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 3

A Florida Couple Hopes to Find the Perfect Beachfront Getaway

Mike and Sandy Wieber are workaholics who spend most of their time running a bed and breakfast in America's oldest city, St. Augustine. With help from real estate agent Ryan Ford, the couple wishes to find a second home where they can quickly escape the rigors of the work grind for a weekend in paradise. They hope to accomplish this feat for under $350,000.

Tuesday
Oct 28
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 4, Episode 13

A family of five searches for a beachfront home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

John and Dana have been vacationing with their three children in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for as long as they can remember. They enjoy their family beach time so much that they are looking to buy a vacation home on the shore of Myrtle Beach so that they no longer have to rent. But finding a property big enough for their family of five is no easy task. The Duckros enlist the help of local real estate agent, Ed O'Donovan, to help make their beachfront dream home a reality.

Sunday
Dec 7
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 3, Episode 8

First Time Bargain Hunting on St. Thomas

David and Tiffany met, fell in love, and started their family on the gorgeous island of St. Thomas. They want a home they can put their own touch on for under their budget of $350,000. Real Estate Agent, Kerstin McConnell, will show them four potential properties along the aqua waters of St. Thomas.

Tuesday
Jan 13
6pm | 5c
Season 5, Episode 8

A home to grow in Nags Head, NC

Mary and Jason grew up spending their summers by the beach in Nags Head, NC. Fond of all their childhood memories, the couple wants to give their three sons the same unforgettable summers. With the help of local real estate agent, Randy Nance, the couple begins the search in hopes of finding a vacation home right on the sand, all for under $325,000.

Sunday
Jan 18
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 7, Episode 1

Don't Top the Budget on Topsail Island, NC

Jennifer and Ryan are searching for a vacation home off the coast of North Carolina, but Ryan has his heart set on a stand-alone home for his family to make memories. In the condo heavy market on Topsail Island, finding a house with an ocean view for under $150,000 will be tricky, but hopefully with the help of real estate agent, Jason Hyde, Jennifer can convince Ryan the value of a beachfront condo instead.

Monday
Jul 6
3am | 2c
Season 7, Episode 9

In the twinkling of her eyes, a woman brings her hopes of living beachfront to Amelia Island, FL

With a personality as big as her heart, Beverly seeks ocean, sand and serenity in a beachfront home on Amelia Island. But there is no way that her son and daughter-in-law will allow her to take on such a task by herself. Luckily, talks with a local real estate agent have already produced some great options. If this agent can lock in on Beverly's truest desires for a beachfront home, while staying under her budget of $350,000, then happiness on Amelia Island will be a stone's throw away.

Monday
Aug 3
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 8, Episode 4

She Wares It Well

Experience and wisdom shall not take a back seat as a mother insists on guiding her daughter on an amazing search of a lifetime. Young Heather Klein and her affinity for outdoor beach living is finally ready to buy a home on the Jersey shore, but her intuition says, "Wait". Expert real estate agent, Frank Tenner, must now satisfy the wishes of this mom and daughter duo while staying under a budget of $300,000. If Frank is successful, then Heather may just find the independence that she has been seeking.

Monday
Aug 24
3:30am | 2:30c
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
Jan 17
6:30pm | 5:30c
Season 4, Episode 12

Bargain Hunting Puerto Vallarta

Brad and Scott are in love with the cultural atmosphere of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Real Estate Agent John Swanson will show them four potential properties. Come along as they search for a beach home with lots of space that's steps from the beach all for under their budget of $275,000.

Friday
Mar 4
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 9, Episode 5

Swooning for Tamuning, Guam

Eight years ago Robert moved from Los Angeles, California, to the small Pacific island of Guam. He currently resides inland, in the town of Dededo and commutes six miles to his job in Tamuning. But due to the high volume of traffic on the island, the drive can last up to one hour each way. Tired of dealing with his inconvenient proximity to both his job as well as Guam's beautiful beaches, Robert will enlist the help of real estate agent, Norma Del Carmen, who can hopefully find him an oceanfront condo in the town of Tamuning for $225,000 or less.

