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 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.

Monday
Nov 17
12:30am | 11:30c
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.

Sunday
Dec 7
9pm | 8c
Season 4, Episode 9

Dustin and his sister explore Cabo to find a beachfront home that his pregnant wife will approve of.

Dustin is a father of three with a baby on the way. Unable to take his expecting wife with him to Mexico, Dustin enlists the help of his sister, Brittany, to be the female voice of reason to find the perfect vacation home for his growing family. With the help of local real estate agent, Nick Fong, they explore the coast of beautiful Cabo San Lucas in hopes to find the perfect family vacation home for under $300,000.

Thursday
Dec 25
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season 6, Episode 13

Living in flip flops on Fripp Island, SC.

Debbie has vacationed with her two daughters on Fripp Island, SC for over eight years. Ready for a lifestyle, Debbie decides to turn her favorite vacation spot into her full time home. With a budget of $299,000, she enlists the help of local real estate agent, Karen Naloti, to help her find the home she's always dreamed of.

Monday
Feb 16
3:30am | 2:30c
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 5, Episode 13

Paradise on the Pacific in Long Beach, Washington

The Moss family is looking to buy their dream vacation home on the sands of Long Beach, Washington. They're aiming to get the most bang for their buck within their budget of $325,000 and enlist the help of real estate agent, Leslie Brophy, to see just how much of the whitewater views their bank account can support.

Sunday
Apr 5
7:30pm | 6:30c
Season 4, Episode 7

A Mexican retreat on the Pacific Coastline

After years of vacationing in Mexico, Robbie and Shawn look to find a second home near their favorite beach town of Bucerias. With a lengthy wish list and two very different budgets, the couple realizes they need the help of a real estate agent to facilitate the house hunting process. Jeff Bates is up to the challenge but it will be difficult to make Robbie and Shawn's big dreams come true.

Tuesday
Apr 14
5:30pm | 4:30c
Season 5, Episode 7

A Jersey couple search the enclosed beach community of Pt. Pleasant, NJ for a child-friendly home.

Truly an energetic match made in heaven, a couple and their darling toddler son retreat to the beaches of Point Pleasant in order to find the perfect house near the sand. But with child safety, parking, and of course being close to the water being must-haves, a local real estate pro has his work cut out for him. If he is able to get this Jersey family everything on this growing list, life will be great for everyone. With strange neighbors, a community with only sidewalks, and a budget of 360,000 dollars, getting the perfect beach house may prove to be a challenge.

Friday
Jul 31
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 5, Episode 12

With personal taste in mind, a family's happiness is found on the secluded waterways of Sargent, TX

A husband, wife and their teenager son yearn for a lifestyle on the open waterways. With Sargent, TX being a stone's throw from home, having access to the water could be effortless. Only their individual likes stand in the way in what could be beachfront bliss. A tall order is handed to a local no nonsense real estate agent, Linda Jisha. If she's able to find viable options, this family trio must somehow agree on a home to make their dreams come true. She helps them to navigate their way through the coastal waterways with their tight budget of 150,000 thousand dollars.

Sunday
Aug 23
3:30pm | 2:30c
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.

Tuesday
Sep 8
2pm | 1c
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 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.

Friday
May 27
2:30pm | 1:30c
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
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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