The Pros and Cons of a Waterfront Home
Waterfront properties are considered by many to represent the pinnacle of luxury living.
Types of waterfront homes include:
- estate homes on the beach
- small log cabins on private ponds
- lakeside luxury communities
- majestic mansions poised on the bluffs of large rivers
Is waterfront living for you?
No home or community is 100% perfect and it’s a good idea to fully consider the pros and cons of a waterfront home investment before purchasing.
The Downside of Living on a Waterfront Property
Living near the shore is a high-concept lifestyle – it can be fantastic for certain people in specific circumstances, yet it is not for everyone.
Some potential challenges to consider when think of buying a home on the water are:
- rising sea levels
Ask any homeowner who lives on the water, and he or she will tell you that waterfront living involves more maintenance than other homes.
The humidity, mist, erosion, and elements (including salt, if you’re on the ocean) not only impact the grounds and exterior of a waterfront house, but also the appliances and furnishings inside. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it might mean allocating a bit more toward the maintenance category of the yearly household budget.
Because living at the water’s edge is considered desirable by so many, the waterfront attracts residents and visitors alike. Waterfront living may come with the sound of your neighbor’s construction, barking dog, or weekend volleyball and BBQ events (it’s not unusual for high-end neighborhoods to have tall, opulent homes on small lot sizes).
If you’re a people-person and don’t mind the increase in visibility that often coincides with life at the water, then this may not be a downside for you. Also, if you have the resources you can get a home on a larger lot or gated community – or even acreage – that will afford you better privacy.
Typically, the further away from a cosmopolitan area the property is, the less it will cost – in real estate, you pay primarily for location, interior square footage and the size of the parcel.
The ferocity of flying insects varies by region. However, in general, the closer you are to the water, the more mosquitos there will be outdoors in the early evenings. This is especially true near lakes and ponds.
If you agree with the vast majority of today’s scientists, the sea level is rising. Eventually, this could dampen shoreline homes. The consideration is not just how rising water might impact actual residential houses, but also the infrastructure and economies of waterfront communities as a whole. Will they be underwater 80 years from now, 800 years from now, or 8000 years from now? (Come to think of it, do any homes last 800 years?)
The Benefits of Owning a Home on the Water
Life is for living, and people who choose to reside near water seem to embrace the idea that there’s more joy and serenity to be experienced at the shore than there is downtown or in the suburbs.
More time and money is typically required for the maintenance of a waterfront home. Many believe it is worth the expense.
Postponing joy is a risky business and waterfront life puts more stock in sunsets and nature-scented breezes than in the relentless over-stimulation of urban life. Potential benefits of a home near the water include:
- fresher air
- stellar views
- improved fitness
- return on investment
The closer you get to water, the more air quality tends to improve. There are exceptions, of course, but generally this is the case. There are few things more fundamental to the health of the human body than clean air.
Often, waterfront areas provide more peaceful vistas from a home’s windows and decks. There’s a reason that people put such stock in a good view. It makes a difference.
Waterfront lifestyles are simply more outdoorsy. Being outdoors is usually better for the human body than staying indoors for long stretches of time. Waterfront communities often have walking trails and pedestrian-friendly options that simply help make life more fun.
A good financial portfolio is diverse and includes some real estate.
Any investment involves risk, of course, but generally real estate in waterfront communities appreciates over the long haul. There is only so much land available near the water and the laws of economics reveal that when a desirable resource is limited, it goes up in price more steadily.
To test if this is true, choose a waterfront neighborhood that intrigues you, and ask a real estate professional what the cost of a home was there 30 years ago compared to now. Then, compare that rate of change with other neighborhoods that are similar except not near the water. Additionally, compare the rate of change with other types of investments (also ask a qualified and licensed finance professional for his or her opinion).
Daily Life in a Waterfront Home
There are all kinds of waterfront homes. Oceans, rivers, ponds, streams and lakes all provide different living experiences.
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Some homes are directly on the water, while others are merely within a waterfront neighborhood.
There are surfing shacks, organic farms with ocean views, charming single-story Italian villas nestled in coves, unassuming beach cottages, riverside condominiums, and palatial contemporary compounds near the sea replete with tennis courts and heli-pads.
Though homes that are directly on the shore are considered the most desirable, some homeowners will confess that a home that is near the water – but not on the water – can offer the additional benefits of more privacy and less maintenance. On the other hand, there is nothing like the feeling of stepping out your back door and being only a few feet from the waves.
Many beach homes are ‘second’ homes for their owners, and some waterfront homeowners rent out their homes to vacationers for part of the year. There tends to be more upkeep to a waterfront home. Some beaches are more ‘wet’ and others more ‘dry’ (the waves break further out and there is more dry sand), and some areas are more accessible to the general public than others.
If you have questions about waterfront living, I encourage you to contact us. We’re happy to help you with your real estate needs.
Speaking personally, I live at the water and find that it is my preferred way of experiencing daily life. There is a particular energy near water that I find healing and restorative. In the morning, waking up to a serene view of a large body of water is my preferred way to set-the-tone for my day ahead.
After an afternoon spent at my desk, a walk at the water before dinner is grounding and calming – especially when I can remove my shoes and feel the earth and sand beneath my bare feet.
Homes on the water are believed to provide a higher quality of daily life and therefore are an investment worthy of consideration.
- Who do you know who would find this article entertaining or useful?
- Is the waterfront lifestyle for you?
- What do you imagine would be most challenging about living in a house in a waterfront neighborhood?
- What do you believe you would enjoy most about it?