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 2, Episode 9

A Texas Couple Aims to Find a Beachfront Paradise

For Wayne and Kathleen, it's all about finding a place where they can spread out and escape work with a sun-soaked lifestyle. Real estate agent Margaret Goolsbee hopes to help the couple realize their dream and dig their toes in the sand for a price tag of $350,000 or less.

Tuesday
Jan 13
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 6, Episode 6

Battling Budgets in North Myrtle Beach

Vinny and Frenia agree on the idea of a vacation home in North Myrtle Beach, but they are finding out that their differing budgets may come between them. They have enlisted the help of real estate agent, Jason Moore, to play referee between Frenia's urge to splurge at $250,000 and Vinny's more conservative outlook of $185,000.

Sunday
Feb 1
8pm | 7c
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.

Monday
Feb 9
3am | 2c
Season 6, Episode 7

Galavanting around for a summer home on beaches of Galveston, TX.

Houston couple, Erica and Stew, love spending their summers on the beautiful beaches of Galveston, TX. Tired of renting various beach homes year after year, the couple decide it's finally time to buy a beachfront home of their own. With a tight budget of $350,000, the family enlists local real estate agent, Carol Miller Odorizzi, to help them find the perfect summer abode.

Sunday
Mar 15
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 5, Episode 3

A home on the Grand Strand in South Carolina.

Jason and Jessica hunt for the perfect beachfront home to help unwind from their busy workweeks. Having vacationed on South Carolina's Grand Strand most of their lives, the couple is ready to turn in their hotelkeys for home keys. Having a budget of only $150,000, the couple meets with local real estate agent, Kim Goyer, to help them find their dream vacation getaway.

Sunday
Apr 5
3pm | 2c
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.

Sunday
Aug 16
8:30pm | 7:30c
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.

Tuesday
Sep 8
6pm | 5c
Season 3, Episode 7

A Hoboken Family Hunts Jacksonville Beach

Frank and Daria need to find a beach house that touches sand. Real estate agent Justin Timmons will show them four potential properties in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. These parents of two need a spacious single family home with rental potential all for under their budget of $375,000 or it's no deal!

Saturday
Sep 19
3:30pm | 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.

Sunday
Jan 10
8pm | 7c
Season 10, Episode 1

Hiding Away in Jaco, Costa Rica

Hayes and Paola are relocating from Panama to the Dominican Republic and are looking for a casa on the cinnamon colored sands of Jaco, Costa Rica. With Paola's family an hour and a half away in San Jose, Jaco is the perfect location for a central family vacation house. With the help of local real estate agent, Sergio Gonzalez, Hayes and Paola look to find a seafront spot to siesta for under $220,000.

Monday
Jan 18
3:30am | 2:30c
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.

Monday
Apr 11
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 12, Episode 12

Flockin' to Rockport, Texas

Jim and Pam are college sweethearts from Houston, Texas and have two kids, Will and Abigail. While Pam has been coming to Rockport since she was a child, Jim only recently discovered the wonders of this charming fishing community. With all of the amazing outdoor activities that Rockport has to offer, they think this is a great place to create some lasting family memories with the kids. With the help of real estate agent, Phyllis Kline, they hope to find the perfect beachfront home for under $250,000.

Monday
Oct 3
3am | 2c
Season , Episode

Sunday
Jan 15
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.

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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