Living on the beach seems like a distant dream for many. There are plenty of reasons why it might feel like an unattainable goal, but there are actually plenty of reasons to believe that it’s something you might be able to accomplish in your life. The most important piece of advice is to always keep your dream at the forefront of your mind to remind yourself as to why you’re doing the things you do.
Beach houses can be expensive, hard to come by, and are certainly not something that just anyone is up to owning and maintaining, but the benefits of living by the ocean seem to overshadow a lot of the pitfalls that people have with beach homes. The most apparent need to live by the ocean is that the saltwater air and nearby amenities make it attractive for all age groups.
Before buying your future beach house you need to do some serious research and consider all of the angles that go into buying this kind of property. While they’re not like most homes, many of the considerations are quite similar in nature. Here are some important things to keep in mind before you go buy your own beach house.
Things to Consider When Buying a House by the Beach
Choosing a Location
Likely the first thing you’ll want to do is consider all of the places you can look to buy a house. There are certainly plenty so you should write down a comprehensive list of states you want to look in to narrow it down. This means considering climate, usable swimming/water activities, peak seasons, and things like hurricane or weather warnings. This will help you cut your list from a tremendous amount of locations to something more manageable.
In the U.S. alone, there are 23 states and six territories with an ocean coastline. Among the most popular are the Carolinas (North and South), Florida, California, Hawaii, Texas, Maine, Oregon, New York, Rhode Island, and Maine, to name a few. If you were looking for North Carolina oceanfront homes for sale, your search criteria would be much different than California. California doesn’t get hurricanes, but their housing market is much more pricy. Oregon has plenty of coastlines, but it’s much colder. You get the idea, your location is everything and will play a big role in choosing the right home.
Consider the Costs Associated With a Beach House
As mentioned, oceanfront homes are quite expensive. Some think it’s solely because of the fact that you have beach access, which while true for the overall cost, isn’t the only factor. One of the most important factors is property insurance. Waterfront homes anywhere, lake or ocean, have higher property taxes because it’s a more prime real estate. It gets even more expensive when you start considering things like the location, California being one of the most expensive, compared to a state like Alabama.
Costs to protect your home from natural elements like hurricanes, flooding, or uneven ground also need to be taken into account. Beach homes often have a significant underlying layer of sand which makes a big difference for the structural integrity. This will cost a lot to fix or improve, or even build if you buy beachfront property to build on. Always consider your budget and think about the unforeseen expenses that may arise.
What Possible Concerns Are There?
The concerns have been mentioned and they are something to think heavily about. If you aren’t prepared for hurricanes, gale-force winds, floods, and other disastrous natural conditions, then you might not be ready to own a beach house. Of course, not every beach house is going to be subject to these issues, but it’s not something to scoff at. In California, you may even be at higher risk for earthquake damage and forest fires, which is as big a concern as many Eastern coastal states with hurricane weather.
Picking your home location will heighten or mitigate these concerns, but it also shouldn’t be the only barrier. There is plenty that can go wrong with a non-waterfront home too so it’s not an attempt to dissuade you if this is your dream. Consider how these damages may impact your budget, insurance, and the structure and protection of your future beach house.
Figure Out How You’d Like to Decorate
Into less serious or frightening matters is the consideration of your decor. Yes, you need a decor budget so if the house is quite big, you’ll need to factor this into your home buying power. Ultimately, you want the beach house to look like a beach house, that’s why most people buy them anyways, for the authentic aesthetic. This means picking the right colors, decor, and furniture. Good options are southern style vacation homes, Northeastern/Hamptons beach aesthetic, rustic Pacific Northwest cabins, or the contemporary California coastal look.
Whatever style you choose will help you get a good idea of how you want to decorate before you move in, this helps you shore up more time for the important documents and legal requirements before signing the mortgage, deed, and other paperwork. It’s also one of the more fun things to do when thinking about owning a new house, especially a beach house. You should also consider other things you’ll want to buy like kayaks, canoes, possibly a boat, jet skis, or other toys to enjoy when you have your own little slice of waterfront.
Moving Needs and Expenses
This isn’t specific to any kind of beach house buying, it’s more of a general consideration any home buyer should be considered. Moving all of your stuff is quite the excursion, and unless you rent a truck, hire a mover, or own a big enough pickup truck, you’re going to be incurring a lot of costs to get all of your couches, chairs, beds, and the like to your new home. It also might be an issue if your new beach house is quite out of the way as this will cost more in terms of distance traveled and time spent using the movers. If you’re okay with hiring them, and frankly anyone should, this is something to consider.
