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
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.

Sunday
Jan 18
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 7, Episode 1

Don't Top the Budget on Topsail Island, NC

Jennifer and Ryan are searching for a vacation home off the coast of North Carolina, but Ryan has his heart set on a stand-alone home for his family to make memories. In the condo heavy market on Topsail Island, finding a house with an ocean view for under $150,000 will be tricky, but hopefully with the help of real estate agent, Jason Hyde, Jennifer can convince Ryan the value of a beachfront condo instead.

Monday
Jul 6
3am | 2c
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 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.

Sunday
Jan 17
3pm | 2c
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.

Sunday
Jan 17
6:30pm | 5:30c
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
Jun 5
6pm | 5c
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.

Monday
Aug 8
3am | 2c
Season 9, Episode 7

Opening Up Shop in San Jacinto, Ecuador

Working in the travel industry has provided Marty and Jim a ticket around the world and an education in hospitality. They've learned that expectations are high and are looking to live up to them by opening their own bed and breakfast in San Jacinto, Ecuador. Finding a home to live and work in won't be easy, but with the help of real estate agent, Tom Saunders, Marty and Jim are searching for a spot on the sand to make their own, all for under $200,000.

Sunday
Aug 14
3:30pm | 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
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Sunday
Jan 22
8pm | 7c
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Sunday
Jan 22
8:30pm | 7:30c
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Monday
Jan 23
3am | 2c
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Monday
Jan 23
3:30am | 2:30c
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Sunday
Jan 29
8pm | 7c
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Jan 29
8:30pm | 7:30c
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Monday
Jan 30
3am | 2c
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Monday
Jan 30
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 11, Episode 2

Bridge to a Bargain in New London County, CT

Stephanie and Ryan have been living in Groton, Connecticut for seven years. Living in Southeastern Connecticut grants easy access to the sands, but they're ready to dive deeper into beach living by moving across the bridge, to a more coastal location in New London County. With the help of local real estate agent, Fred Allyn III, this beach-going couple is looking to seize a steal on a seaside home for under $350,000.

Friday
Feb 3
1pm | 12c
Season 11, Episode 13

A Budget to Squeeze in Placencia, Belize

Ever since their third date, Glenn and Samantha have shared the dream of owning a vacation home somewhere on the beach. Glenn grew up on the coast of Florida, and Samantha is a serious scuba diver, so they both feel a strong connection to the ocean. After a lengthy period of researching everywhere from Mexico to Costa Rica, they kept hearing great things about Placencia, Belize. Known for its exquisite diving, laid back lifestyle, and friendly atmosphere, Glenn and Samantha decide to visit Placencia for the very first time to explore the possibility of purchasing a property.

Friday
Feb 3
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 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.

Friday
Feb 3
2:30pm | 1:30c
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Friday
Feb 3
3pm | 2c

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