20 Best-Life Secrets From Beachfront Bargain Hunters

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Live smarter by the beach with these budget-friendly tips.

Reset your watch for “island time.”

Beachfront communities lack a certain urgency that bedevils the rest of the world; letting one’s schedule bend and stretch a bit is good for the soul.  

Nothing beats local eats.

Trendy farm-to-table restaurants and newcomers to the “slow food” movement are getting on board with what chefs in the tropics have always known — that is, that fresh grub harvested and produced nearby is far tastier than packaged-and-preserved imports. (Bring on the coconut and tropical fruit, please.)

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  1. snow cones

Photo By: Andrew McGary ©© 2015 HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Gadgets are overrated.

A decade ago, almost no one could check in with work from a phone on the beach. Wasn’t that a marvelous time to be alive? 

Photo By: Anna Bryukhanova

A signature cocktail is a must.

It’s probably possible to lean back in a deck chair and watch the sun set over the ocean without a beachy drink in hand, but who wants to find out? Whether you’re clinking glasses at a casita on the Gulf of Mexico or at a condo in Miami, a good host has a house specialty (and can whip up a pitcher of it in no time flat). 

Make This: Sol de Flare Cocktail

Workouts aren’t work on the shore.

It’s a lot easier to get your Surgeon-General-recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day when they’re in the sand or the boardwalk.

Coastal style keeps summer going all year long.

Crisp whites, breezy curtains and tropical details can perpetuate June in any room you choose — even when it’s November on the other side of the front door.

Photo By: Christopher Paul Luker

Scenery is all the artwork you need.

In a home with a priceless view, that view can take center stage — no embellishment necessary. (If you just happen to have a big vintage surf poster collection, of course, it’d be pretty odd to leave it out of your beachfront home. Otherwise, don’t worry about a gallery wall.)

From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)

Home doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be welcoming.

Large and luxurious spaces are nice, but cheery and humble ones are just as fun. If you’ve got a well-stocked fridge, you’ll be fine without granite countertops — promise.

Go green.

Nothing says “Hey, did you notice this fabulous natural setting?” like setting some fabulous nature around your home; both lush foliage and flowers from the local farmers’ market can make a space bloom.

No, seriously, go green.

Beach dwellers have front-row seats for the results of everything from manmade pollution and coastal erosion to climate change and extreme storms; the rest of us would do well to keep an eye on how our environment affects us (and vice versa), too.  

The ocean really does lull you to sleep.

The whooshing sound of waves registers as a non-threat that tells our brains “don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry,” according to a sleep researcher from Penn State. No wonder white noise machines with “ocean” settings — and bedrooms that face the sea — are so popular.

The beach is a place and a state of mind.

Studies have shown that just thinking about an upcoming vacation has a positive effect on our happiness. That’s a perk that beachfront property owners get to enjoy on a permanent basis. Well played, beach house buyers. 

Photo By: Photolyric Stock Productions (Kl

Think outside the “hot spots.”

The easiest way to sidestep the inflation, overcrowding, and tackiness of popular destinations is, well, to sidestep those destinations. Prices and the odds of having to fight for a spot on the beach often drop when you’re willing to look past resort towns and keep going a few miles down the road.

Photo By: JOSH_HODGE

Life is full of compromises.

In some cases that means a five-minute walk to the shore instead of a budget-busting vacation home right on the water; in other cases it means agreeing to a move-in-ready property because your spouse has subtly indicated that too-ambitious DIY projects will land you in marriage counseling. Happily, the beach is worth it. 

If a fixer-upper isn’t your thing, let it go.

A savvy bargain hunter knows when a property needs a little love and its price might come down accordingly. A really savvy bargain hunter knows when he or she doesn’t have quite that much love to give and keeps on walking.

Getting enough water is essential.

Hydration is key, of course, but swimming, snorkeling, and sailing are equally vital. The best thing about a house on the beach is leaving it behind and making a beeline for the waves. 

Photo By: Photolyric Stock Productions (Kl

Put your home to work.

An occasionally unoccupied home can help pay for itself if local authorities are comfortable with you renting it out when you’re not in town (and you’re comfortable with sharing your stuff with strangers). Given what that revenue could add to your budget, sharing your stuff sounds pretty good, no? 

