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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Pat Mertz Esswein, Associate Editor
| Summer 2016
Summer is upon us, and that means you're likely headed to the water -- your just-opened local pool, perhaps, or better yet, your favorite ocean- or lakefront community. Dip your toes in the water, soak in the sun, and feel life’s stresses drift away with the tide.
Now wouldn't it be great if you could live there -- all summer long?
You may think a dream vacation home on the water or with a water view starts at a million bucks. But there are plenty of options from coast to coast in the $475,000 to $700,000 range, for a really nice, ready-to-move-in place. You'll face less competition and have a bit more bargaining power now that vacation-home sales have cooled after a peak in 2014, when bargain-hunting baby boomers at or near retirement led to tighter supply and rising prices.
Before you dive in, consider the total cost of vacation-home ownership. As with any home, you'll owe property taxes, homeowners insurance and possibly flood insurance, which is required in flood zones designated by FEMA. Don't overlook the costs of transportation to and from the home, recreational equipment and maintenance (such as replacing weathered or salt-corroded components, and opening and closing the property for the season).
We've rounded up 10 attractive vacation homes for sale in the $470,000 to $700,000 price range, in popular destinations around the country. Take a look.
Courtesy: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest Real Estate
Square footage: 1,701
Listed for: $469,000
Taxes in 2015: $5,008
Located on the Pacific Coast 80 miles west of Portland, this home -- the lowest-priced among our collection -- sits on a high bank just steps from the white-sand beach below. Not far from Cape Meares Lighthouse, it offers views of Netarts Spit and Three Arch Rocks, a wildlife refuge where you can spot puffins, sea lions and more.
Built in 1992, the Craftsman-style, split-level home has two master suites, a great room with fireplace, a den, a one-car garage and a deck, where you can watch the sun set over the ocean. The planned, gated community has a homeowners association (monthly dues: $246) and includes a facility for social gatherings and meetings, a tennis court, a bocce ball lawn and a picnic area.
SEE ALSO: 9 Great Places to Retire Abroad
Courtesy: Barnes & Sothebys International Realty
Square footage: 1,460
Listed for: $679,000
Taxes in 2015: $7,369
Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cambria is minutes from the Hearst Castle at San Simeon Park and about a half-hour by car from San Luis Obispo, where you can get your fill of food, drink, art and entertainment.
Built in 1998, this in-town home is within walking distance of Moonstone Beach and its boardwalk. The house includes cathedral ceilings, a great room with fireplace, a one-car garage and a spacious deck. The third bedroom is a loft, accessible by a spiral staircase.
Courtesy: Sugar Lake Lodge Real Estate
Square footage: N/A
Bathrooms: 1 full, 5 half
Listed for: $625,000
Taxes in 2015: N/A
This former Northwoods resort could be your family retreat, with 10 bedrooms in all. Located six miles north of the town of Grand Rapids and 184 miles north of Minneapolis, the property occupies a flat point of land surrounded by 1,230 feet of shoreline on Prairie Lake.
The main residence has two large bedrooms and a bath, a stone fireplace and a large deck. Two guesthouses each have a bedroom and vaulted loft. Three cabins each have two bedrooms. Guesthouses and cabins have kitchenettes, so you needn't see your company for breakfast. And there's more: a two-car garage, a workshop, an ice-fishing house, a playground and three docks.
SEE ALSO: What $1 Million Buys You in Today's Housing Market
Courtesy: Mississippi Valley Realty
Square footage: 1,750
Listed for: $499,000
You can see for miles across the Mississippi River Valley from atop this bluff, located 31 miles south of La Crosse, Wisc., and 91 miles north of Dubuque, Iowa. Visitors come here to boat, fish and hunt.
This house, built in 2013, has a great room with a wall of windows that open to a large deck. The master bedroom is on the main level, and a finished, walkout basement includes a rec room. Public boat landings with parking are minutes away.
