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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Beachfront Bargain Hunt Full Episodes 13 Videos

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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 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.

Sunday
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.

Monday
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?

Friday
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.

Tuesday
Jun 9
2pm | 1c
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.

Monday
Aug 17
3am | 2c
Season 6, Episode 5

The Maine Idea is to Relax in Old Orchard Beach

As a Rhode Island resident, Greg has been enjoying the shores of New England since his childhood, and has decided now is the perfect time to share the seaside of Old Orchard Beach with his young daughter, Isabelle. New to the Maine market, Greg and his girlfriend, Christina are enlisting the help of local real estate agent, Nancy Moreshead to land an oceanfront getaway to make lasting memories all for under $200.000.

Tuesday
Sep 8
5:30pm | 4:30c
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
Apr 3
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 8, Episode 11

My Heart-a Belongs to Puerto Vallarta

Linda and Mike live in Vancouver, Canada, and have been married for 19 years. They first vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on their honeymoon and quickly fell in love with the city's tropical beach lifestyle and rich culture. Linda and Mike continued to visit numerous times over the years and found that each trip became longer and longer. Now they've decided it's time to ditch the hotel reservations and travel itineraries and find a beachfront oasis they can visit whenever they need to get away. They've enlisted real estate agent, Josie Gonzalez, to help secure a seaside refuge for under $300,000.

Monday
May 30
8am | 7c
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.

Sunday
Sep 18
6pm | 5c
Season 12, Episode 11

All in for Gulf Shores, Alabama

Kim and her two daughters, Jen and Melissa, have been going on vacation to the beach for as long as they can remember. After years of renting, they are ready to combine resources and invest in a beach home for their three families in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Just across the border from Florida, this small town boasts white sandy beaches and southern hospitality, making it the perfect vacation location for these Ohio natives. With the help of local real estate agent, Jim Bailey, this mother-daughter trio will search for a seaside home for the entire family, all for under $350,000.

Monday
Sep 26
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 8, Episode 5

Ethereal Eleuthera Experience

Rick and Cathie are from Long Island, New York and have been married for 17 years. They first vacationed in the Bahamas while they were dating and quickly fell in love with the glorious climate and magnificent beaches. Now between running a family business and taking care of their two children, life at home has become very busy. Rick and Cathie hope to find a beachfront getaway, a place where they can relax and reconnect as a family. While they both agree the Bahamas would be the perfect place, Rick would prefer to find a sea side sanctuary on the tranquil island of Eleuthera as opposed to bustling Nassau. Cathie's going to need some convincing because she's not sure the remote lifestyle is for her. With the help of real estate agent Brian Hanna, Rick and Cathie hope to get on the same page and find a beachfront oasis they both can enjoy for under $375,000.

Friday
Dec 16
1:30pm | 12:30c
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 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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