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

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 12

Bargain Hunting Puerto Vallarta

Brad and Scott are in love with the cultural atmosphere of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Real Estate Agent John Swanson 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 $275,000.

Monday
Dec 1
12am | 11c
Season 4, Episode 6

A single mother and her two daughters search for a beachfront property in Biloxi.

Elizabeth and her two daughters live in New Orleans but love the beach. After vacationing in Biloxi for many years, they feel it's finally time to purchase a vacation home there. Trying to please two daughters and find the perfect condominium for under $215,000 is not an easy task. With the help of local real estate agent Beth Mandal Tyson, Elizabeth and her daughters hope to find the perfect Biloxi beachfront bargain.

Tuesday
Feb 17
4:30pm | 3:30c
Season 5, Episode 1

Texas living on the shores of Crystal Beach.

Rebecca and John have been vacationing in Crystal Beach, TX since they were in high school. Having always dreamed of owning a home on the Texas coast, the couple is finally ready to find the perfect beach home all for under $275,000. With dueling budgets, the couple looks to local real estate agent, Luz Gray, to help them find a vacation haven.

Friday
Mar 27
1:30pm | 12:30c
Season 3, Episode 3

A young married couple scour Pensacola Beach for a waterfront vacation home.

Matt and Salina are an active couple cruising the sugar sand beaches for a home that puts them in the middle of the of both waterfronts. Real Estate Agent Kimberly Gettle will show them four potential properties across the lagoon and gulf coasts of Pensacola Beach, Florida. From sound front to ocean front beaches, Matt and Salina try to find a place with a view with plenty of room for guests and ocean access all for under their budget of $250,000.

Tuesday
Apr 14
3pm | 2c
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.

Saturday
May 2
6:30pm | 5:30c
Monday
May 25
10am | 9c
Season 8, Episode 13

Crashin' on the shores of Crystal Beach, TX

Debbie and John have set their sights on the shores of Crystal Beach, Texas. After renting for years, they're ready to dive in and find a beachfront base of their own. From off-roading on the beach to skimboarding in the waves, Crystal Beach provides the family atmosphere the Crismans crave. Formerly competing coworkers, this couple will team up to find a beachfront home for their family of four. With the help of real estate agent, Cody Hammond, Debbie and John are wheelin' and dealin' for a home away from home.

Sunday
Feb 28
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season 9, Episode 11

Key West, Florida Comeback

Victoria is a single mother who raised her two children, Tim and Chris in Key West, Florida. But due to their jobs the family had to relocate up north to Miami. Now that the kids are grown and out on their own, Victoria would like to return to their old neighborhood, and find a vacation home where she and the boys can reconnect and spend quality time together. Although they're familiar with the area, it's been a while, so Victoria has hired local real estate agent, Ellen Gvili, to help navigate the current market and hopefully land a beachfront property within Victoria's firm budget of $350,000.

Monday
Apr 4
3am | 2c
Season 6, Episode 1

Searching for a Sun Worshipper's Spot in Virginia Beach

A single woman and her sister search for a spot along Shore Drive in Virginia Beach,

Saturday
May 14
2:30pm | 1:30c
Season 12, Episode 11

All in for Gulf Shores, Alabama

Kim and her two daughters, Jen and Melissa, have been going on vacation to the beach for as long as they can remember. After years of renting, they are ready to combine resources and invest in a beach home for their three families in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Just across the border from Florida, this small town boasts white sandy beaches and southern hospitality, making it the perfect vacation location for these Ohio natives. With the help of local real estate agent, Jim Bailey, this mother-daughter trio will search for a seaside home for the entire family, all for under $350,000.

Sunday
Sep 25
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 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.

Thursday
May 25
7pm | 6c
Season 15, Episode 6

A Deal in Jonesport-Beals

After living in the Jonesport-Beals area of Maine their entire lives, Stephen and Heidi want to upgrade from ocean views to oceanfront living. Stephen is a commercial lobster fisherman, so they are hoping to find a waterfront home with a dock, allowing less time at the marina and more time for family fun. A local real estate agent helps the couple find a permanent residence on Maine's rugged gulf beaches to live, work and play for under $350,000.

