Oceanfront property?
March 3, 2009 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Are there any areas of the coastal United States where one can live on the oceanfront relatively cheaply?

Let's say a person wanted to rent a cabin or cottage on the oceanfront to live for a year or longer, preferably in an area that's relatively uninhabited/undeveloped, without regard to where it's located. Let's also say this person isn't obscenely wealthy. Are there any particular areas of the country where this might be feasible?
posted by iamisaid to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
How cheap is cheap? And is the Gulf of Mexico acceptable?
posted by box at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2009

Far north in Maine? How cheap is cheaply? (For example, monthly costs...)
posted by jeanmari at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2009

Open to all options. Cheap as in under $1000/month, the less the better.
posted by iamisaid at 11:33 AM on March 3, 2009

Coastal Washington County in Maine may still have some oceanfront lots that won't set you back a ton, and would more than adequately fulfill your "relatively uninhabited/underdeveloped" criteria. I have also read of Americans looking for a quiet oceanside home buying even cheaper land along the coast in New Brunswick.
posted by mikeg at 11:34 AM on March 3, 2009

If by oceanfront you'll accept lake front, and being in the middle of nowhere, the Great lakes have lots of that space still available.
posted by 517 at 11:35 AM on March 3, 2009

might be cheaper if you do this on a great lake. superior comes to mind.
posted by lester at 11:37 AM on March 3, 2009

Also, let me reiterate that I'm referring only to rental situations, not purchasing a home or property.
posted by iamisaid at 11:37 AM on March 3, 2009

2nding Great Lakes (seriously way isolated, if you don't mind the occasional blizzard) and also the Gulf Coast has some options if you don't mind the occasional hurricane(e.g., roughly near Pensacola/southern AL).
posted by December at 11:45 AM on March 3, 2009

Do you mean literally on the water and do you need a house, apartment or room?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2009

Washington and Oregon have many, many out of the way places. You might also want to look in Canada (Sooke, outside of Victoria), where your dollar will go farther (for the time being, that is).
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:57 AM on March 3, 2009

Ah, I see you mention a cabin or cottage. I asked because most of the smaller towns up and down California's coast have rental apartments at least for around and under $1000, but a cottage removed a bit from town and right on the water would typically cost more. It's not completely outside the realm of possibility, but yeah, for really isolated and really cheap, it's less likely. No blizzards, though!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:01 PM on March 3, 2009

Cabins in Alaska with wood heat can be very cheap, and are often in undeveloped areas.
posted by yohko at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you are talking about ocean front as in step out your door onto the beach, I don't think you can get a bedroom let alone an entire dwelling for a grand a month, regardless of where you are. Now, if you're willing to be a few blocks inland, you probably have quite a few more options. Seriously, you probably need $1,500 even for a beach shack if you want waterline. Or, if you have the cash up front for a visa, try Baja California. Last I checked Mexico was still a lot more affordable.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:19 PM on March 3, 2009

I live on an island in Maine, off Portland. Houses on the water are pricey, but the water's not more than a quarter mile away no matter where you are. It's not cheap to live here, exactly, since you have to take the ferry any time you want to go off the island, oil and gas are more expensive, etc etc. That said, there's a number of rentals here for around $1000 a month. That's just rent -- it's not clear whether you're looking for $1000 rent or $1000 total living expenses.

On the other hand, there's a ton of coast in Maine. If you can stand being near very little except rocks and trees, you can definitely find something somewhere in Maine.
posted by rusty at 12:26 PM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

According to Craigslist, there are lots of apartments for around $1000/month in Venice, CA Most of them don't appear to be directly on the beach but are well within walking distance. I hear that they have a problem with the homeless using people's yards as public restrooms, though.
posted by katillathehun at 12:31 PM on March 3, 2009

Oh, and Venice is probably the direct opposite of "uninhabited." A place like that is going to be tough to find.
posted by katillathehun at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2009