Photo By: Paul Piebinga

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Buyers with an eye on the beach are willing to forgo details that some of us hold dear in order to realize their dreams: who cares about a private bathroom or a washer-dryer when the ocean is right outside? “Nothing is better than simplicity,” Walt Whitman once said. He also said, “to me the sea is a continual miracle.” Coincidence?

Details should be fun.

Beachfront homes are all play and no work, hopefully; shouldn’t they be full of things that make you smile? Come to think of it, shouldn’t all living spaces function that way?

Paradise is even better when you share it.

When you find your favorite place in the world, it’s only natural to want to introduce it to your favorite people. (You might want to consider a spare bedroom or a sleeper sofa.)

Photo By: Mihailo Milovanovic

Budget Beach Houses? Yes!

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See how these buyers found their oasis by the shore for a steal.

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About the Show

Each week we follow a family making their beachfront living dreams come true — on a budget! We'll follow them on the house hunt as we discover some of the most surprisingly affordable beachfront locales that prove you don't need to be a millionaire to live right on the beach.
Season 2, Episode 5

A Louisiana family scours Johnson Bayou for a real vacation home.

Ron and Charisse need a beach house that is secluded to escape the pressures of owning their own air conditioning company. Realtor Chase White will show them four potential properties along the gulf coast of Johnson Bayou, Louisiana. Will they be able to find that beach vacation feeling, all for under their budget of $150,000?

Tuesday
Oct 28
3pm | 2c
Season 2, Episode 11

A Couples Search for a Boater's Paradise

Rick and Cheryl are seeking a vacation home in the waterfront community of Port Charlotte, Florida. As boating lovers, the key is easy water access. Local real estate agent Jim Benson hopes to help the couple find their ideal destination for less than $350,000. Will this be possible?

Sunday
Nov 9
5:30pm | 4:30c
Season 1, Episode 12

A North Carolina Family Searches For A Family Beach Home.

John and Laura are hunting for a sanctuary on Emerald Isle, NC that will recharge the family's batteries from their draining jobs, school, and activity schedules. Realtor Don Whiteside will show them four potential properties along the blue waters of the Crystal Coast. Will the family find a large enough home that captures the beauty of the aqua waters for their budget of $299,000?

Tuesday
Jan 13
1pm | 12c
Season 6, Episode 12

Beach living on the shores of Barrington, RI.

Having grown up on the beautiful shores of Barrington, RI, Mark Piccerelli is ready to give his daughter, Isabelle, the same beachfront lifestyle he had the privilege of knowing as a child. With a plan in mind and a lengthy wish list, Mark enlists the help of local real estate agent, Carolyn Nolan, to help him find his dream waterfront home near Narragansett Bay for only $315,000.

Monday
Jun 22
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 6, Episode 4

To Buy Beachside or Bayside in South Padre Island, Texas

Chis and Mike live hectic lives in Las Vegas and are looking for a vacation home to unwind on South Padre Island, Texas. Their $245,000 budget will buy them what they need on both the beachside and the bayside of the island, but they become torn over which side will suit their lifestyle better.

Friday
Jul 31
5:30pm | 4:30c
Season 5, Episode 5

Having vacationed on Emerald Isle for years, a couple looks for a getaway of their own there.

Debra and Beau are enjoying life to the fullest now that their three daughters are all grown with families of their own. They love the outdoors and are very active and now all they need is the perfect getaway to enjoy with each other, yet still big enough for when their family visits. Emerald Isle offers a variety of choices, from beachfront to sound front, to single family homes and condos. Luckily for them, local real estate agent, Mac Nelson, joins their search to help them find exactly what they are looking for, all within their budget of $330,000.

Sunday
Aug 23
5pm | 4c
Season 6, Episode 3

Ocean City Dreaming Along the Shores of Maryland

The Raads have busy lives at home in Pennsylvania and are looking for a sandy escape just a hop skip and a jump away. The shores of Ocean City are the perfect spot for a family getaway within driving distance, but Maryland's popular reputation as a seaside destination is driving prices up. Devon and Greg may have to downsize their list of dream features to stay under their $275,000 budget, but real estate agent, Ryan Haley, is along for the ride to make sure they can get all the essentials for some fun in the sun.

Friday
Jun 24
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season 8, Episode 3

A couple from Jersey escapes to beautiful St. Croix.

