Labor Day is usually considered a bookend to summer, but it doesn’t have to be. (For the record, summer technically lasts through Friday, Sept. 21!) Plus, fall really is a great time of year to explore your options for living at ‘the beach’ – which is a broad umbrella term for living where you can easily enjoy access to the perks of beach life. Summer rentals can sometimes make showings challenging to see investment homes and condos for sale, so fall is a bit more flexible all around.
Locals generally do not want to give away our secrets, but I will tell you that fall is absolutely the best time of year at the beach for so many reasons. Restaurants offer specials and the weather is still great.
Whether you want to sell it all and move from the city to the beach year-round, or if you want to explore a second home for your own getaway or to use as an investment property, there is overwhelming opportunity to do so. And with Maryland’s recent expansion of Route 404 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway from US 50 to the Denton bypass, your “road not taken” for fear of traffic just opened up to you.
While traditionally Route 50 led you to Rehoboth Beach as the main destination in “Our Nation’s Summer Capital,” we now actually cast a wide net to include Dewey, the Indian River Inlet area and Bethany to the south, and increasingly Lewes and Milton to the north. Rehoboth Beach has the envious draw of the Atlantic Ocean, boardwalk, beautiful beaches, shopping, dining and nightlife. But these amenities are accessible from several different communities. When you are searching online for “Rehoboth Beach,” consider broadening your search to include Lewes and Milton.
Both historic towns, Lewes and Milton have been around – well, since the beginning of Delaware – and have hosted generations of beach lovers. Increasingly, both towns are expanding culinary and shopping options to rival Rehoboth’s great restaurants. At least so far, home prices in these areas have not caught up to Rehoboth Beach. Simply put, you can get more for your money while still enjoying the array of beautiful natural destinations like Cape Henlopen State Park, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and which is now connected to Gordon’s Pond in Rehoboth Beach via a five-mile scenic bike trail; Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton; Lewes Beach on the Delaware Bay; the scenic Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and Broadkill River. The season is unbelievably long here for biking, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, bird watching, surfing, crabbing, fishing, and basking in the serenity of beach life.
The appeal of Coastal Delaware is undeniable – but what about the prices? I’ll leave D.C. real estate to the D.C. experts, but it is fair to say that house for house, living at the beach is less expensive, especially when you factor in our low property taxes, and investing here is definitely something to consider with your financial adviser. Our clients are a mix of retirees who are moving here full-time or selling a current house here for another (either smaller or closer to downtown); second home buyers who plan to retire here in the future; and increasingly families and couples who look at newer construction neighborhoods in and around Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth.
As a point of comparison, beachfront property in Rehoboth Beach, depending on the home, is typically in the $4M+ range. We listed an unprecedentedly high priced home in Lewes this year for $4.5M; however, we also have beachfront homes in the $2.5M range and one block off the beach can go for $1.5M and less. Lewes is home to several new construction communities that will offer homes in the $500-600Ks. And Milton, just a few miles north, features communities from the high $200Ks to $400Ks.
Medical facilities and specialties continue to expand here to include a cardiovascular specialty at Beebe Medical Center and a brand new hospital north of Milton in Milford. Our school district is booming and has updated the high school, is replacing the outdated elementary schools and has added an additional one, and is adding a new middle school. The longtime question of “will I be able to live year round at the beach?” can be answered with a resounding “yes,” and you can even still enjoy an often solitary walk on Lewes Beach in the morning.
Labor Day doesn’t have to be the end of summer!
Lee Ann Wilkinson is a Realtor and CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty, the top-selling real estate team in Delaware and #4 nationally for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Visit LeeAnnGroup.com, email LeeAnn@LeeAnnGroup.com, or call her at 302-542-7125 for information on living at the beach.