The Hidden Costs of Tropical Property Investments: Paradise Comes with a Price
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The Hidden Costs of Tropical Property Investments: Paradise Comes with a Price

In the tropical north, weather patterns can trip up the unsuspecting investor, with extra costs on everything from pools and aircon to insurance and garden design

By Sara Mulcahy
Fri, Oct 27, 2023 11:58amGrey Clock 3 min

There’s a lot to think about when purchasing an investment property, and location is often at the top of the list. This will crucially affect rentability, income and ultimately, sale price. Investors also need to factor in its knock-on effect on maintenance costs. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the Tropics.

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area accounts for the land between Townsville and Cooktown on the north-east coast of Queensland, covering an area of more than 8000km. Within this, FNQ holiday hotspots such as Mission Beach, Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas have become sought-after investment addresses in the post-pandemic era. Ah, the Aussie Tropics! Year- round sunshine, a holiday lifestyle and (compared to our more southerly cities) affordability. So far, so idyllic.

But what else do you need to know before you put down that deposit? Here are some of the ongoing costs involved in investing in a tropical dream.

Growing pains

Most landlords in the Tropics include regular garden (and irrigation) maintenance as part of the monthly rent. Mitch Sullivan, horticulturalist with Papillon Landscapes and Construction, works on properties in Cairns, the Daintree and everywhere in between.

“Anyone who’s been around long enough, knows how hard it can be,” he says. “People from down south often aren’t aware of the rate at which everything grows. If you don’t have the knowledge, or the time, it can get away from you really quickly.”

And if you have paying guests, you need to keep your corner of paradise in tip-top shape.

“Occasionally you may get a tenant who says they want to look after the gardens but that usually doesn’t go too well,” he says.

Landscaping companies charge from around $120 for a fortnightly service, depending on the size and scope of your block. It’s always good to get a quote upfront.

Keep it covered

Extreme weather patterns all over Australia in the past few years have made it clear that adequate insurance is a no-brainer. And when you’re buying property in a region that’s at risk of cyclones for six months of the year, it’s especially pertinent. According to financial comparison site Canstar’s calculation of average annual home and contents insurance premiums across Australia in 2021, North Queensland’s premium more than doubles the Queensland average and approximately triples the other states and territories (except NT). While the risks are minimised by the fact that the properties are built to code — ie to withstand a cyclone — it isn’t a foolproof system, and the wise investors will have their properties checked prior to cyclone season for signs of deterioration.

How’s the humidity?

With winter lows at around 25 degrees and hot, humid conditions in the wet season, aircon is a must. Jason and Anne Moore (pictured below) are resident managers at Freestyle Resort in Port Douglas, where air conditioning is a responsibility of the individual apartment owner/investor.

“Aircon units have a relatively short shelf life here because they’re almost constantly in use,” says Jason. “They often don’t outlast the warranty period so it’s something else for buyers to factor in.”

Humidity is also responsible for mould, which can be a major issue in the tropics, especially if a property is left vacant for periods of time during the wet season.

“If you leave a place locked up for eight weeks you may well come back to find it’s turned green,” says Jason. “Once it’s in, mould is not easy to get rid of. Removal is an expensive exercise.”

In the swim

Not every property has a pool but it’s one of the most popular add-ons for a rental in the Tropics, so let’s assume your investment has one. As with gardening, pool maintenance is generally built into the rent. Holiday makers expect a pristine pool, and you probably don’t want to trust long-term tenants to maintain the chlorine levels and keep the filter running.

Daryl Taylor owns and runs Happy Pools, servicing pools from the Northern Beaches of Cairns northwards up the coast.

“Most landlords have a pool maintenance service,” he says. “It makes sense up here because people swim pretty much all year round, so you need it to be operating perfectly. In the wet season, we get an enormous amount of rain, and this dilutes the chemicals and washes the garden into the pool.”

Happy Pools offers different tiers of service for rentals from monthly and fortnightly regulars up to several times a week.

“Holiday properties need more attention because guests are in the pool a lot — people are leaving beer bottles around and kids are weeing in there — so we need to service it between each booking.”

Expect to pay around $45 (plus chemicals) for a fortnightly service, depending on your pool.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).


People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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