Thursday
Jun 1
7pm | 6c
Season 16, Episode 4

The Allure of the North Shore, Massachusetts

In North Reading, Massachusetts, a husband hopes to convince his wife that purchasing a beachfront property would provide them and their three children with the perfect vacation getaway. He feels that the North Shore of Massachusetts would be the ideal location, as it offers a variety of quaint beach towns that the entire family enjoys. With the help of a local real estate agent, he hopes to persuade her by finding an affordable property listed for $299,000 or less.

Sunday
Sep 17
5pm | 4c
Season 14, Episode 1

Why Not Move to Warwick?

Aman and Kevin are native Rhode Islanders living in Narragansett. They have grown tired of renting and are ready to move more centrally within the Ocean State to access their family, work and favorite activities. Conveniently located within the heart of Rhode Island, Warwick boasts 39 miles of coastline and eight beaches while providing easy access to city life in Providence or seaside life in Narragansett. Will this couple find their first home on New England waters, all for under $215,000?

Sunday
Sep 17
5:30pm | 4:30c
Season 11, Episode 4

Gettin' Mama a Gulf Front View in Orange Beach, Alabama

Tammy and Russ are from Aliceville, Alabama and both spent their childhood vacationing in Orange Beach. They have two sons, Preston and Rafe, and are hoping to spend some quality time with them at the beach while they're still young. Tammy's only requirement is that she gets a direct view of the Gulf of Mexico. With the help of real estate agent, Lance Steffek, they hope to find the perfect beachfront condo for only $275,000.

Sunday
Sep 17
6pm | 5c
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.

Sunday
Sep 17
6:30pm | 5:30c
Season 15, Episode 3

Craving the California Coast

Brooke, Corey and their four children have always enjoyed a day at the beach. Recently Brooke's grandmother, a native of Southern California, moved in with them and expressed her interest to return to life on the coast. After taking several road trips in their RV, the family caught the beach bug and decided to check out properties in Crescent City, California. Brimming with outdoor adventure, this small town offers them easy access to picturesque state parks, magnificent redwoods and the stunning Pacific Ocean. Now they're looking for the perfect beachfront vacation home for under $399,000.

Sunday
Sep 17
7pm | 6c
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.

Sunday
Sep 17
7:30pm | 6:30c
Season , Episode

Sunday
Sep 17
8pm | 7c
Season , Episode

Sunday
Sep 17
8:30pm | 7:30c
Season , Episode

Monday
Sep 18
3am | 2c
Season , Episode

Monday
Sep 18
3:30am | 2:30c
Season 9, Episode 12

Searching for a Seafront Sanctuary in Saipan

Residents of San Diego, Jeff and Ginger enjoy the perks of beach life, but are ready for the island lifestyle. This active couple is moving over 6,000 miles to the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. They're looking for a single-family home with room to prep and store items for their brand-new barbecue food trailer business. With the help of local real estate agent, Tim Goodwin, Jeff and Ginger will find a Saipanese sanctuary on the hidden gem of Saipan for under $275,000.

Thursday
Sep 21
1pm | 12c
Season 11, Episode 12

A Newlywed Life on North Padre Island, Texas

Bill and Droxine have been together for three years, but have never lived in the same city. Bill resides in Austin, Texas, while Droxine and the two boys live almost four hours away on beautiful North Padre Island. Located within the city limits of Corpus Christi, the island provides numerous beach activities with a vacation lifestyle perfect for their family of four. Local real estate agent, Shannon Bumstead, will help this newlywed couple start their life together by aiding in the search for the waterfront home of their dreams, all for under $375,000.

Thursday
Sep 21
1:30pm | 12:30c
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.

Thursday
Sep 21
2pm | 1c

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