What It's Like to Live in a Waterfront Home

Homeowners share their insights on living by oceans, rivers and lakes.
Rainbow Point's Exterior Is Private Yet Impressive

Rainbow Point's Exterior Is Private Yet Impressive

Privacy is a big issue to many elite homeowners in the Los Angeles area. Even if paparazzi were to cruise by this lakefront mansion, mature foliage protects the residents from prying eyes.

Photo by: Jade Mills Estates

Jade Mills Estates

For some waterfront homeowners, living by the water means 24/7 access to sun, sand and surfing. For others, waterfront living equals a quiet place to connect with nature. Whatever lifestyle you’re looking for, there’s a waterfront property to suit your needs.

Owners of oceanfront, riverfront and lakefront homes share the pros and cons of their experiences and reveal how waterfront living stacks up overall.

The Lakefront Experience: Privacy and Atmosphere

When Kimberly Abbasi, her husband and two daughters moved from California to Arizona, they wanted more from their home than a typical neighborhood could offer them. “We were looking for a place with ambiance and a view rather than just a fence around us,” she said.

The family found what they were looking for in a lakefront home in the Ocotillo Lakes area of Chandler, Ariz. With their only neighbors situated across the lake from them, they enjoy a sense of seclusion not found in just any neighborhood. “It gives a sense of privacy compared with a community where you have neighbors right on top of you,” Abbasi said.

Living on the lake in Arizona comes with other perks as well. Being surrounded by water makes sweltering Arizona summers seem a bit cooler, and lake activities like paddleboating allow the family to bond with their neighbors.

As part of a lakefront community, the homeowners association has certain guidelines for maintaining the property, but Abbasi was already accustomed to these kinds of guidelines from her community in California.

“I’m so glad we waited until we could get a house on the lake. I don’t think we would have been nearly as satisfied anywhere else,” she said.

The Oceanfront Experience: Beauty and Convenience

Amazing Water Homes: St. Croix

Amazing Water Homes: St. Croix

Mango Hill Greathouse brings a classic touch to this Caribbean island with its plantation-style architecture. Nestled on top of a hill, the home's multiple windows offer stunning views of the ocean.

“Even after having been there for almost a year now, it’s still breathtaking,” says cardiologist Arthur Crossman of his oceanfront home in Ormond Beach, Fla. 

In a luxury home with “every feature you could possibly ever want” located on a private beach, Crossman, his wife and his two daughters have all the amenities of the ocean at their fingertips. Crossman had previously lived on the river in Florida but now enjoys the convenience of oceanfront living. “The problem in Florida with living on the river is that you can’t just jump in the water because of oyster shells,” he said. “On the beach, you can just walk out your door, walk up and down the beach, and jump in the ocean.” 

Proximity to the ocean also means easy access to water sports. Crossman has enjoyed waterskiing in the past and says he would like to purchase a sailboat. When not taking advantage of the beach, the family can still enjoy the ocean breeze while staying protected from the elements on the home’s patio. 

Crossman advises potential oceanfront homebuyers that there are issues to be aware of, such as the possibility of damage to the home from hurricanes, tropical storms and nor’ easters. In the event of inclement weather, Crossman has equipped his home with automatic hurricane shutters and a generator. 

“As long as you go in with that understanding, you’re never going to be disappointed,” Crossman said.

The Riverfront Experience: Tranquility and Inspiration

Waterfront Place condominium towers in Downtown Scottsdale, AZ (Phoenix metropolitan area) with the Arizona canal, palm trees, and riverfront walkways in the foreground.

Scottsdale towers and canal

Waterfront Place condominium towers in Downtown Scottsdale, AZ (Phoenix metropolitan area) with the Arizona canal, palm trees, and riverfront walkways in the foreground.

For Eileen Gay, a public artist and real estate agent from northern Nevada, living in a riverfront home is like constantly being on vacation. “What we would spend money on to go away someplace and enjoy, we can walk out the door and down to the beach we have here and we’re there,” she said. 

After moving to Nevada from Southern California, Gay and her husband found themselves looking for a place to enjoy the peace and quiet of the river on the weekends, but to no avail. “We were going for quiet, but everyone else was going for 'let’s put on the stereo and have all the kids make a racket,' ” she said. 

So when it was time to purchase their next home in 1996, they decided to buy a property on the river and build their own riverfront retreat. 

As an artist, Gay’s home on the river provides a source of inspiration for pieces dealing with nature. “This morning I was enjoying a blue heron flying by, seven deer grazing in the field across from us, and four or five mallard ducks paddling around on the river, and that was just walking into the bedroom to make the bed,” she said. 

To achieve this kind of connection with nature, Gay and her husband had to build their home away from the commotion of town. While Gay considers this an advantage, high gas prices can make the commute to town costly. To deal with this, Gay groups her errands together to reduce the number of trips she has to make. 

“To get something that’s nature-oriented rather than town-oriented, you’re going to be out a little ways,” she says. 

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