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.)

Tags: 
  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 4, Episode 8

An hacienda on Mexico's island of Isla Mujeres.

After 11 years of vacationing in Mexico, Ashley and Todd look to find a second home on the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres. With a tricky wish list and limited island inventory, the couple looks to real estate agent, Jim Botaish, to help navigate them through the house hunting process.

Wednesday
Dec 24
4:30pm | 3:30c
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.

Monday
Feb 9
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 4, Episode 10

Bargain Hunting Pismo Beach, CA

Anthony and Hun need a sunny beach home. Real Estate Agent Mikey Hahn 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 $375,000.

Tuesday
Feb 17
5pm | 4c
Season 5, Episode 1

Texas living on the shores of Crystal Beach.

Rebecca and John have been vacationing in Crystal Beach, TX since they were in high school. Having always dreamed of owning a home on the Texas coast, the couple is finally ready to find the perfect beach home all for under $275,000. With dueling budgets, the couple looks to local real estate agent, Luz Gray, to help them find a vacation haven.

Sunday
Apr 5
3:30pm | 2:30c
Season 4, Episode 4

Bound to Buy in 'Bama

Ken and Rhonda are decided on eventually making the beaches of Alabama their home but whether or not to buy-in now is up for debate. Eager to get his toes in the sand sooner rather than later, Ken enlists the help of Real Estate Agent, Joy Sullivan, to aid in finding the perfect property for under $250,000 that will sway Rhonda to take the purchase plunge now, two years earlier than planned.

Tuesday
May 12
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.

Monday
Sep 21
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 9, Episode 6

The Value Of Friendship In Manta

Mitch and Randee are newlyweds from Palmer, Alaska, and their blended family consists of five children. Enduring bitter winters her entire life, Randee has always fantasized about finding a tropical vacation getaway for her family. Luckily her childhood friend, Garrett, moved down and opened a real estate company with his father in the pacific coast community of Manta, Ecuador. After chatting over the phone and social media, Garrett opened both Mitch and Randee's eyes to the endless oceanfront possibilities of Ecuador. With his help they hope to achieve Randee's life long dream and find a South American sanctuary for $250,000 or less.

Sunday
Jan 31
8:30pm | 7:30c
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.

Thursday
Feb 11
5:30pm | 4:30c
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.

Friday
Apr 8
9am | 8c
Season 10, Episode 8

Maintenance Free In Siesta Key, Florida

Ed and Kerri are from Western Pennsylvania and have two young daughters, Tea and Sage. They are looking for a place to get away from the cold, busy lifestyles they live up north. They fell in love with Siesta Key, Florida years ago while bouncing from beach to beach and are hoping to purchase a condo that they can use a couple times a year and rent out when they aren't using it. With the help of real estate agent, Beth Dilley, they hope to find the perfect beachfront for only $325,000.

Sunday
Jul 3
5pm | 4c
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.

Monday
Jul 25
3am | 2c
Season 11, Episode 12

A Newlywed Life on North Padre Island, Texas

Bill and Droxine have been together for three years, but have never lived in the same city. Bill resides in Austin, Texas, while Droxine and the two boys live almost four hours away on beautiful North Padre Island. Located within the city limits of Corpus Christi, the island provides numerous beach activities with a vacation lifestyle perfect for their family of four. Local real estate agent, Shannon Bumstead, will help this newlywed couple start their life together by aiding in the search for the waterfront home of their dreams, all for under $375,000.

Sunday
Aug 14
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 8, Episode 2

A young couple yearns for a new life in beautiful St. Croix.

Matt and Liz, a young couple from Pittsburgh, found each other by fate, but hardly have time for one another. Fed up with living in a crowded downtown Pittsburgh environment, they pack their bags for the openness of beautiful St. Croix. But upon their arrival, they discover they have not the slightest clue on how to navigate the island. If local real estate agent, Kim Lucas, can find a charming home with incredible sweeping views of the coral blue water for under $300,000, then Matt and Liz will begin the next chapter in their storybook romance.

Friday
Dec 16
3:30pm | 2:30c
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.

Sunday
Feb 19
8pm | 7c
Season 14, Episode 7

Making More Memories in Manahawkin, New Jersey

Danielle, Michelle and Mike grew up renting summer houses with their family in Manahawkin, New Jersey. As a gateway to the resort destination of Long Beach Island, Manahawkin has a residential feel with close proximity to an area booming with family fun. With Danielle living in Boston and Michelle and Mike living in Northern New Jersey, the shore is the perfect place for these siblings to get together, return to their childhood roots and find a family vacation home for under $350,000.

Sunday
Feb 19
8:30pm | 7:30c
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
Feb 20
3am | 2c
Season 14, Episode 7

Making More Memories in Manahawkin, New Jersey

Danielle, Michelle and Mike grew up renting summer houses with their family in Manahawkin, New Jersey. As a gateway to the resort destination of Long Beach Island, Manahawkin has a residential feel with close proximity to an area booming with family fun. With Danielle living in Boston and Michelle and Mike living in Northern New Jersey, the shore is the perfect place for these siblings to get together, return to their childhood roots and find a family vacation home for under $350,000.

Monday
Feb 20
3:30am | 2:30c
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.

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

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