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

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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 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 11

A Woman Bargains for Luxury with a Waterfront View

Tania has lived all over the world, from London to Peru, and most recently Germany. Since she relocated to Miami for her career, Tania feels like she's on permanent vacation. Real Estate Agent, Alexandra Rutten, will show Tania four potential properties in hot hot hot Miami Florida. Alexandra is trying to find a luxury building for her best friend on a bargain budget before Tania's lease expires. Watch them cruise the beaches of Miami looking for a state of the art building with ocean views all for under $300,000.

Monday
Dec 8
12am | 11c
Season 6, Episode 11

Searching the Sandy Shores of Big Texas for an Island Getaway on a Little Budget.

Scott and Trudy have been saving for years to buy their dream family vacation home on the shores of South Padre Island. Finally ready to make the leap, they're searching for a place in the sand for both family and renters to enjoy. In a multi-million dollar market with a budget of only $250,000, the Bristers are hoping not everything has to be bigger in Texas.

Friday
Jul 31
4pm | 3c
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 7, Episode 5

Giddy to Find a Beachfront Home in Ocean City

Caitlin and Peter are from Baltimore, and have been married for almost 3 years. Long before they met and fell in love in college, they both fell for the coastal resort town of Ocean City, Maryland. The glistening beaches, sensational restaurants and wide array of water sports drew each of their families to this area as vacationers for years. Now that Caitlin and Peter are married and have begun their own life together, they want a their own waterfront escape in their favorite seaside metropolis. They're looking for a home that not only fits their current lifestyle but a place where they can accommodate both their families and eventual children. With the help of real estate agent, Eric Green, they hope to find a beachfront haven for under $350,000.

Thursday
Jan 28
6:30pm | 5:30c
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 11, Episode 9

Fleeing Chicago, Illinois for St. Croix

Ania and Kyle have been married for seven years and have two young children, Maya and Niko. Between raising the kids and operating a thriving mortgage company outside their hometown of Chicago, they've rarely been able to escape for a family vacation. But when the opportunity presented itself, they managed to visit the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix and quickly fell in love with its tranquil vibes and picturesque setting. After this life changing experience, Ania and Kyle decide to make this a regular occurrence and feel the purchase of their very own St. Croix beach house would be the perfect way to ensure future family getaways continue. With the help of local real estate agent, David Fedeles, they hope to find a pristine slice of sandy paradise for $375,000 or less.

Monday
Aug 8
3am | 2c
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 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.

Friday
Dec 9
7pm | 6c
Season 11, Episode 5

Turn Me On to San Juan, Puerto Rico

Joe and Leo were house hunting in their current city of New York, but due to the high prices and limited space, they have decided to change their plans and invest in a vacation property in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They would love a home with spectacular ocean views, within close proximity to the beach. Although their budget of $350,000 might go a little further in San Juan, Joe and Leo aren't sure if finding a home for that price might be a little too ambitious. With the help of local real estate agent, Brian Aronson, they hope to find their very own affordable slice of paradise.

Friday
Feb 3
2pm | 1c
Season 12, Episode 9

Satisfaction in Sargent, Texas

Michael, Kami, and their three daughters currently live in Katy, Texas and are looking to find a beach getaway in Sargent, Texas. Located just 75 miles from Houston with access to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico, this coastal community is one of Texas's best-kept secrets. While Michael and Kami agree on a vacation home in Sargent, they are at odds over what's most important-- access to fishing or the beach. Michael has a lifelong dream of fishing in his backyard, while Kami craves the beach. With the help of local real estate agent, Joanne Hogan, this family of five will search for a spot to satisfy their seaside needs, all for under $150,000.

Friday
Feb 3
7:30pm | 6:30c
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 14, Episode 8

Quest for the Best of Westerly, Rhode Island

Catherine and Andrea live in Meriden, Connecticut, and are soon to be married. But before they walk down the aisle, they're hoping to find a weekend getaway in the coastal community of Westerly, Rhode Island. Catherine spent her childhood vacationing along the shores of Westerly and feels there would be no better place to relax and unwind after a busy week. Andrea loves the idea of a beach house but isn't so sure they'll be able to find a property within their budget of $375,000, so they enlist the help of a local real estate agent to aid in their search for an affordable seaside retreat.

Sunday
Mar 26
8:30pm | 7:30c
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
May 28
9pm | 8c
Season 13, Episode 6

Family Retreat in St. Thomas

Rob and Sara live in Ohio with their two sons. A few years ago when Sara and Rob renewed their vows on the US Virgin Islands, Rob flew Sara's parents down and they all fell in love with St. Thomas. What started as a casual conversation to all buy a house together soon became a mission, and now they're determined to find the perfect family retreat for under $325,000.

