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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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 9

Dustin and his sister explore Cabo to find a beachfront home that his pregnant wife will approve of.

Dustin is a father of three with a baby on the way. Unable to take his expecting wife with him to Mexico, Dustin enlists the help of his sister, Brittany, to be the female voice of reason to find the perfect vacation home for his growing family. With the help of local real estate agent, Nick Fong, they explore the coast of beautiful Cabo San Lucas in hopes to find the perfect family vacation home for under $300,000.

May 25
11am | 10c
Season 4, Episode 10

Bargain Hunting Pismo Beach, CA

Anthony and Hun need a sunny beach home. Real Estate Agent Mikey Hahn will show them four potential properties. Come along as they search for a beach home with lots of space that's steps from the beach all for under their budget of $375,000.

Jul 5
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 3, Episode 13

A family of four searches for their vacation villa in the Dominican Republic.

Roger, Tracey and their two children are looking to find their perfect vacation villa on the north shore of the Dominican Republic. Safety, multiple bedrooms and beach access are all essentials for this active family from Canada. With the help of Randi Carrier, a local real estate agent, they search the beautiful shores for the perfect family getaway with a budget of $325,000.

Jul 31
6:30pm | 5:30c
Season 8, Episode 12

Passion for Port Lavaca, Texas

Lindsey and Marty are tired of the commute from their home in Edna, Texas to their jobs in Port Lavaca. They have finally decided to take the plunge and move to Port Lavaca to spend fewer hours on the road and more time enjoying the beautiful beaches. They have enlisted the help of real estate agent, Dallas Franklin, to assist them in sussing out the shores of this bay community for a realistic full-time residency with a fantasy vacation feel for only $275,000.

Sep 28
3am | 2c
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.

Nov 20
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 6, Episode 4

To Buy Beachside or Bayside in South Padre Island, Texas

Chis and Mike live hectic lives in Las Vegas and are looking for a vacation home to unwind on South Padre Island, Texas. Their $245,000 budget will buy them what they need on both the beachside and the bayside of the island, but they become torn over which side will suit their lifestyle better.

Feb 11
3pm | 2c
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.

May 14
9:30pm | 8:30c
Season 9, Episode 4

Sustainability on the Sands of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Dan and Kara are looking to escape their fast-paced lives in Denver, Colorado, for permanent relaxation in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. As the world's second most environmentally sustainable country, Costa Rica offers Dan and Kara the ability to live amongst nature, while leaving a smaller footprint on the Earth. With the help of real estate agent, Rebecca Clower, this couple is looking for a sustainable beachfront oasis for under $250,000.

Jul 13
4:30pm | 3:30c
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.

Jul 15
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 14, Episode 11

Hitting the Road in Maui, Hawaii

Bill is a high school teacher and coach from Camarillo, California. He has been visiting and renting in Maui for over six years, but has finally saved enough to purchase a place of his own. With diverse landscapes and breathtaking scenery, this Hawaiian island is the perfect place for Bill to unwind during his summers off. A local real estate agent helps Bill find a dream vacation home of his own for under $300,000.

Jul 20
3:30pm | 2:30c
Season 17, Episode 6

Space to Play in Cocoa Beach, Florida

A Florida family decides it's time to stop packing for vacation and move full-time to their favorite relaxation spot of Cocoa Beach. Their oldest daughter comes along to help them find their dream waterfront vacation home while staying under budget. Will they find the beach home of their dreams?

Sep 30
12:30am | 11:30c
Season 17, Episode 6

Space to Play in Cocoa Beach, Florida

A Florida family decides it's time to stop packing for vacation and move full-time to their favorite relaxation spot of Cocoa Beach. Their oldest daughter comes along to help them find their dream waterfront vacation home while staying under budget. Will they find the beach home of their dreams?

Nov 10
3pm | 2c
Season 18, Episode 3

The One in Placencia

A busy San Francisco family looks to purchase a relaxing vacation property in their favorite spot of Placencia, Belize. The location is surrounded by a lagoon and the Caribbean Sea, making it a perfect spot for this blended family to enjoy their favorite water activities and relax on the beach. Homes in this laid-back land can cost as much as two million dollars -- will they have the budget to find their dream home?

Feb 19
3am | 2c
Season 18, Episode 11

Atlantic Beach Surprise

After years of talking about buying a coastal retreat together, two wives are kicking things into gear and surprising their husbands with a weekend of beachfront bargain hunting for a home under $350,000.

Mar 18
5pm | 4c
Season 15, Episode 2

It's Game Time in Galveston, Texas

A football family of four lives a busy life of sports in Katy, Texas. They'd like to find a vacation house in Galveston, Texas, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and spend more quality time together. With the help of a local real estate agent, they hope to find the perfect beachfront home for under $399,000.

Mar 18
5:30pm | 4:30c
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.

Mar 18
6pm | 5c
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?

Mar 18
6:30pm | 5:30c
Season 18, Episode 12

Pursuing the Panoramic Views of Plymouth, Massachusetts

A woman seeks a change of scenery after spending her entire life in Carver, Massachusetts. With a budget of $375,000 and the help of family and friends, she's searching for her own property on the coastal sands of nearby Plymouth, so she can see the ocean and enjoy the beach every day.

Mar 18
7pm | 6c
Season 18, Episode 7

A Sweet Cranberry Coast Deal

A Seattle couple that loves getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city by vacationing on the Washington Coast decides to find their own home there. They've dreamed of owning a beachfront home in Grayland since they first met and it's become a tradition to vacation there with friends and family. With the help of an old college buddy, they are headed down the shore to purchase a home where they can vacation and visit right on the Pacific Ocean.

Mar 18
7:30pm | 6:30c
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.

Apr 5
8am | 7c
Season 8, Episode 4

She Wares It Well

Experience and wisdom shall not take a back seat as a mother insists on guiding her daughter on an amazing search of a lifetime. Young Heather Klein and her affinity for outdoor beach living is finally ready to buy a home on the Jersey shore, but her intuition says, "Wait". Expert real estate agent, Frank Tenner, must now satisfy the wishes of this mom and daughter duo while staying under a budget of $300,000. If Frank is successful, then Heather may just find the independence that she has been seeking.

Apr 5
8:30am | 7:30c
Season 8, Episode 7

A Couple Explores Daufuskie In Hopes of Finding a Beach House Big Enough for Their Large Family

Elizabeth and David recently got married on the gorgeous Island of Daufuskie. This hidden gem has always had a special place in Elizabeth's heart and now that their two families have combined, they want a place for all eleven of their family members to be able to visit, relax and enjoy the beach life. Daufuskie Island has no shortage of beauty, history, and gorgeous houses, but Elizabeth and David need to find a house big enough for their family and under $350,000. With the help of local real estate agent, Robbie Bunting, the couple sets off to make their dream a reality.

Apr 5
9am | 8c
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.

Apr 5
9:30am | 8:30c
Season 9, Episode 10

Finding a Castle on the Coast in Fort Pierce, FL

Ramiro and Liz are looking to find a family vacation home in the Sunrise City of Fort Pierce, Florida. With Ramiro often on the road for work, they are looking for a place where they can relax and spend precious time together. Liz has her heart set on a condo, while Ramiro pictures himself in a home. With the help of real estate agent, Delila McKenna, this couple will compromise on a castle on the coast for under $250,000.

Apr 5
10am | 9c
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.

Apr 5
10:30am | 9:30c
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.

Apr 5
11am | 10c

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