Bob and Jamila decided to leave the east coast for the sunny shores of beautiful St. Croix where they have been living rent-free as property managers. But when they finally grow tired of their cramped abode, Bob and Jamila find the courage to search St. Croix for a dream home on the water. However, they soon discover that buying an island home can be a little tricky. Luckily, local real estate agent, Yessenia Cruz has a handle on this island market. Her jaw drops when she discovers that Bob and Jamila are only working with a budget of $150,000. If Yessenia can find this couple a home on St. Croix's coveted coast, then Bob and Jamila will experience freedom like never before.

Friday
Jun 24
6pm | 5c
Season 8, Episode 8

Passport to Rio Hato, Panama

Troy Bell fell in love with the sand, sea, and sunshine after his first trip to Florida as a teenager with his parents. After this life changing experience, the native Canadian vowed that when he grew up he was going to move out of rainy Vancouver and into his very own tropical beach house. Now after several trips to Central America, Troy has his sights set on the shores of the Coclé Province of Panama, in the town of Rio Hato. The fabulous sandy beaches, glistening turquoise water, and incomparable climate, are the perfect setting for a seaside sanctuary. With the help of real estate agent and fellow ex-pat, Eldon Spears, Troy hopes to fulfill his beachfront dreams for under $200,000.

Sunday
Aug 14
6pm | 5c
Season 12, Episode 3

Deciding on Dauphin Island, AL

Kellie and Duane have their sights set on a family vacation home on beautiful Dauphin Island, Alabama. With an abundance of budget friendly activities like crabbing, shelling, and biking, the area is perfect for the entire family. Plus, at 14 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, the water is never more than a short walk away. With the help of local real estate agent, Dot Small, Kellie and Duane will search for a seaside home steps from the sand for under $250,000.

Sunday
Aug 28
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 10, Episode 3

No Shirt, No Shoes, Nosara, Costa Rica

Glenn and Linda met through friends, quickly fell in love and have been married for over 20 years. They've vacationed all across the globe and the one place they've really connected with is the small surf town of Nosara, Costa Rica. Glenn and Linda love the active outdoor lifestyle Nosara offers and feel it's time to finally settle down and purchase some beachfront property of their own. Glenn is a licensed real estate agent and he has compiled a variety of homes to show Linda within their budget of $375,000.

Friday
Jan 13
2pm | 1c
Season , Episode

Monday
Jan 30
3am | 2c
Season 13, Episode 12

Off-Season Escape in Avon, North Carolina

Brett and Erica currently live in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, with their two young kids Julianna and Elliot. As a family, they've always loved the quiet beaches of North Carolina, and they've finally saved enough money to consider buying a place of their own in Avon. Since Brett primarily works in the summer, they are looking for something they can rent out during the peak season and enjoy in the winter. With the help of real estate agent April Contestable, they hope to find the perfect off-season escape for under $325,000.

Sunday
Feb 12
8pm | 7c
Season 12, Episode 3

Deciding on Dauphin Island, AL

Kellie and Duane have their sights set on a family vacation home on beautiful Dauphin Island, Alabama. With an abundance of budget friendly activities like crabbing, shelling, and biking, the area is perfect for the entire family. Plus, at 14 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, the water is never more than a short walk away. With the help of local real estate agent, Dot Small, Kellie and Duane will search for a seaside home steps from the sand for under $250,000.

Sunday
Feb 26
8pm | 7c
Season 13, Episode 1

Get Me Back to Panama City Beach, Florida

Tim and Debbie live outside of Dallas, Texas, and have two daughters, Kiwi and Coco. For several years the family enjoyed vacationing in their one-bedroom condo along the picturesque coast of Panama City Beach, Florida. But due to reinvestment needs, Tim and Debbie eventually had to sell the property. While enduring a landlocked summer after the sale, the family noticed a major void in their lives, which could only be filled by spending time together in their favorite beach town. Now, Tim and Debbie return to Panama City Beach with a budget of $340,000, and they hope local real estate agent John Tait can find them a new seaside sanctuary. A place where they can make more memories that will last a lifetime.

Sunday
Feb 26
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 12, Episode 3

Deciding on Dauphin Island, AL

Kellie and Duane have their sights set on a family vacation home on beautiful Dauphin Island, Alabama. With an abundance of budget friendly activities like crabbing, shelling, and biking, the area is perfect for the entire family. Plus, at 14 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, the water is never more than a short walk away. With the help of local real estate agent, Dot Small, Kellie and Duane will search for a seaside home steps from the sand for under $250,000.