Courtesy: Coastline Properties. Photos by Jason Page.
Square footage: 2,458
Acreage: 0.2 acres
Listed for: $699,900
Taxes in 2015: $14,872
A snowbird destination, Corpus Christi is about 140 miles from San Antonio and 200 miles from Houston. This home is located on Padre Island, which separates Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The neighborhood is laid out around canals that feed into the bay and provide access to a variety of waterways, where water sports of all kinds flourish. It's just north of the Padre Island National Seashore.
Built in 2013, this Colonial-Revival-style home is the most expensive house in our roundup. It has a first-floor master suite that opens to a rear deck and in-ground swimming pool. The property comes with a boat dock and boat lift, with room for guests to park their boats when they come for cocktails.
SEE ALSO: 7 Places That Will Pay You to Live There
Courtesy: Howard Hanna Catawba
Square footage: 2,903
Listed for: $545,000
Taxes in 2015: $5,865
Visitors come to Port Clinton, on the north shore of Lake Erie halfway between Toledo and Cleveland, to boat, fish, take the ferries to the islands, ride the renowned roller coasters at Cedar Point and watch auto racing at Cedar Lake Speedway. When you're tired of the attractions, you can retire to this two-story home with 125 feet of waterfront on Sandusky Bay.
Built in 1984, the house has an open floor plan, a family room with a wood-burning fireplace, a three-season room (it's unheated in winter), a huge backyard, a fenced-in patio with an above-ground pool, a second-story deck, a hot tub and a boat ramp.
Courtesy: Chalmers Realty
Square footage: 2,056
Listed for: $559,000
Located in the Lakes Region of Maine, about 45 miles northwest of Portland, this home comes with 250 feet of waterfront (150 feet owned and 100 feet shared) on Highland Lake. Built in 2000, the house has a cathedral ceiling and wood stove in the living room, a master bedroom and bath on the first floor, a screened porch, a deck, a walkout basement and a dock. Nearby Bridgton Highlands Golf & Tennis Club is open to the public.
SEE ALSO: 10 Amazingly Tiny Apartments
Courtesy: Keller Williams Realty
Square footage: 1,398
Listed for: $475,000
This classic New England beach town is 20 miles south of Portland and 97 miles north of Boston. The cottage-style home is less than a block away from seven miles of sand beach and a half-mile from the pier and restaurants.
Built in 1900, the house features a wraparound porch, a hot tub and a rooftop deck, where you can watch the weekly fireworks display in the summer.
Courtesy: Keller Williams -- Lake Lure
Square footage: 1,478
Listed for: $649,000
Taxes in 2015: $4,186
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure is located 30 miles southeast of Asheville and 91 miles northwest of Charlotte. Water sports dominate here, but you can golf on a public course or visit nearby Chimney Rock State Park.
Built in 1998, this cottage-bungalow-style house features an open floor plan with a cathedral ceiling and a wood-burning fireplace, a spiral staircase, a second-floor master suite, and two covered decks. The boathouse, with boat lift, was built in 2014.
SEE ALSO: How Smart of a Home Buyer Are You?
Courtesy: Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate -- Ft. Lauderdale Beach
Square footage: 2,044
Listed for: $549,500
Taxes in 2015: $3,154
Midway between Miami to the south and Palm Beach to the north, Pompano Beach is known for its fishing (Pompano is a sought after game fish), boating, diving, snorkeling and surfing. Visitors take advantage of the city's 3.5-mile Atlantic beach and its fishing pier.
Built in 1958, this single-story rambler backs to a deepwater canal that feeds into the Intracoastal Waterway and, from there, the Atlantic. The home has an open floor plan, impact-resistant windows and doors, plantation shutters and a Florida room that opens to a patio with a saltwater swimming pool. It has a private dock that will accommodate up to a 40-foot boat. Golfers can play 18 holes on the city's municipal course, which was redesigned by pro golfer Greg Norman.