For a lot of people, myself included admittedly, the thought of living at the beach full time sounds like a dream come true. After researching this reality and speaking with a family member who recently moved to the beach, I wanted to share a few things to be aware of before you decide to make the move.
Living at the coast full time can mean year-round paradise, but it does come with its fair share of challenges and things you should be aware of before making the move.
In order to break down a few of these common discussion points, today I thought I would outline 5 potential downsides of living at the coast you should know before making the move.
Con #1: Cost of living and insurance
One of the more surprising elements to moving to the beach full time is the potential higher cost of living, depending on where you choose to move to.
While it varies state by state, the cost of groceries in many coastal areas generally are a bit more, especially for areas like peninsulas, islands, or locations where semi trucks have to travel a bit further to service.
Being cut off from major interstates will be reflected in a higher cost of these goods (particularly food) most of the time.
Another factor when it comes to cost of living are taxes and tolls. Crossing bridges and other highways can add up over time, depending on how cut off you are. In addition to high property taxes, you may also have local taxes dedicated to keeping coastal areas clean or maintained.
Hurricane and homeowners insurance
While there are some petty pros and cons to living on the beach, one of the most serious issues is hurricane-preparedness. This means that you’ll need to invest in both flood insurance and windstorm insurance, especially if you are right on the coast.
Whether you grew up on the beach or in the center of a coastal town, you’ve probably experienced a severe storm before. If you haven’t then you need to understand that hurricanes and storm season is nothing to mess around with.
Many insurance companies will give you a credit for taking these preventive measures, and homes equipped to withstand the worst exterior damage are always going to be safest. You always run the risk of wind damage and storm surge damaging your home, so insurance is something you’ll want to factor in your budget
Deductibles: Home insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance
It’s important to speak with a professional to know what coverage you’ll need to purchase in addition. As illustrated in this NerdWallet article, for hurricane coverage, your “wind deductible” could be counted as a percentage of your home value. That means a 2% payment on a $200,000 home could cost you $4,000.
You’ll want to make sure that you look into a combination of general homeowners insurance, windstorm insurance, and flood insurance. Especially if you have a newer home, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying enough to cover the whole cost of rebuilding your home no matter what may happen in the future.
Depending on what your home is valued will obviously determine what kind of coverage would be wise to have.
Con #2: Tourists and traffic
Once you’ve secured your home in paradise, you’ll have to expect a surge in visitors in many coastal areas depending on the time of year. Even if you manage to ward off your most beach-crazed friends and family, you’ll inevitably see a neighborhood boom in the summertime.
Figure out how to rope off your parking ahead of time, and avoid all the major intersections stop-and-go tourists will be moving through. One easy hack to avoid this whole headache is to rent your property out at the peak of the season.
Through websites like AirBnB you can take advantage of the property rental surge and make a little extra money while avoiding the worst parts of summer traffic.
Con #3: High-speed internet
One of the most obnoxious parts of living by the beach is having limited access to the conveniences you’ve grown used to. Without the ten-block supermarkets and department stores typical to other neighborhoods, it can be difficult to find exactly what you need when you need it.
High-speed internet is no exception, so you’ll need to do some research to find what companies provide service in your area. Based on my experience, there can be very limited options and lack of high speed connectively on islands, so keep that in mind if you plan to work from home.
As illustrated in the image below as found on broadbandnow.com, the fastest internet speeds are generally near major cities, and not near rural and many coastal areas.
Different regions are serviced by different providers, and you’ll need to shop around to find the rate and plan that works for you.
This will be especially important if you’re thinking about renting out your home at any point in the year, guests will need wifi-access no matter how long they’re staying.
Con #4: Property taxes
It’s wild how much more valuable your property becomes once it’s on the beach. Two houses could have the exact same floor plan and amenities, but if one sits on the shore it will obviously cost significantly more.
As long as you’re careful and keep up with any outdoor repairs and indoor remodeling, you’ll see your property value rise over the years, and be grateful you got in when you did. That being said, before you make any decisions make sure to look into property tax rates in the area you want to move to, and plan accordingly.
As an example, in South Carolina, property taxes are the 7th lowest in the country according to studies, which makes coastal living significantly more affordable than in places like New Jersey, where property taxes will be higher.
One idea is to find an experienced broker that works exclusively in maritime property sales to weigh the pros and cons of potentially higher home prices or property taxes.
They should be able to tell you what material the shoreline is made up of, what recreational activities are nearby, and the makeup of the neighborhood.
Con #5: Living in a beach town vs city
This could be perceived as a pro or con and really depends on what you prefer. Beach towns come with a slower pace of life, perfect for fitting in long walks on the beach, and mild sunsets.
A unique aspect of small beach towns are typically the local pubs, restaurants, and bars around town that go largely unnoticed by tourists.
Especially if the traffic your beach town gets is relatively seasonal and local, you really won’t have to worry about it being too busy outside of major summer holidays.
Today, there are tons of lists compiled online with all the info and stats for the best beach towns in America. While the cost of waterfront property may run pretty high, there are plenty of affordable towns to live in, where the cost of living will balance out the cost of ownership.
Living in a major coastal city
Of course, with any beach city comes a healthy dose of nightlife. Full moon parties, bonfires, and even beachfront nightclubs are all things you can expect to find in highly populated beach cities like Miami.
If nightlife is really your thing, and you don’t mind the crowds, a big city like San Diego or Miami may be perfect. You’ll also retain access to some of the conveniences of city life and entertainment venues, as well as a pro sports team many times, which is something that really can help to connect the community.
If these cons don’t scare you off, living at the beach can be a great option. I personally love the beach and having the option to escape to a second home is a good reason for many people to buy.
Since there is only so much beachfront property to go around, a vacation rental or smaller home that isn’t beachfront can save you a TON of money while still providing convenient beach access.
If you’re thinking of making the switch full-time, check out my post, 10 Budget-Friendly Exterior and Interior Beach House Upgrades you may want to consider.