There are still quite a few working fishing villages on the Maine coast. Some on islands. I know you can get pretty cheap rentals there in the winter most of the spring and most of the fall. But you can't escape summer rates.
posted by WickedPissah at 12:36 PM on March 3, 2009

you could try charleston, sc. i grew up there and it's not too expensive. your best bet is to get there now before it finished convincing itself that its hilton head or myrtle beach
posted by Davaal at 12:41 PM on March 3, 2009

Forget Charleston. I grew up there too and it's long since convinced itself that it's Hilton Head - it's really expensive. You can't rent even a horrible shack on Folly for less than $1500 a month anymore. However, what about Edisto? I have no idea but it might be worth a try.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:56 PM on March 3, 2009

When I was think "uninhabited" in California, I was looking at Lompoc, Oceano and Moss Landing. Those are small, unprestigious hamlets on the water. North of the bay there are others, of course, but those three I mention have the confluence of inexpensive agricultural worker housing in the vicinity and ocean access.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:57 PM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The southern Oregon coast is inexpensive enough that you can ALMOST find what you're looking for there, but you're unlikely to find something affordable actually ON the oceanfront. Those tend to be set aside for the more lucrative daily / weekly vacation rental market.

However, for general cost info, here are some rental listings (and some more) from Curry County, which includes Gold Beach and Brookings.
posted by dersins at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

California's tricky. You could find some funky places between the southern metropolises, but you'd probably have more luck in northern California. The central section of the state between Cambria and Big Sur is either very expensive land, or part of the State Parks. There are some little towns between the two, so you might find something appealing there (though the cost of living beyond rent might be considerably higher - Gordo was the one of the first towns in California to have $5/gal for gas.

The California Coastal Records Project is a fun way to view the entirety of the California coastline. The pictures are all high quality, but don't go too far inland (though that could be enough for your purposes). Used in conjunction with Google Maps, you can learn a lot about the lay of the land without having to go there.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on March 3, 2009

If you're looking to rent, Northeast Florida (in and around St. Augustine, for instance) is full of amazing deals.
posted by saladin at 1:35 PM on March 3, 2009

I would offer further support for the coast of Maine, as many others already have. Even if you live in Portland away from the coast, amazing views of the open ocean are never far away. I would proffer few cities offer such access to open ocean close to an urban area.
posted by ALB209 at 1:37 PM on March 3, 2009

I think some of the more gristly sounding beaches (Broadkill, Slaughter, Primehook) in rural Delaware have close-to-waterfront property for that price range.
It's not oceanfront though, but it is bayfront. I didn't think of that until I started typing but I wanted to mention the area anyway.
posted by 8dot3 at 3:31 PM on March 3, 2009

The West coast of Washington is VERY remote, and prices are quite low, compared to other coastal property. the downside is that it takes forever to get there, and forever to get anywhere from there.
posted by Danf at 3:32 PM on March 3, 2009

If ocean isn't essential, consider Beaver Island on Lake Michigan. 30 miles off the coast. lakefront under $1000. 600 full-time inhabitants.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:43 PM on March 3, 2009

It is very easy to do in Alaska. Towns like homer, dillingham, seward.
posted by Flood at 5:49 PM on March 3, 2009

I was snooping around the Aberdeen, WA area and found pretty much exactly what you are looking for in the Copalis Beach area among others. Now you've got me considering it!
posted by zhivota at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2009

The southeast part of Alaska is definitely a place you should look at. There are a lot of small towns in the area, and you could probably find a place to live in your price range. Some towns to consider: Petersburg, Haines, Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Wrangell, Craig. While the communities of Sitka and Juneau are bigger, you might not be able to find what you want at an acceptable price. There is a LOT of wilderness around there, and since you can't drive to many of these places, only fly or take a ferry, they are fairly remote. There is a lot of coastline, and it doesn't actually get that cold because the ocean keeps the climate mild. Think above freezing for many days in winter, especially in the southern part of the region. The region has lots of opportunities for fishing and whale-watching, hiking, and sea-kayaking.

Here's a good web resource for the area: www.sitnews.us. They have free postings of classified ads for the Ketchikan area, and you could post an ad of what you're looking for if you decide to consider it.
posted by cronology at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2009

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