Agent Insights Property Market Insights

Room With A View: The Calming Benefits of Waterside Living

Living by the waterside, whether lake or ocean, is good for the soul. Read our expert advice on the opportunities offered by such well-appointed homes

“It’s peaceful and soothing to be waterside. I live on a creek that is off the intracoastal waterway, and the wildlife—from fish jumping to egrets dining on minnows—and just the simple rise and lowering of the tide soothes my soul,” says Christy Cooper Whitlock of The Lachicotte Company, which covers Pawley’s Island, Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Linda Granger of Granger Group Tahoe in California agrees: “There is a fun and vibrant energy around lake living, yet still so much calm and serenity.”

Cooper Whitlock and Granger are not alone in finding waterside living attractive, be it a lake or the ocean. According to North American Moving Services’ 2021 US Migration Report, new remote work opportunities enabled more than 14 million Americans to relocate in 2021—a 20 percent increase on the previous year (with upper estimates as high as 23 million). While exact figures are hard to come by it is believed that coastal states including New York, New Jersey, and California, along with Illinois and Michigan in the Midwest, were the most popular for outbound moves.

I believe that we have something to offer everyone, from a condo by the sea to waterfront estates. We love to say that many come for a visit but stay for a lifetime—Nancy Siau, The Lachicotte Company

There are many reasons for this, believes Cooper Whitlock’s colleague Kathy Besse. “Living by water is a lifestyle. It offers not only relaxation but activity. Boating, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing, chasing sunsets… It is also healing. The pandemic emphasized this even more—if people were to be confined or working remotely the draw of the water was very compelling.”

So, if you decide that living waterside is for you, what should you consider in a property? “Elevation, and that it’s in good condition,” says Philip Hillier of H.G. Christie in the Bahamas. “The sea air can be hard on a home near the water. One wants to check that the property was solidly built and has been maintained.”

Panoramic views from St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Thomas is the gateway isle of the U.S. Virgin Islands, known for its stunning beaches and snorkelling opportunities. Pictured is one of the highest and most popular panoramic views on the island. Credit: Getty Images

When buying on or near the beach, Nick Van Assche, partner and broker at Christie’s International Real Estate | the Saints, also recommends checking whether your chosen sandy oasis will accumulate seaweed—sargassum has become a major issue in the Caribbean where he operates.

Cooper Whitlock advises considering flood history and insurance as well as navigability for your chosen aquatic recreation, costs of bulkhead if needed, and tide depth at low and high tide. “Buyers are looking for pedestrian access to water. They want views, they want a place to either store their boats or a lift with access to waterways and creeks.”

Granger agrees that storage is “always helpful. Someone who is a boater needs to think about boat storage, buoys, and—if they aren’t going to be leaving their boat in the water—a good flat space to park the boat and trailer. And of course, everyone wants views, to see the water and as much of it as possible.”

In the Caribbean, “the most in-demand feature is water access,” says Van Assche. “The second most in-demand feature for waterfront living is a dock. Docks are extremely rare in our market.”

Beautiful Lake Tahoe with clear water and green trees
Freshwater Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains that straddle the border between California and Nevada, is known for its beaches and ski resorts. Credit: Getty Images

Hillier reports that international buyers keen on waterside living are also looking for homes with proximity to an airport. “Being able to pop in with ease for a long weekend is desirable.” Restaurants and nightlife nearby are also in demand, he says, as are homes in gated secure communities with good facilities. As well as travel options he suggests buyers look for “a property where you can add value, be it renovating or adding features such as a tennis court.”

Granger, on the other hand, reports that her clients are more interested in homes that are move-in ready. “They don’t want to do a bunch of work due to lack of subs, contractors, and so on.” When it comes to investing in Lake Tahoe, where she operates, she advises considering increasing equity over time and potential rental income. “I always have my eyes open for waterfront homes,” says Van Assche. “They typically command higher rates. They also hold their value well.”

Next time you take a waterside vacation, don’t be surprised if you come back with the notion of investing in a property there. “Our area is compelling because of access to five rivers, the Atlantic Ocean, and numerous creeks, lakes, and ponds. It’s a boater’s or water-lover’s paradise,” says Nancy Siau of The Lachicotte Company. “I believe that we have something to offer everyone, from a condo by the sea to waterfront estates. We love to say that many come for a visit but stay for a lifetime.”

On the Market

Large wooden window frame with a chair and lamp looking onto water
This property offers plenty of living space and multiple French doors opening on to a riverside porch and terraced lawn. Spacious guest quarters over the carriage house garage and a separate artist's studio complete this idyllic offering.

Caribbean-Style Retreat, Pawleys Island, South Carolina, U.S.A. 

This Barbados-influenced home, sitting 25 feet (7.6 m) above the Intracoastal Waterway, is designed so that every room has at least three light changes throughout the day. On the market with The Lachicotte Company, the property is constructed on the footprint of the original house that stood on this site until the 1800s, making clever use of reclaimed bricks. The estate feels connected to the land, with ground-level terraces and sensational views taking in pastures on one side, and the best of waterside living with a river on the other, as well as historical rice fields and private boat dock.

Covered deck area with seating and waterside views
A collector’s paradise, this property is home to a prized collection of West Indian antique furniture, and sits upon a tropical landscape made up of royal palms and unique native plant species.

Nautical Treasure, U.S. Virgin Islands

The waterfront estate was imagined as an old Danish fort complete with a bastion wall, a pirate ship, terraced fountains, and water cannons. The estate, being marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate | the Saints, includes a total of four homes located on 12 parcels spanning nine acres (3.6 ha) in two of the most desirable neighborhoods on St. Thomas: Estate Bellevue and Estate Havensight. For lovers of water-based activities, there are two registered marine vessels and three registered motor vehicles. The property also sits on 50 feet (15 m) of Caribbean beachfront with spanning views of Hassel Island and includes an 80-foot (24 m) private dock—one of only a few permitted residential docks on St. Thomas.

The Nest, Lake Tahoe, California, U.S.A.

Lounge with wooden floors, high ceilings, large windows, and views of the water
This lovely waterside home features six bedrooms, four full baths, and one partial bath. It boasts 6,088 square feet (565 sq m) of interior space. It’s set on a beautiful, private lot on a cul-du-sac, next to a conservancy area.

Designed for ultimate privacy, this stunning property enjoys panoramic lake views. Hosting is easy here with two Viking ovens, a wine refrigerator, a built-in barbecue on the deck, and a lakeside hot tub. Inside there are plenty of home comforts, including a sauna, a steam shower, three fireplaces, and an elevator. The property is on the market with Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno: Lake Tahoe.