Many people who vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii leave with dreams of living next to the ocean or in a home on the beach. Choosing such a location for your Hawaii home can be an extraordinary adventure. The Kona Coast? North Kohala? East Hawaii? Puna?
Once you’ve found your perfect home you’ll be spending your days enjoying beautiful Pacific Ocean views and an endless horizon, relaxing in cooling breezes coming off the water or ending the day with a mai tai on your lanai – oceanfront living makes all these experiences possible.
There are also some unique challenges that come with owning an oceanfront home. Before making the decision to purchase that beachfront property, future Hawaii home owners will need to factor in the additional maintenance and expense of oceanfront home ownership. After living in a beachfront home in Hilo for almost three years, these are a few lessons I’ve learned:
Salt Spray and Metal – There’s a Shelf Life
The number one issue for the oceanfront homeowner is dealing with the everyday reality of salt spray. Salt does a real job on anything metal. A metal shovel or wheelbarrow stored outside will last about one year at an oceanfront home. Same with an outdoor BBQ grill. Whenever possible, construction materials need to be selected with the corrosive effects of salt spray in mind. Lanais, for example, last longer when built using coated screws, or, preferably, the more expensive stainless steel screws. Attention (and annual rust-proofing) needs to be given to propane tanks, post and pier mounts and other outdoor brackets.
Electronics – To Warranty or Not to Warranty?
Computers, televisions and sound systems will need repair or replacement frequently if extreme care is not provided. We have learned that it is better to not turn off a personal computer when it is not in use — the heat generated while it is running helps prevent moisture accumulation and damage from salt build-up.
Extended warranty plans are a must, in my opinion. Buying a $40 two-year protection plan may save $300-$400 on repairs to an outside grill (as we discovered after about one year from the purchase of our grill, which we kept covered when not in use). It is also important to check the fine print in buying an add-on warranty, because some specifically exclude their applicability if used at an ocean side location.
Doors and Windows – Someone Has to Do It!
Salt spray is also an issue with sliding doors and, of course, makes keeping windows clean a challenge. You may have chosen a beachfront site for the ocean view, but to maintain that from inside your home you’ll need to plan for frequent window and screen cleanings. We’ve discovered that plastic outdoor furniture is also definitely the way to go.
Impact on Costs
It is probably safe to say that if you do not live in a location where salt water is a factor for you, your maintenance budget for a beachfront property will probably need to be doubled and your repair budget might need to be 2.5 to three times what it is currently. However, if your property taxes will decrease with your move to Hawaii, the budget conscious buyer may find that this helps offset some of the added maintenance costs.
But Is It Worth It?
Some former oceanfront property owners like to paraphrase the old joke originally applied to buying a sail boat — the two happiest days of their lives were the day they bought their ocean side house and the day they sold it.
However, from my perspective, as one who lives on the ocean, the advantages far outweigh the negatives. Spectacular sunrises or sunsets and the lulling sounds of the surf at night can and do vastly over compensate for the difficulties that go along with such a lifestyle choice. Looking up from reading a book to watch humpback whales at play or see a passing cruise ship disappearing in the distance, those are the priceless moments that oceanfront living afford.
If I can assist you in your search for an oceanfront Big Island property, please contact me. I’ll share a few maintenance tips with you as we tour the homes for sale on the ocean – our list of tips and tricks is getting longer each month!