The dream of having a waterfront home is something that a lot of people strive for. The lifestyle is always glamourized in movies and TV series as being peak luxury living. But it can also be an amazing financial investment. According to Zillow, having a waterfront property automatically brings up the value more than double of what the house would be worth anywhere else.
All my life, I’ve grown up near or on the water. My parent’s home has a lake at the end of the road. And I spent every summer at my grandparent’s house where the ocean was a short drive away. It wasn’t until college that I realized this wasn’t normal, and that I am incredibly privileged to grow up this way. My parents and grandparents bought houses at a time where the home values are a tiny fraction of what they are today. Their homes are now worth 4 times as much as what they originally paid for them. Because of this, I have an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to own a waterfront home. So…Is it worth it? Here are some of the pro’s and con’s to the waterfront lifestyle.
9. The Beach House Insurance Cost is Most Likely Going to be Expensive
When it comes to waterfront houses flooding, it’s not “if”, but “when”. You could go years without any major flooding issues, only to be hit by one huge hurricane and have everything change. It would be wise to get a homeowner’s insurance plan with flood protection. If you live in a high-risk area, it’s going to be difficult to predict out how much the beach insurance will cost until you call for a quote. These plans are either going to be very expensive, or the insurance company will not be willing to take the risk at all. Always do your research before you commit to buying a property, because you don’t want to be caught off-guard in the face of a natural disaster.
8. The Extra Moisture in the Air Keeps You Looking Young
For years, it has been said that living by the ocean is great for your skin and health. But it’s not just an old wive’s tale. There was a scientific study in Japan where researchers placed people in two rooms- one with 10% humidity, and another at 80%. They asked the people to smile, and paid attention to the wrinkles around their eyes. When sitting in the low humidity space, the wrinkles stayed on the face much longer, compared to the high humidity room where wrinkles began to dissipate. Hydration is a huge factor in keeping skin looking young. If this happened in just one sitting, imagine how much this compounds after living daily in a dry climate versus a wet one.
7. Attempting to Balance Your Expenses With Rental Income Is Not a Good Idea, Especially In Today’s World
Years ago, buying a beach house could be financially managed by bringing in rental income. I had a friend who owned an oceanfront condo in Atlantic City. They were only able to go to their beach house two weeks every summer, because the house was booked solid with renters. All of the money they received went into management, cleaning fees, mortgage, and beach house insurance cost, and repairs. After 30 years, they essentially got a free million-dollar beach house. For a lot of people, this is a win-win situation, and it inspires them to try their luck doing the same. However, this story is the best case scenario. It doesn’t take into consideration that sometimes, rentals don’t do as well as you hoped because of local competition, economic recession, or a global pandemic.
Like many businesses, the pandemic changed everything. If your financial plan hinges entirely on the assumption that you can always rent your house to people, that is a huge risk, and a sign that you might not actually be able to afford it. Many beachfront bed and breakfast businesses are now being sold to private families who are rich enough to buy a 10-bedroom property. Ideally, I would recommend that if you buy a beach house, make sure you can pay for all of the expenses with your current income, even if the occupancy rate went down to 0.
6. The Ocean Air is Great For Your Lungs
When I was young, my grandmother always told me that she retired near the ocean because it helped her breathe better. She had a lung condition all her life, so it was important for her to stay near the water. I remembered this, and always went back to spend a weekend at the shore whenever I felt sick. Sure enough, it always had a way of making me feel better. A cold that would have taken a week to heal at home took only 24 hours near the ocean. A scientific study by the New England Journal of Medicine proved that breathing in salty ocean air helps relieve sinus pressure, improves breathing function, reduces coughing, and thins out mucus.
5. Mosquitos and Other Bugs Can Be a Huge Issue
Unfortunately, mosquitos are a natural consequence of living in a waterfront home. Since mosquitos breed in standing water, it makes sense that they would make babies like crazy in the spring, summer, and fall. Here at InspiringHome, I have already written a guide on how to make a natural mosquito repellent at home. This can be manageable if you are diligent in pouring out standing water and treating your yard.
When you live by the water, you also run the risk of running into horse flies, also known as gadflies. Just like mosquitos, horse flies will bite you to drink your blood. Yikes. Usually, these flies breed in a dark, wet area. In my experience, they were most common on beaches that had a shadowy, wet area under a boardwalk or bridge overpass. Personally, I think these are ten times worse than mosquitos. So be prepared to potentially call an exterminator.
4. Your Friends Always Want to Come Over
When you own a house by the water, your friends inevitably want to come over to visit. This can be an amazing, fun thing to experience. And it’s often a motivating factor to why you would want to buy a waterfront home in the first place. Having a beach house can be an amazing way to create happy memories for your own family, as well as your extended family and friends.
However, navigating friendship and your shore house can sometimes make things complicated. Friends sometimes ask if they can borrow your house for their family- as in- a free vacation. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. Many waterfront property rentals go for $2,000 to $5,000 per weekend. You need to love someone a lot to give them a deal like that for free. Talk with your partner, and lay some ground rules as to who can come over, and when.
3. Tourists Can Be Annoying
If you live in a popular vacation area, this can be both a blessing and a curse. During the off-season, it’s amazing. Half of the total population goes back to their everyday home, and the entire town becomes quiet. There is very little traffic or lines at the grocery store. Walking on an empty beach is also an amazing experience that I highly recommend to everyone. Going to the beach in the spring and fall is one of my favorite things to do.
However, as soon as Memorial Day rolls around, these vacation towns become swamped with people who are coming back to their summer homes, as well as tourists who are visiting for the weekend. Even during the Covid-19 outbreak, the highways going in and out of beach towns were packed bumper-to-bumper with cars. If you’re a local, this makes it incredibly difficult to do any normal errands like grocery shopping. People are there to party, so it can also get very loud, and difficult to sleep or function if you’re trying to commute to a 9-5 job.
2. In Vacation Towns, Some Businesses Only Operate in the Summer
One of the biggest appeals to living in a vacation area is getting to go shopping at all of the cute boutiques, restaurants, bars, and clubs. However, something most visitors never consider is the fact that many of these businesses only operate in the summer, because there simply aren’t enough customers the rest of the year. Some businesses will extend their season to the spring and autumn. But in the middle of the winter, entertainment and dining in vacation towns is practically non-existent.
For example, my favorite vacation destination, Long Beach Island, New Jersey shuts down most of its businesses in the winter. When I stay there in the off season, this forces me to drive 20 to 30 minutes to inland towns like Tuckerton, Manahawkin, and Egg Harbor to do any shopping. There are only a handful of restaurants open that locals can rely on all year long. For some people, this isn’t a big deal. But for others, they prefer to have a community that is alive all year long.
1. A Waterfront Home Provides Built-In Opportunities to Have Fun, and it Never Gets Old
Something that most people look forward to when they imagine owning a waterfront home is the fact that you have built-in opportunities to have fun. This is absolutely true. If you have a dock, you can get into a boat in your own backyard. Kayaking, fishing, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming, sunbathing, and wakeboarding or just a few things you can do in the water. These activities can also provide you with an opportunity to make new friends. Joining a yacht club to take sailing lessons or putting your kids in a surf camp is the great way to meet other families in the local area.
Thankfully, there is something about beach living that never gets old. It doesn’t matter if you have gone there every summer in your life. It still feels amazing to come back to a familiar shore town whether you’re 6 years old, or 60.