwalk surrounding the island is perfect for exercising.
There are eight private docks so there's plenty of room for your boating friends to park.
Nearby Buckeye Lake village has five lakeside restaurants and the private members' Yacht Club.
The airport at Columbus, the closest city, makes the area easily accessible.
Price: $1.2 million
32 Baildon Rd, Grey Lynn
The new owners of 32 Baildon Rd really stepped into a time machine. And it cost them $1.2 million.
The four-bedroom property sold for $380,000 above its valuation of $820,000.
Painted yellow and sporting a red and white awning at the front, you could be mistaken for thinking the house was stuck in the 1970s.
But it is sitting on a 429sq m section in Grey Lynn - so it was prime real estate.
With a 122sq m floor area, it's likely to bowled over or extended to create a new dream home.
Lime Cay, Pearl Cays, Nicaragua, central America
Just 4.8km off mainland Nicaragua, you can live like Robinson Crusoe on this tropical desert island - although a little more luxuriously.
You can land a helicopter on 38,445sq m (9.8-acre) Lime Cay. Boats can be chartered from Bluefields, the main town on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast, about 1 hours away. Bluefields is a one-hour flight to Managua.
Surrounded by white sandy beaches, the northern part of the island has a mangrove forest and the rest is covered in coconut palms and other vegetation. There are many noni plants - a tree in the coffee family - which bear fruit year round.
Shallow water surrounds the island to a distance of about 300m.
The island features a main house on the beach with four bedrooms, each with an ensuite, as well as a small house in the middle of the island and a caretaker's cottage overlooking the beach.
There is running water, a freshwater well on the island which replenishes year round and a septic tank. A generator provides power.
Price: $1.2 million
49 Rose Rd, Grey Lynn
This rundown Grey Lynn villa shocked many when it sold for $1.2 million last month. With a large hole in the toilet floor and watermarked ceilings, the buyers were definitely paying for the land and the area, not the house.
The property went for $520,000 over its valuation of $680,000.
With just 80sq m of floorspace and sitting only on a 354sq m section, the three-bedroom home features a lounge and bathroom but no garaging - only a carport. It sold for more than a three-storey Tauranga mansion with harbour views and a swimming pool.
Diamond Cay, Honduras, central America
You'll have to build your own house, but for less than $900,000, Diamond Cay is a steal.
The 5665sq m (1.4-acre) island in Honduras is located near Roatan, the country's biggest island.
The reef surrounding the paradise is a rough diamond in shape and has white sandy beaches and plenty of tropical vegetation.
With diving, snorkelling and fishing, Diamond Cay is private yet minutes from all the necessary amenities.
Water and power can be readily set up and the island is primed for development.
English is the first language of native Roatan Islanders.
39 Millais St, Grey Lynn
This three-bedroom villa, which had a council valuation of $840,000, sold for just over $1 million last year, reflecting what house-hunters are willing to pay for prime land in the sought-after suburb of Grey Lynn.
Photos taken inside showed chipped paint, stained carpet, missing windows and kitchen cupboards, exposed pipes and old plumbing fittings and appliances.
The house, on a 480sq m section, has one bathroom, a separate toilet and a large west-facing backyard - but no garaging.
An advertisement said it was "ripe for the picking and awaits your imagination and flair" and was "the perfect place to create a dream home for you and your family".