If you’re considering purchasing a lake house or a beach house, I thought it may be helpful today to share my firsthand experience in living in both.
When I was 12, I moved to a waterfront lake house in a small community, and later spent time at a non-waterfront beach house. While both can be great investments, I’ll share a few differences based on my personal firsthand experience.
While some people may tell you a lake house is much better than a beach house, it really is up to you to make that decision.
In this blog post, I’ll cover a few key areas of consideration to help you make an informed decision based on your preferences.
Living lakefront: community and noise
One of the biggest differences in living lakefront for over 10 years is the amount of traffic you are likely to experience and the makeup of the community. In general, you simply don’t have the number of tourists on most non-ocean bodies of water outside of boat launches in general.
Personally, the nature of the community was drastically different as well, since many communities near the coast have more of a party or simply casual environment, where living lakefront year-round was no different than any other community I have spent time in.
Lake life: quieter in general
Unless you plan to purchase property on one of the Great Lakes, or a large lake like Lake Norman in North Carolina, you usually don’t have to worry about noise at your house.
Keep in mind, that on some summer days, you are likely to encounter lots of tourists renting lake houses and on docks, but the amount of traffic on the roads typically isn’t near as bad.
You simply don’t have one main bridge or highway all tourists must use (like many beaches do) to enter the lake, so this really isn’t a factor.
Lakes and rivers are less crowded..with some exceptions
Keep in mind that there are exceptions to the rule that lake towns are less crowded than beach towns. For example, areas like Lake Tahoe in California/Nevada have shorelines that can look a bit like Miami Beach during peak season.
If you are seeking a less noisy experience at the lake, one variable to consider is the number of public boat ramps and whether or not the lake or reservoir is a known tourist hotspot.
When it comes to noise levels and traffic, you really only have to be concerned about traffic on the body of water itself.
Tip: If you are looking to purchase a vacation home on a lake and are concerned about noise levels and traffic, purchasing inside of a private or gated subdivision without rental options is generally a good strategy.
Much of the seasonal lake traffic you’re likely to experience is in and around lake house rentals. Finding a small lake or reservoir that doesn’t attract as many tourists in a residential area is a good strategy if you’re looking for a less noisy experience.
Living beachfront: community and noise
When it comes to living beachfront, most beaches will experience a spike in traffic during the summer months for much of the United States, with a spike of winter visitors for states like Florida and Hawaii.
Speaking from personal experience, living near the beach has been much quieter year-round than just 10 minutes away, partly due to the fact that the home was located on the sound side of the beach.
In many states, living in an inlet can be much less noisy in general, since they don’t attract spring breakers or high rise hotel developers for the most part.
Nightlife and attractions near the beach
If you are into nightlife, selecting a beachfront home or beach-adjacent home in a major city or tourist destination like Jacksonville, Florida is a great option.
As a kid, going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was a fun experience growing up because of the atmosphere and attractions, and not a bad option if you have younger kids.
Depending on where you are looking, a beach home in relative proximity to a large coastal city like Jacksonville, for example, can offer the best of both worlds.
I personally enjoy sports, so finding a home in relative proximity to a major sports town like Miami, Tampa, or Jacksonville is also a selling point. While small beaches I love, having a team to rally around as a community definitely is a selling point for those larger towns.
Living lakefront vs beachfront: cost of living
One of the main differences when it comes to the cost of living is food prices. Since many trucks don’t have hubs near many small beach towns (or are required to travel over a network of bridges), this can lead to an increase in food prices, simply due to the fact that it costs more to deliver it.
For lakes, the cost of dining is significantly less than anywhere near the beach for the most part. For major beach communities near Miami or other popular tourist destinations, dining options will be significantly higher for the most part.
Especially for themed restaurants near the coast, food and beverage prices can be 5 to 10 times as expensive based on my experience.
Owning vs renting your lot
For many coastal communities, one of the biggest factors when it comes to homeownership is whether or not you own the lot. Having a mobile home near the coast for around 10 years, one of the things to ask before purchasing property is whether or not you own the lot or rent the lot.
This can make a significant difference in the long run, since financing a lot you will eventually own may be the better overall decision.
On the other hand, if you don’t plan to live at the coast long term and are considering upgrading at some point, it may not be as big of a deal. In general, coastal mobile home parks are much more likely to rent you the lot as opposed to inland property.
Overall, being on a body of water is a great thing, no matter where you are looking for a second or primary home.
There is a lot more affordable waterfront property on many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs throughout America than oceanfront property. If it’s the waterfront views you’re seeking, I would recommend a lake or reservoir for value.
On the other hand, you simply don’t have the seafood or general coastal vibes living on a lake, so it’s really up to you!
If you are considering going coastal, be sure to check out my post 5 Cons of Living at the Beach Full Time.