January 12, 2012 at 10:27 am EST | by Margaret L. Schwartz
Life on the water

Living near the water is an unfulfilled dream for many people. But in the D.C. area, most people don’t realize there are many small communities located on the Potomac River that offer the same, idyllic ambiance as living on the Chesapeake Bay or the ocean but with a much smaller price tag.

There are several towns on both sides of the Potomac that offer residents access to the water for recreational sports. Of course these same towns, which include full-time and part-time residents, also offer newcomers the opportunity to develop a “dream” business, whether it is a small antique shop, café or bakery, gift shop or other hobby-related business.

Retirees can live on the Potomac more reasonably than is possible at many seaside communities.

With the huge number of baby boomers looking to retire in the next decade — and a buyer’s market for real estate deals, this is the perfect time to consider whether a second/vacation home and a new business opportunity is the right choice for you. In this article, I’ll highlight two communities, one on either side of the Potomac, to give you a flavor of the lifestyle these residents enjoy.

As the Potomac departs from Washington, it widens considerably until you can barely see the other side of the river. Standing on the community dock at Fairview Beach, located about 75 miles from D.C., residents have a perfect spot to gaze at the sailboats floating by in the distance.

This community has a private beach and a thriving year-round residents association. And, with a popular marina and Tim’s II, a full-service restaurant (both open year-round), boating enthusiasts are assured of a good place to relax after a busy day on the water. Fairview Beach has several properties for sale and rent, including a commercial property that includes two rental apartments and a store that has plenty of space for a restaurant, antique store or any other combination. Most of the residents forego their cars, choosing instead to drive around town in their golf carts. A housing development, located on the south side of the town, has recently opened a new section, being driven in part by the pent-up demand for water oriented living. And with the recent rezoning approval for approximately 40 waterfront townhouses on the north side of the town, this is the perfect time to move to this quaint community.

More than a stone’s throw across the river, you’ll find Cobb Island, Md., steeped in history back to the 1600s. Located south of LaPlata, Md., off Route 301, the island is a short drive across Neale Sound. It was named from the practice of cutting Spanish coins in to pieces, or “cobs,” as payment for goods since small coins were very scarce in those days. Only a mile long and half as wide, Cobb Island is has been home to watermen who, for decades, have harvested oysters and crabs from the Potomac River. So it’s no wonder that many of the driveways on the island are filled with crushed shells.

The island has an active residents association that hosts several events throughout the year, including a summer festival and an annual oyster dinner in November at the volunteer fire department. The island boasts two deepwater marinas, a gift shop and several convenience stores. Several properties are for sale on the island, including Shymansky’s Dockside, a full-service restaurant and marina that also rents boats to visitors.

Both communities are welcoming to new residents and encourage them to become involved in local activities. If you’re looking for a place that will transform you from a stressed-out, hard working professional to a laid back, water-loving resident, contact the following realtors for more information: Mike Wood at Johnson & Glazebrook in Fredericksburg at 540-372-4343 or Fred Davis at Swan Point, Inc., in Maryland at 301-259-4400.

Margaret L. Schwartz is a local real estate investor and marketing consultant. She can be reached at mschwartzusa@aim.com.

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