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

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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Dreaming of a beach getaway? See how these savvy Beachfront Bargain Hunt buyers found their dream property for less.

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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 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.

Feb 28
6pm | 5c
Season 1, Episode 3

Brother And Sister Search for a Family Vacation House

Alan and Jodi are searching for a second home on the celebrity sands of the Hamptons that promotes the tradition of their family beach vacations. Realtor Justin Agnello shows them three potential properties in the Hamptons. Will they be able to find a home on the water that suits the needs of the extended family for their $375,000 budget?

Jul 5
1pm | 12c
Season 7, Episode 2

An Akumal Adventure on Half Moon Bay

Todd and Jenny are avid snorkelers who love to float through the waters of Akumal's Half Moon Bay. They are setting their sights on purchasing a condo on the sandy shores without sinking their $250,000 budget.

Jul 5
8:30pm | 7:30c
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.

Jul 12
12:30pm | 11:30c
Season 7, Episode 3

Northern Beach Retreat on the Outer Banks

Scott and Tamera Forshaw are from Richmond, Virginia, and have been married for 30 years. Ever since they first met, their favorite vacation destination has been the magnificent, unspoiled, Northern Beaches of the Outer Banks. With day-to-day life at home being very busy, both Tami and Scott want to find a beachfront getaway where they can relax and spend quality time with loved ones. They both agree that the beaches along the North Carolina coast would be the perfect place to build lasting family memories. With the help of real estate agent, Kelly Dean, the Forshaws hope to find a beachfront retreat for under $300,000.

Jul 31
5pm | 4c
Season 3, Episode 12

A little Latin retreat on Puerto Rico's island of Vieques.

Mathias and Monica love unwinding on the Caribbean's exotic white sand beaches. With a mutual love for the ocean and Monica's connection to the Latin culture, the couple decides to find a second home on Puerto Rico's island of Vieques. They look to local real estate agent, Thom Denton, to hunt down the ideal vacation home for only $350,000.

Sep 8
4:30pm | 3:30c
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.

Dec 16
5pm | 4c
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.

Dec 25
7pm | 6c
Season 10, Episode 13

A Future on Fripp Island, South Carolina

Todd and Kristy have been married for over four years and are expecting their first child in just a few months. Between their hectic workweeks and constant preparation for the baby, it's hard for them to find time to unwind. In an effort to ensure they'll have a break from the daily stresses of life, they've decided to scour the remote shores of Fripp Island, in search of a vacation home. Just a short drive from their hometown of Bluffton, South Carolina, Fripp Island offers a laid back coastal vibe, the ideal setting for a weekend getaway. Shopping with a strict budget of $350,000 they're not exactly sure what type of property they'll be able to afford but they're hoping real estate agent, Wayne Zerler, can find them a house right on the water.

Jan 13
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season , Episode

Mar 10
4pm | 3c
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.

Apr 28
7:30pm | 6:30c
Season 13, Episode 2

Destin-ed for Family Fun in Florida

Life in the suburbs of Atlanta is busy for Melissa, David and their two children Emma and Grayson. With David working long hours and in school to get his MBA, the family is looking for a place to get away and relax on the weekend. Melissa and David have long admired Destin, Florida's white, sugary beaches and are ready to purchase a beachfront home on its sands. Locals refer to Destin as 'The World's Luckiest Fishing Village' and David is excited to give their children the opportunity to fish as often as he did while growing up in South Florida. With home prices along the crystal-clear waters piling over $10 million, this family of four will turn to local real estate agent Wanda Greer to steer clear of high prices and find a family-friendly fortress for under $199,000.

May 11
5pm | 4c
Season 16, Episode 10

Investing in Paradise on Panama City Beach, Florida

A large blended family shops for a vacation home in Panama City Beach, FL. The family visits the area frequently and enjoys its luxurious white sands, rolling emerald waves and the fact that the tropical-feeling vacation area is only six hours from their homes in Georgia and Alabama. Aside from the picturesque natural beauty, the family also notices the booming vacation rental market and is ready to purchase a beachfront condo they can rent out to other families. Will they find their dream beachfront vacation spot on their budget?

