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.)

  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.


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.

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

Emerald waters and white sands on the shores of Blue Mountain Beach, FL

Having vacationed on Blue Mountain Beach for almost 20 years, Chrissy and Dino are ready to look for the perfect beach escape on the Florida Panhandle. With big dreams of having emerald water views and quick Gulf shores access, the couple reaches out to local real estate agent, Clayton Bonjean, to help them find their ideal beachfront getaway without busting their budget of $350,000.

Dec 7
7:30pm | 6:30c
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.

Dec 8
12am | 11c
Season 2, Episode 6

A Tampa Family Looks For a Secluded Family Getaway

Greg and Kam want a retreat to escape the family's over-scheduled lives. Realtor Sue Paskert will show them four potential properties on the bridge-less barrier island of Little Gasparilla, Florida. Will they be able to find a beach home that will fit them and the four boys all for under their budget of $375,000?

Mar 13
1pm | 12c
Season 2, Episode 9

A Texas Couple Aims to Find a Beachfront Paradise

For Wayne and Kathleen, it's all about finding a place where they can spread out and escape work with a sun-soaked lifestyle. Real estate agent Margaret Goolsbee hopes to help the couple realize their dream and dig their toes in the sand for a price tag of $350,000 or less.

Jun 9
2pm | 1c
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.

Jul 6
3am | 2c
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.

Jul 31
4pm | 3c
Season 7, Episode 12

Hatteras Holiday on the North Carolina Coast.

Bill and Mary Foyes met on an Internet dating website and quickly discovered their mutual love for North Carolina's Outer Banks, specifically the quaint community of Hatteras Village.  Now, after 11 years of marriage and multiple visits with their daughter, Alicia, they are ready to purchase a permanent vacation home in their favorite seaside sanctuary. With the help of local real estate agent, Dottie Reed, the Foyes' hope to find a beachfront getaway where they build lasting family memories, all for under $175,000.

Aug 17
3am | 2c
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.

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.

Apr 3
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 11, Episode 8

Shuckin' It Up in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

Michael and Margaret are from Putnam Valley, New York and have three daughters, Kaitlyn, Madelyn, and Victoria. While searching for the perfect vacation destination, they visited every beach in North Carolina before finally settling on Ocean Isle Beach. With the help of real estate agent, Laura Hewett, they hope to find the perfect beachfront house for under $375,000.

Aug 1
3:30am | 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.

Aug 14
3:30pm | 2:30c
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.

Sep 18
6pm | 5c
Season 1, Episode 2

A Florida Couple Searches for Their First Home Right on the Beach

Newly engaged Florida natives Lauren and Erik are searching for their first home together. They've grown up near the beach, and now they hope to find a bargain on Clearwater beach. But with a first-home buyers budget, finding a single-family home within steps of the sand, is no easy task. Realtor, Mike Godwin shows them three great beachfront deals.

Nov 10
7:30am | 6:30c

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