Monday
Feb 27
3am | 2c
Season 13, Episode 1

Get Me Back to Panama City Beach, Florida

Tim and Debbie live outside of Dallas, Texas, and have two daughters, Kiwi and Coco. For several years the family enjoyed vacationing in their one-bedroom condo along the picturesque coast of Panama City Beach, Florida. But due to reinvestment needs, Tim and Debbie eventually had to sell the property. While enduring a landlocked summer after the sale, the family noticed a major void in their lives, which could only be filled by spending time together in their favorite beach town. Now, Tim and Debbie return to Panama City Beach with a budget of $340,000, and they hope local real estate agent John Tait can find them a new seaside sanctuary. A place where they can make more memories that will last a lifetime.

Monday
Feb 27
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 14, Episode 5

Savings on Washington's San Juan Islands

Sybil and Travis live and work on the San Juan Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Washington. They previously owned a vacation property in Cabo San Lucas, but making trips to and from Mexico on a regular basis was problematic. Sybil and Travis decided there would be no better place to find a new family getaway than right in their own backyard, so they are looking for a San Juan sanctuary within their firm budget of $375,000.

Sunday
Mar 5
8pm | 7c
Season 14, Episode 6

California Dreamin' in Morro Bay

Paul and Shelly live in Morro Bay, California, and love spending time at the beach. However, they currently live far from the water and are looking to move into a new house within walking distance. With West Coast prices climbing out of reach, they know finding a property within their budget will be tough, but they hope to find the perfect beachfront home right on the water for under $375,000.

Sunday
Mar 5
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 14, Episode 5

Savings on Washington's San Juan Islands

Sybil and Travis live and work on the San Juan Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Washington. They previously owned a vacation property in Cabo San Lucas, but making trips to and from Mexico on a regular basis was problematic. Sybil and Travis decided there would be no better place to find a new family getaway than right in their own backyard, so they are looking for a San Juan sanctuary within their firm budget of $375,000.

Monday
Mar 6
3am | 2c
Season 14, Episode 6

California Dreamin' in Morro Bay

Paul and Shelly live in Morro Bay, California, and love spending time at the beach. However, they currently live far from the water and are looking to move into a new house within walking distance. With West Coast prices climbing out of reach, they know finding a property within their budget will be tough, but they hope to find the perfect beachfront home right on the water for under $375,000.

Monday
Mar 6
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 10, Episode 3

No Shirt, No Shoes, Nosara, Costa Rica

Glenn and Linda met through friends, quickly fell in love and have been married for over 20 years. They've vacationed all across the globe and the one place they've really connected with is the small surf town of Nosara, Costa Rica. Glenn and Linda love the active outdoor lifestyle Nosara offers and feel it's time to finally settle down and purchase some beachfront property of their own. Glenn is a licensed real estate agent and he has compiled a variety of homes to show Linda within their budget of $375,000.

Friday
Mar 10
1pm | 12c
Season 1, Episode 13

A Washington Family Searches for a Beach Home

Chris and Holly have been searching Long Beach Peninsula for eight years in search of a permanent vacation home for them and their daughter Claire. Realtor Char Wolters will show them three potential properties along the 28 miles of uninterrupted beaches in Ocean Park, WA. Will they be able to find a property that surrounds them with ocean views, beach access, and natural beauty for their budget of $295,000?

Friday
Mar 10
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 10, Episode 5

Worry-free on Ambergris Caye, Belize

Jennifer and her father, David, are looking for a beachfront vacation home on Ambergris Caye, Belize. With Jennifer living in Missouri and David in Alberta, Canada, Belize will offer them a place to gather and relax together. With the help of local real estate agent, Brittany McCann, Jennifer and David look to find a sun-soaked fortress for family fun, all for under $375,000.

Friday
Mar 10
2pm | 1c
Season 12, Episode 6

A Beachy View in Branford, CT

April and Robert currently live in Stamford, Connecticut and are looking for a beach home in Branford, Connecticut. Located along the Long Island Sound, this New England town is the perfect place for this couple to unwind after long shifts working as a nurse and paramedic. Plus, moving north to a more affordable county will make it easier to find a property close to the water. With the help of local real estate agent, Vicky Welch, this young couple is searching to scope out a spot with a sea view all for under $350,000.

Friday
Mar 10
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season , Episode

Friday
Mar 10
3pm | 2c

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