Aug 7
3am | 2c
Season 11, Episode 1

Buying in Beaufort on a Budget

Lori and Chad's second date was during a Christmas flotilla in the historic seaside community of Beaufort, North Carolina. Soon they not only fell in love with each other and were married, but they both developed a deep connection with the tranquil coastal town and have continued visiting ever since. While Lori and Chad enjoy all Beaufort has to offer, they're tired of constantly making trips back and forth from their hometown of Greenville, North Carolina, and are ready to find a place to call their own. But with a budget of $375,000, they're not sure if a permanent residence or vacation home will be the way to go, so they've hired local real estate agent, Rita Roberts, to aid in their search.

Dec 10
1pm | 12c
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.

Dec 10
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 14, Episode 4

Grooving in Gulfport, Mississippi

Angela currently lives in South Carolina, but she is ready for a change of scenery and wants to move closer to the beach. While weighing her options, she remembered a wonderful family vacation in Gulfport, Mississippi, and immediately decided it would be the perfect city for a fresh start. Now with the help of her best friend Roshonda, Angela hopes to find a beach house in Gulfport for under $350,000.

Dec 10
2pm | 1c
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.

Dec 10
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season 14, Episode 9

Returning to Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Mark and Josephine live in San Francisco, California, along with Josephine's 14-year-old daughter, Ibby. After coming to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, for their engagement, they immediately fell in love with the location. For Josephine, it reminds her of growing up in the Philippines, and she wants to share that experience with her daughter. With the help of a real estate agent, they hope to find the perfect tropical retreat for under $350,000.

Dec 10
3pm | 2c
Season 11, Episode 3

Finding a Home in Winthrop Before the Wedding

Suzie and Rich live in Boston and are soon to be married. But before they take the plunge, they want to escape the noisy, congested city, and score a home in the quaint beach community of Winthrop, Massachusetts. Situated roughly six miles northeast of Boston, Winthrop offers a laidback vacation vibe while the city is still just a short commute away. With the wedding date rapidly approaching, Suzie and Rich have hired local real estate agent, Adina King, who will help them find the beach house of their dreams while staying within their strict budget of $375,000.

Dec 10
3:30pm | 2:30c
Season 15, Episode 6

A Deal in Jonesport-Beals

After living in the Jonesport-Beals area of Maine their entire lives, Stephen and Heidi want to upgrade from ocean views to oceanfront living. Stephen is a commercial lobster fisherman, so they are hoping to find a waterfront home with a dock, allowing less time at the marina and more time for family fun. A local real estate agent helps the couple find a permanent residence on Maine's rugged gulf beaches to live, work and play for under $350,000.

Dec 10
4pm | 3c
Season 15, Episode 9

No Qualms on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina

San Francisco couple Frank and Margaret have always wanted a beachfront property but cool Pacific waters and expensive real estate prices have prevented this dream from becoming a reality. Now they've decided to extend their search to the warm beaches of the Isle of Palms just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. However, with a limited amount of inventory available, they hope their real estate agent can find them the perfect vacation getaway without breaking the bank.

Dec 10
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 16, Episode 8

Channeling Chelem Beauty

After years of saving and countless trips to Mexico, Kenn and Paddy are ready for the life-changing adventure of running their own business. They love the lifestyle and culture of the small fishing village of Chelem, Mexico, and they've enlisted the help of local real estate agent to show them a tropical beachside property they can call home and turn into a bustling bed and breakfast, all for only $195,000.

Dec 10
5pm | 4c
Season 16, Episode 12

Headed Back to Pensacola Beach, Florida

A couple gets a jump-start on their family vacations by buying a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in beautiful Pensacola Beach, FL. They both have wonderful childhood memories of visiting the area and want their two children to have the same positive experience in their own vacation home. Will the family find the perfect beachfront condo for quality family time like they've envisioned?

Dec 10
5:30pm | 4:30c

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