Sunday
May 28
9:30pm | 8:30c
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
May 29
12am | 11c
Season 13, Episode 6

Family Retreat in St. Thomas

Rob and Sara live in Ohio with their two sons. A few years ago when Sara and Rob renewed their vows on the US Virgin Islands, Rob flew Sara's parents down and they all fell in love with St. Thomas. What started as a casual conversation to all buy a house together soon became a mission, and now they're determined to find the perfect family retreat for under $325,000.

Monday
May 29
12:30am | 11:30c
Season , Episode

Monday
May 29
7am | 6c
Season 12, Episode 13

Small Living on the Puget Sound, WA

After a cross-country road trip with her husband, Andy, Katie fell in love with the rough and tumble beaches of Washington's Puget Sound. Traveling with everything they needed in the back of the car, they realized that tiny living was enjoyable and could open up their possibilities of owning the beachfront property of their dreams. Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Washington, the area provides endless shoreline, wildlife around every corner, and is perfect for their outdoor lifestyle. With Andy away for work and Katie's son at school, it's the perfect time for a girls' trip with her daughter, Caroline, to search for a small sanctuary on the sands of the Puget Sound. With the help of local real estate agent, Susan Henry, this pair will look to avoid paying a small fortune and take a big leap toward a tiny house for under $375,000.

Monday
May 29
7:30am | 6:30c
Season 9, Episode 13

All in for Agana Beach, Guam

Jitka is ready to leave behind her single-family home for a more manageable residence on Agana Beach in Guam. With less housework to do, Jitka and her six children will be able to fully enjoy the natural beauties that Guam offers- scenic cliffs, green hills, waterfalls and beautiful beaches. Local real estate agent, Norma Del Carmen, will help Jitka shake off high prices and say 'Hafa Adai' to an oceanfront home for under $350,000.

Monday
May 29
8am | 7c
Season 13, Episode 13

Taking Flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Johanna and Andy live in North Carolina, and while they love the laid-back lifestyle of the Outer Banks, it lacks many of the conveniences of a year-round residence. As their son Charlie grows, they've decided that they're ready to purchase a permanent beach home in Kitty Hawk. As a real estate team in the area for over five years, Johanna and Andy will search for a home on the historic sands of Kitty Hawk for under $350,000.

Monday
May 29
8:30am | 7:30c
Season , Episode

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Monday
May 29
9am | 8c
Season 9, Episode 2

A Crucial Life Change In Crucita

Dave has spent most of his life dedicated to the Canadian telecommunications industry. Constantly working sixteen-hour days, nearly to seven days a week, there's no time for him to slow down and relax. After reevaluating his situation Dave has decided to ditch his intense, fast paced lifestyle and find an oceanfront retreat where he can throttle down and find some peace and tranquility. While exploring the shores of Ecuador, Dave found a beautiful beach in the remote fishing village of Crucita. He loves that it's an authentic South American town, yet has restaurants and shops nearby. His budget is $100,000, which is a low number for a house on the coastline, but he hopes his real estate agent, Tom Saunders will help him find the perfect place to settle down, without having to sacrifice too much.

Monday
May 29
9:30am | 8:30c
Season 14, Episode 1

Why Not Move to Warwick?

Aman and Kevin are native Rhode Islanders living in Narragansett. They have grown tired of renting and are ready to move more centrally within the Ocean State to access their family, work and favorite activities. Conveniently located within the heart of Rhode Island, Warwick boasts 39 miles of coastline and eight beaches while providing easy access to city life in Providence or seaside life in Narragansett. Will this couple find their first home on New England waters, all for under $215,000?

Monday
May 29
10am | 9c
Season 14, Episode 13

Making a Splash in Ocean City, Maryland

Andrew and Erin are from Phoenix, Maryland, and have two daughters. With all the kid-friendly attractions Ocean City has to offer, they decide it would be the ideal place to spend some quality family time together. With a boat in tow, they hope to find a place right on the water for under $325,000.

Monday
May 29
10:30am | 9:30c
Season 10, Episode 1

Hiding Away in Jaco, Costa Rica

Hayes and Paola are relocating from Panama to the Dominican Republic and are looking for a casa on the cinnamon colored sands of Jaco, Costa Rica. With Paola's family an hour and a half away in San Jose, Jaco is the perfect location for a central family vacation house. With the help of local real estate agent, Sergio Gonzalez, Hayes and Paola look to find a seafront spot to siesta for under $220,000.

Monday
May 29
11am | 10c

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