Sunday
Jun 5
6pm | 5c
Season 9, Episode 7

Opening Up Shop in San Jacinto, Ecuador

Working in the travel industry has provided Marty and Jim a ticket around the world and an education in hospitality. They've learned that expectations are high and are looking to live up to them by opening their own bed and breakfast in San Jacinto, Ecuador. Finding a home to live and work in won't be easy, but with the help of real estate agent, Tom Saunders, Marty and Jim are searching for a spot on the sand to make their own, all for under $200,000.

Sunday
Aug 14
3:30pm | 2:30c
Season 9, Episode 7

Opening Up Shop in San Jacinto, Ecuador

Working in the travel industry has provided Marty and Jim a ticket around the world and an education in hospitality. They've learned that expectations are high and are looking to live up to them by opening their own bed and breakfast in San Jacinto, Ecuador. Finding a home to live and work in won't be easy, but with the help of real estate agent, Tom Saunders, Marty and Jim are searching for a spot on the sand to make their own, all for under $200,000.

Saturday
Jul 15
3:30pm | 2:30c
Season 15, Episode 12

Wave of Savings in Surfside Beach, Texas

Going on vacation once a year is difficult to schedule and extremely expensive for Chris, Lesli and their four children. Chris and Lesli want a vacation property close to their Houston, Texas, home and think having an affordable retreat in the Gulf Coast community of Surfside Beach, Texas, is perfect. With the help of a local agent, the couple hopes to find their ideal waterfront oasis for $250,000 or less.

Saturday
Jul 22
12:30am | 11:30c
Season 15, Episode 8

At Home in Hampton Beach

Chris and Rowena live in East Kingston, New Hampshire, with their three children. They love Hampton Beach and all the great family attractions that it offers, but they're tired of sitting in traffic during the commute. Owning a beachfront place of their own will give them more time to spend together as a family, so they're shopping for the perfect beachfront condo for under $400,000.

Friday
Sep 29
8pm | 7c
Season 14, Episode 9

Returning to Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Mark and Josephine live in San Francisco, California, along with Josephine's 14-year-old daughter, Ibby. After coming to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, for their engagement, they immediately fell in love with the location. For Josephine, it reminds her of growing up in the Philippines, and she wants to share that experience with her daughter. With the help of a real estate agent, they hope to find the perfect tropical retreat for under $350,000.

Friday
Sep 29
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season , Episode

Friday
Sep 29
9pm | 8c
Season , Episode

Friday
Sep 29
9:30pm | 8:30c
Season , Episode

Saturday
Sep 30
12am | 11c
Season , Episode

Saturday
Sep 30
12:30am | 11:30c
Season 15, Episode 8

At Home in Hampton Beach

Chris and Rowena live in East Kingston, New Hampshire, with their three children. They love Hampton Beach and all the great family attractions that it offers, but they're tired of sitting in traffic during the commute. Owning a beachfront place of their own will give them more time to spend together as a family, so they're shopping for the perfect beachfront condo for under $400,000.

Saturday
Sep 30
3am | 2c
Season 14, Episode 9

Returning to Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Mark and Josephine live in San Francisco, California, along with Josephine's 14-year-old daughter, Ibby. After coming to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, for their engagement, they immediately fell in love with the location. For Josephine, it reminds her of growing up in the Philippines, and she wants to share that experience with her daughter. With the help of a real estate agent, they hope to find the perfect tropical retreat for under $350,000.

Saturday
Sep 30
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 16, Episode 12

Headed Back to Pensacola Beach, Florida

A couple gets a jump-start on their family vacations by buying a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in beautiful Pensacola Beach, FL. They both have wonderful childhood memories of visiting the area and want their two children to have the same positive experience in their own vacation home. Will the family find the perfect beachfront condo for quality family time like they've envisioned?

Friday
Oct 6
8pm | 7c
Season 15, Episode 13

Back Again at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

Jonathan and Riley are high school sweethearts who grew up together in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. They've since moved away but frequently return with their two kids in tow to visit family and friends. The couple wants their children to enjoy the same beach lifestyle they had growing up, so they hope to find the perfect waterfront retreat in their hometown for under $370,000.

Friday
Oct 6
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season , Episode

Friday
Oct 6
9pm | 8c
Season , Episode

Friday
Oct 6
9:30pm | 8:30c
Season , Episode

Saturday
Oct 7
12am | 11c

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