Have $500,000? Here Are Five Waterfront Homes for You.

Size 565 square feet

The home This studio has a distinct beachy feel, with white cedar floors and large windows that overlook the bay and are prime viewing spots to catch picturesque sunsets. The full-size kitchen has white finishes and a long counter that doubles as a bar with seating. The sleeping area has a folding wooden partition for privacy.

Outdoor space The apartment has a bay-facing balcony that’s large enough to accommodate a table with four chairs.

Taxes about $40 a month, with $560 in homeowner fees

Avoid top destinations Waterfront locations that already have a thriving real estate market and are in high demand are inevitably more expensive than less established spots. “You’re going to pay a markup on a property in a popular destination,” said Cicely Wedgeworth, managing editor for news and insights at realtor.com. If you’re keen on a particular location, but it’s out of your price range — Riviera Maya, Mexico, for example — you can probably find a less pricey home in a nearby region that offers the same beautiful beaches, but isn’t as well known.

Opt for a two-bedroom condo Rich Barnhart, owner of By the Sea Realty in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which sells waterfront properties, said two-bedroom waterfront apartments offer the most value. Homes that are three or four bedrooms are hard to come by and more costly because demand for them is so great. Mr. Barnhart added that one-bedroom condominiums tended not to hold their value and were not the best investment. However, they are an inexpensive option for second-home buyers who don’t need extra space and plan to hang on to the property.

Consider lakefront properties Generally, homes on or near lakes are more affordable than beachfront ones, Ms. Wedgeworth said. Buyers also have more choices to pick from. “There are more interior regions with lakes than there is coastline, which comes at a premium,” she said. “You can get more for your money and find a larger property for less on a lakefront.”

Forgo the amenities While most waterfront developments or buildings have swimming pools, expect to pay more for resort-style amenities like spas, restaurants and beachside food and cabana service. If these extras aren’t a priority, your cost of living — the home’s upfront price and its monthly maintenance fee — will be lower.

Location matters Where you buy within a particular destination or even within a building can significantly impact prices. Oceanfront properties, for instance, are more expensive than those that are a short walk to the water. “Oceanfront costs more to maintain and insure,” Mr. Barnhart said. “These buildings also tend to have round-the-clock security, which significantly increases monthly common charges.” Where your unit is situated in the building also changes the cost because homes with intracoastal or canal views command far lower prices than direct oceanfront properties.

Skip turnkey properties While fully furnished, renovated homes are popular options in waterfront markets, they are also more expensive than unfurnished properties that may need some work. “You’re going to pay a premium for the convenience of a home that’s ready to move into, but if you’re willing to undergo renovations yourself or live in a property that may be outdated, you can save a large amount of money,” Mr. Barnhart said.

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