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Seeking seclusion? As five magnificent islands go under the hammer next month, now's your chance to be ruler of your own kingdom.

Who hasn't fantasized about being swept up on a desert island, spending one's days looking out at a clear horizon and feasting on freshly caught fayre procured from the cool, clear waters surrounding your own private paradise? On August 10, the world's largest island auction will take place. Five spectacular islands are all on the block, with bidding starting at a fraction of their value. Fancy getting away from the stress of New York City? Green Island ( hyperlink http://www.sheldongood.com/detail.php?id=435) and Thompson Island, (http://www.sheldongood.com/detail.php?id=434) both set on the Hudson River, offer a retreat from nearby Manhattan. For those seeking something a little more exotic, why not your very own atoll of stunning South Pacific Islands? (http://www.sheldongood.com/detail.php?id=432) Or a secluded paradise in one of the hottest spots in island ownership, Belize, (http://www.sheldongood.com/detail.php?id=431)?

If you harbor dreams of being a modern pioneer, this may be the perfect opportunity, but as Director of Toronto based island broker Private Islands Online (http://www.privateislandsonline.com) Chris Krolow points out, not everyone is cut out for island life, "We have a quiz on our website which helps you to answer this question. If you do it and fail, the chances are you may not be cut out for it, but on the other hand, the best way to figure it out is to rent an island." Private Islands Online also offers up to 200 islands to rent in the most popular ownership locations. "Another thing you should also consider is whether you fit in with the local culture, because you're not just buying an island, you are buying its surroundings too. It's often a different culture, with different languages; it can be very restricting, leaving you feeling very isolated," he adds.

Island life conjures up quintessential images of Robinson Crusoe, stranded amid lush vegetation and tropical climes, but it is not only the sun-drenched sugar white beaches of Fiji's Blue Lagoon Island (on sale for approximately $32,000,000) (http://www.privateislandsonline.com/bluelagoonisland.htm), or the star of Sheldon & Good's auction, Thatch Cay in the US Virgin Islands, (http://www.sheldongood.com/detail.php?id=429) which are being snapped up. Canada and Upstate New York have become unlikely hotspots. Krolow bought his own island close to Toronto two-and-a-half years ago. "Lots of people who buy an island buy it as a vacation home. Canada is a lot cheaper and it has lots of wildlife. However, there's a trend, particularly in North America - Nova Scotia, Maine and the East Coast - where governments are buying up islands to preserve them, and therefore driving up prices." The advantages of these less exotic locations: proximity and convenience of travel from the mainland; and political stability. "The more stable the country, the better the investment, and the less likely they are to seize your property," explains Krolow.

Surprisingly, your own island doesn't necessarily have to cost the price of a small country. The 3.5 acre Odell Island on Canada's wildlife rich Chamcock Lake, (http://www.privateislandsonline.com/odell-island.htm) is a steal at under $32,000 and although extremely modest, the 0.5 acre Philippine island of Pulareken, (http://www.privateislandsonline.com/pularekenisland.htm) priced at $50,000, boasts beautiful views and close proximity to a major airport. However, before putting pen to paper, one vital question remains; who will be your girl Friday?

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