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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Photo By: Andrew McGary ©© 2015 Prefit/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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas / Getty Images

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. 

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Photo By: Todd Douglas / Getty Images

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?

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Photo By: Todd Douglas / Getty Images

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

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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 7

A Mexican retreat on the Pacific Coastline

After years of vacationing in Mexico, Robbie and Shawn look to find a second home near their favorite beach town of Bucerias. With a lengthy wish list and two very different budgets, the couple realizes they need the help of a real estate agent to facilitate the house hunting process. Jeff Bates is up to the challenge but it will be difficult to make Robbie and Shawn's big dreams come true.

Thursday
Dec 25
12pm | 11c
Season 6, Episode 9

A woman ready for a change searches for a permanent dream home in Avon, North Carolina.

Heather fell in love with the small town charm and beautiful beaches of Avon, North Carolina many years ago. Now, ready to make a change in her life, she's looking to permanently move from her home near Charlotte to Avon. Knowing that this is more than a weekend getaway, Heather needs to find a house that really suits all of her needs. With the help of her friend, Courtney, and the knowledge of local real estate agent, Tom Hranicka, Heather begins her quest for her dream, beach home for under $360,000.

Saturday
Sep 19
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season 8, Episode 9

Redemption in Rockport Texas

Kathleen and Tim reside in San Antonio, Texas, and have been married for 10 years. After spending several family vacations in the quaint gulf coast community of Rockport, they're tired of paying for hotel rooms and would love to purchase a beach house of their own. They found the perfect place and made an offer but couldn't come to terms with the owner on a price and the deal fell through. Now, with the help of real estate agent, Patty Henderson, Kathleen and Tim are taking one more shot at making their beachfront dreams come true.

Sunday
Dec 27
8:30pm | 7:30c
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.

Monday
Apr 4
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 11, Episode 8

Shuckin' It Up in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

Michael and Margaret are from Putnam Valley, New York and have three daughters, Kaitlyn, Madelyn, and Victoria. While searching for the perfect vacation destination, they visited every beach in North Carolina before finally settling on Ocean Isle Beach. With the help of real estate agent, Laura Hewett, they hope to find the perfect beachfront house for under $375,000.

Monday
Aug 1
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.

Sunday
Sep 18
4pm | 3c
Season 8, Episode 8

Passport to Rio Hato, Panama

Troy Bell fell in love with the sand, sea, and sunshine after his first trip to Florida as a teenager with his parents. After this life changing experience, the native Canadian vowed that when he grew up he was going to move out of rainy Vancouver and into his very own tropical beach house. Now after several trips to Central America, Troy has his sights set on the shores of the Coclé Province of Panama, in the town of Rio Hato. The fabulous sandy beaches, glistening turquoise water, and incomparable climate, are the perfect setting for a seaside sanctuary. With the help of real estate agent and fellow ex-pat, Eldon Spears, Troy hopes to fulfill his beachfront dreams for under $200,000.

Friday
Dec 9
7pm | 6c
Season 13, Episode 9

Staying Put on St. Thomas, USVI

Born and raised in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Rosa loves the island lifestyle and is ready to fully commit to a life of ease. After years of renting in the downtown Charlotte Amalie area, this St. Thomian is ready to escape the hustle and bustle and purchase her first home in the hills. To help with her hunt and manage her expectations, she's bringing along her close friend, Manuel. Together, these locals will look to find a full-time oasis for under $350,000.

Tuesday
Jul 4
1:30pm | 12:30c
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.

Saturday
Jul 22
3am | 2c
Season 15, Episode 8

At Home in Hampton Beach

Chris and Rowena live in East Kingston, New Hampshire, with their three children. They love Hampton Beach and all the great family attractions that it offers, but they're tired of sitting in traffic during the commute. Owning a beachfront place of their own will give them more time to spend together as a family, so they're shopping for the perfect beachfront condo for under $400,000.

Monday
Aug 14
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 9, Episode 6

The Value Of Friendship In Manta

Mitch and Randee are newlyweds from Palmer, Alaska, and their blended family consists of five children. Enduring bitter winters her entire life, Randee has always fantasized about finding a tropical vacation getaway for her family. Luckily her childhood friend, Garrett, moved down and opened a real estate company with his father in the pacific coast community of Manta, Ecuador. After chatting over the phone and social media, Garrett opened both Mitch and Randee's eyes to the endless oceanfront possibilities of Ecuador. With his help they hope to achieve Randee's life long dream and find a South American sanctuary for $250,000 or less.

Sunday
Sep 17
3pm | 2c
Season 16, Episode 6

On Par for Miramar Beach, Florida

A couple and their two children from Valdosta, Georgia, have rented vacation properties in Miramar Beach, Florida, for years. Now, the couple hopes to generate a rental income of their own to supplement their purchase of a vacation home. With the help of a local agent, they look to purchase the perfect waterfront condo for under $380,000.

Monday
Dec 25
1:30am | 12:30c
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.

Friday
Jan 5
1pm | 12c
Season 13, Episode 8

Picking a Palace in Palacios, Texas

Shane and Justin currently live in El Campo, Texas, and wish that they lived closer to the water. Justin has visited Palacios since childhood and both of them have friends in the area. With real estate on the rise, now seems like the perfect time to take the plunge and purchase a place of their own in Palacios. With the help of real estate agent Lin Hutzenbiler, they hope to find the perfect beachfront getaway for under $375,000.

Friday
Jan 19
6pm | 5c
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.

Friday
Jan 19
6:30pm | 5:30c
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.

Friday
Jan 19
7pm | 6c
Season 13, Episode 11

Getting to Know Jaco, Costa Rica

Kim and Richard live outside of Tampa, Florida, with their three children. They've always dreamed of owning a beach house, but waterfront property around Tampa is too expensive. While researching possible locations overseas, Kim and Richard kept hearing great things about the small surf community of Jaco, Costa Rica. Now they're headed down to see what the town has to offer and hopefully find the perfect family vacation getaway for under $299,000.

Friday
Jan 19
7:30pm | 6:30c
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Sunday
Jan 21
8pm | 7c
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Sunday
Jan 21
8:30pm | 7:30c
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Monday
Jan 22
3am | 2c
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Monday
Jan 22
3:30am | 2:30c
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Sunday
Jan 28
8pm | 7c
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Jan 28
8:30pm | 7:30c
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Monday
Jan 29
3am | 2c
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Jan 29
3:30am | 2:30c
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Sunday
Feb 4
8pm | 7c

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