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 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
Sunday
Dec 28
9:30pm | 8:30c
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 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 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 13

Yearnin' for Chuburna Puerto, Mexico

Baphu and Christine have known each other since they were in elementary school. During a game of spin the bottle, Christine even became Baphu's first kiss. As teenagers they moved away and drifted apart before reconnecting several years later. Now with four kids and one on the way, they're looking for a weekend getaway, a refuge where they can relax and enjoy spending time together as a family. After moving from Canada to Merida, Mexico, Baphu and Christine have set their beachfront sights on the quaint nearby fishing village, Chuburna Puerto. While they both agree that living on the beach is top priority, Christine is willing to break the bank for the home of her dreams while Baphu wants to stick to their budget of $200,000.

Friday
Oct 16
6pm | 5c
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 11

Hunting for a Hidden Gem on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Jim and Melissa are from Hunt Valley, Maryland, and have two daughters, Ariette and Aubriel. They own and operate a catering company that requires working grueling 20-hour days and combined with the girl's hectic schedules, it's tough for them to find time to spend together as a family. But one benefit of the catering industry is the off-season, which allows Jim and Melissa to have a few months of downtime each year. They've decided the best way to optimize these breaks would be with the purchase of a beachfront vacation home on the private, resort island of Hilton Head, in South Carolina. With the help of local real estate agent, Tammy Moody, Jim and Melissa hope to find a peaceful sanctuary in the sand for under $275,000.

Monday
Aug 15
3am | 2c
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 10, Episode 12

Gettin' Away to Galveston, TX

Celeste and Dustin work in separate cities during the week and spend weekends together at their home in Beaumont, Texas. With such hectic schedules, they are looking for a beachfront retreat where they can spend quality time among the surf and sand. Set on 32 miles of relaxing beaches and only a few miles from the mainland, Galveston is the perfect island escape for these busy Texans. With the help of local real estate agent, Barbara Zimmerman, this couple hopes to find a beachfront bungalow where they can get lost in island life for under $350,000.

Friday
Dec 9
1pm | 12c
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.

Friday
Dec 9
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 10, Episode 2

Placencia: It's un-BELIZE-able

Dave and Laura are from Cleveland, Ohio and have been married for 5 years. They are both tired of the cold Midwest winters and are looking for a place where they can be outside more than two months out of the year. They are looking for a home, but also a location with room for a beachfront business. They love Belize and feel like this is the perfect time to make the move. With the help of real estate agent, Chris Appelbe, they hope to find the perfect beachfront property for only $350,000.

Friday
Dec 9
2pm | 1c
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.

Friday
Dec 9
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season , Episode

Friday
Dec 9
3pm | 2c
Season , Episode

Friday
Dec 9
3:30pm | 2:30c
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.

Friday
Dec 9
4pm | 3c
Season 12, Episode 2

A Place in the Pines of Lincoln City, OR

Jeana and Eric live busy lives with their two daughters in Highland, Utah. After a trip down the Pacific Coast they fell in love with Lincoln City, Oregon and are looking to purchase a vacation home amongst the pine trees and rocky cliffs. Only a half-day trip from Utah, Jeana, Eric, and their daughters love the unique beaches of this Pacific Northwest location. They are hoping to find a beach home that offers relaxation, but also brings in revenue through renting. With the help of local real estate agent, Feather Hryczyk, this family of four is setting their sights on a family vacation home for under $299,000.

Friday
Dec 9
4:30pm | 3:30c
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
Dec 9
5pm | 4c
Season 12, Episode 8

Craving a Condo in Cocoa Beach, Florida

Jim and Tina have been visiting Cocoa Beach, Florida for the past ten years. The area has provided them with a lot of special memories and it's even where they got engaged. With so many special times on these sands, they'd rather not stray, so they're on the hunt for a vacation home. Only an hour from their home in Winter Garden, Florida, Cocoa Beach is close enough to be convenient, but far enough away to feel like vacation. Jim and Tina agree that this is the perfect place for them, but they don't agree on the price. Jim is comfortable spending whatever it takes to find the home of their dreams, while Tina would like to keep costs low. Local real estate agent, Jackie Griffin, will help this couple search to find a seaside condo for under $350,000.

Friday
Dec 9
5:30pm | 4:30c
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.

Friday
Dec 9
6pm | 5c
Season 9, Episode 8

Caribbean Dreamin' in the Great White North

Chris and Amanda are a young couple from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who first met during an evening of dancing at a nightclub. While getting to know each other, Amanda revealed her aspirations of someday owning a beachfront vacation property. Chris thought it was a brilliant idea, especially since winters in the great white north can last between six and eight months. After researching a variety of tropical locations, they're concentrating their search on the sun-drenched shores of Isabela, Puerto Rico. Chris and Amanda both want an ocean view, with access to the water for $320,000 or less. While Chris is a spender and Amanda a saver, they are at odds over sticking to their budget when finding the seaside home of their dreams.

Friday
Dec 9
6:30pm | 5:30c
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

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