Why is it always advised to use a mover for big-ticket items? The first reason is that they know what they’re doing and have done enough moves to understand how to properly maneuver couches through doorways and other tight spaces. The last thing you’d want to do is move and find out your couch doesn’t fit through the door or that you scratched your new wall before you even got settled. It’ll add to your total budget, but it’s worth the peace of mind.
Beach Living Abroad
For folks looking at moving to the coast abroad, it becomes a little more tricky. Moving overseas requires plenty of preparation for moving furniture, vehicles, getting settled in, or finding work, and relocating your family are among the biggest concerns. There are even more choices for coastal homes abroad. Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Australia, U.K., Ireland, and Canada are among some of the most premier destinations to look for beach houses, but they require a lot of thinking. It sometimes is better to stay domestic because you will not have to pay even more for things like waterfront home insurance and other expenses as a non-resident of the country.
If you’re really committed to finding a beach house overseas, your best bet is to get in contact with groups on social media that have moved abroad to get their perspective and advice. It’s also a great time to contact a foreign realty company that specializes in ex-pat moves. It’s not a bad idea by any means, but it’s good to be realistic and consider how this option is considerably more difficult. If you’re truly committed, then it might be just the change in your life that you have always dreamed about.
Consider Your Desire to Rent the Home
Those looking to buy a beach house to turn it into rental property should be wary of this venture for a few reasons. It could be a good option if the market is in good shape and you can reliably find tenants, but keep in mind that the costs of owning a beach house are very high so you would need to be charging enough rent to cover those costs. Breaking even shouldn’t be an option here as you won’t be making any income on the home. Beachfront houses typically don’t rent that well for these reasons as many renters understand how expensive it can be and opt to buy a home or own property with that money.
It’s also going to be quite the undertaking to get everything up to code and approved for someone to rent this property. You need to consider insurance, possible issues, the tenant’s credit, and references, and again, how the market is. It’s entirely doable, but it might not be the best option right away. If you’re serious about buying a beachfront house, it’s often best that you make it the main property that you live in, rather than turning it into a rental property. Similarly, if you turn your former main home into a rental property to cover the costs of the beach house, unforeseen issues in the market or damages could derail that goal and leave you in a sticky financial situation.
Check Out the Neighborhood and Neighbors
Always, always, always do a thorough check into the quality of the neighborhood and try to meet as many neighbors as possible. You think of a beach house and your first thought is relaxing with a margarita in a beach chair enjoying the sunset, but sometimes the neighbors and the neighborhood could be holding back the potential of the home. Walk around, check out other properties to see their condition, figuring out how close you are to things like schools, restaurants, and other needs, and see how the place looks. Never judge a book by its cover, especially not a home that is going to be a big financial investment.
The neighbors may also make or break it for you. Younger couples might be a little louder or rowdier because of their prime real estate location, which might be the opposite of you needing a quiet getaway. Also, consider if they have kids or pets and if this is an issue to you. The beach might be shared so if they’re a messy group then it’s a bad sign you might not get along. It’s hard to gauge how good neighbors are without living around them for some time, but you can often spot good or bad neighbors quite quickly.
Inspecting the Home for Any Issues
Finally, you should get the home thoroughly inspected before signing the agreement. Beach houses need a much more thorough and specialized inspection than some mainland homes for reasons that are hard to see from the naked eye. Saltwater damage to metals, corroded parts of structures, structural issues with sand or soil eroding the base of the home, and other changes will be inspected by a dedicated coastline inspector. These inspectors specialize in these properties because a normal inspector may not know to look for these problems or simply not understand the need to.
Always look for an inspector that handles these kinds of properties because they will know what to look for and find any damages that are going to be specific to water and other related damages and give you good advice on how to deal with it, along with a quote on how much it might cost you. The hidden costs could end up hurting your budget, so it’s better safe than sorry 100% of the time.
Choosing a home is a huge deal, but it becomes more complicated when you start looking for more specialized or unusual properties. A specialized property like a beach house requires some additional research and thought, and this list has provided you with some things to think about when considering buying a waterfront home.