Saturday, June 24

Living in a Beach Town

Is living in a beach town it worth it? Unless you are living someplace ridiculously remote, plan on a higher than normal cost of living. Housing costs could very well be astronomical vs. potential income in the local area. Wages are frequently kept artificially low in resort areas, because people are willing to work for next to nothing, except a little sunshine. The specifics depend upon the area, but it is more or less universally true.

Good Times and Sunshine

That might be a great trade-off you are young and dumb, but becomes increasingly less so over time. Everyone does age though and not always gracefully. Employment in tourism related industries might not be as viable or lucrative in your advancing years. I suppose that leads to the question, how do you do it? How do you make living in a beach town happen?

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Owning a business that caters to visitors is a good option if you have some experience in that industry. Picking it up on the fly might work if your thresh-hold for pain is particularly high. Read Herman Wouk’s excellent, Don’t Stop the Carnival, for some insight into this path. It is a hysterical story about selling everything and moving to paradise. The story’s hero, Norman Paperman, drops his Marketing job in the city and buys a decayed resort in the Virgin Islands. Its not very applicable as a business guide, but its good for some laughs and should open your eyes to some unexpected pitfalls you can’t possibly anticipate. This novel has recently been turned into a musical by Jimmy Buffett. I can’t comment on the quality of the show, but its most likely entertaining.

Harsh Financial Realities of Living in a Beach Town

Commuting from a major urban area is certainly a viable possibility to live in a beach town. It will depend how much you are willing to travel to make this your reality. I grew up in a little New Jersey beach town about 45 miles south of Manhattan, Sea Girt. A block away from our house, a couple men gathered every morning at 4:45 to take the bus into the city. They returned at night about 7pm. Most of these gentlemen probably never uttered a complaint, until they retired many years later. That is one to live comfortably in a beach town, for sure!

It does require that you have world class skills that are in demand. Looking back, I don’t think its that easy for most people. Is that even an option anymore?

Miami, Barcelona and a host of other Spanish speaking beach spots are more affordable alternatives with better weather. But can you really expect to support yourself well there?
Years of bouncing around has shown me that the most common 4 ways to live in an awesome beach town requires you to be:

1) Independently wealthy
2) Retired
3) Medical or legal professional
4) Work remotely or telecommute

The first three are pretty self-explanatory. Being able to earn a living online isn’t chasing fool’s gold anymore. The proliferation of cheap high speed internet has opened up numerous opportunities to live in exotic and wonderful beach towns, that were previously exclusively available to the modern equivalent to the “beautiful people”.

Services from customer service to medical and legal consulting can now be done almost entirely online. Most traditional industries now have online components that no longer require your Dilbert like attendance in a cubicle. Of course, employees, or better yet, contractors, may need to hustle a little more than their forefathers did. No loyalty past tomorrow exists in this economy, but that does not need to be a bad thing. On the contrary, that should be used to your benefit!

Choosing to live in a picturesque beach town is not the most imaginative idea you will ever have. But you do to make that happen is where things get interesting.

Living in a beach town, besides money what do you need?

Unique job skills that are both scarce and in-demand afford opportunities that may not exist otherwise. Specialization makes this happen. For my day job, I have been working freelance marketing contracts for a very long time. Since 2000, I have worked in an office for a total of 2 years. Recently, while compiling some research for an ebook on Choosing your Niche, I saw a survey of doctor’s incomes. In short, they increased exponentially with specialization.

So it doesn’t seem like rocket science to put this together. If living in a beach town is your goal, you need to get some killer skills that people will pay through the nose for and then you can create your own future. Of course, you are now competing directly on a global scale which vastly increases your opportunities to score gigs anywhere. If you don’t fine tune your skills, you might find yourself competing with people willing to work for a fraction of what you are.

Problems with living in a beach town

The problem with that, is your dream place by the beach in Maui isn’t getting cheaper. So the question remains about the affordability of living well in a beach town, if you aren’t a trust-fund baby or retiree.

Is living in a beach town worth it?

There is a huge added expense or a value added tax to enjoying life on the beach, some frequent hassles related to tourists and also potentially reduced wages. Those are definite downsides that cannot be discounted or lightly ignored. However, in my little world, the answer is a resounding yes. Absolutely, unless you have an affinity for corn fields or the mountains. Figuring it out, makes it taste that much sweeter.

Seriously, check into some variant of online sales if you need to have a really nice view.