With the abundance of oceanfront and riverfront properties available in the Jacksonville area, deciding which one you should spend your hard earned money on should not be made on a whim. Consider the big picture when making your decision.

Oceanfront Living

Living in a beachfront cottage or condominium seems idyllic, but there are numerous factors to consider when looking at oceanfront real estate.

A priority for those considering an oceanfront property purchase, be it a house or condominium, is insurance costs. Insuring homes in Jacksonville or any coastal area of Florida is difficult, and the majority of homeowners have to purchase coverage from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the insurer of last resort in Florida. Most homeowner policies in Florida carry separate deductibles for windstorm coverage, which can be close to $15,000 depending on the value of the residence.

If you are considering a condominium in the Jacksonville area, a significant consideration is the condition of the buildings and the financial standing of the condominium association. In Florida, condominium associations are required by law to maintain adequate reserves for capital improvements. This is money set aside from the operating expenses for building painting, building roofs, and parking lot paving. Request a copy of the financial report of the condominium association if you are considering a condominium purchase.

Another consideration for oceanfront living is the maintenance of your home. The salt content of the air is extremely high and can increase the maintenance needs of your home. Simply put, you will wage constant war against rust on any metal object in, on, or around your home, including your vehicles.

Riverfront Living

If you are considering a home or condominium in one of the numerous rivers or creeks around the Jacksonville area, other scenarios should also be considered.

With the assistance of your real estate agent, determine whether the home you’re considering sits by a tidal creek or a fresh water creek. Tidal creeks will rise and fall based on the tides. If you are purchasing a home for waterfront access, you should determine if the waterway is navigable at low tide.

The air around salt water or tidal creeks is high in salt, so consider the maintenance requirements of a home in an area with high salt content in the air.

In addition to the maintenance requirements of living on tidal creeks, possible flooding should also be considered. If a significant hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River, the storm surge will push water into these areas causing significant flooding to low lying areas. Flooding is also to be considered along the fresh water creeks that flow into the St. John’s River. Black Creek in Clay County just south of Jacksonville is regularly flooded by heavy rains. The St. Mary’s River in Nassau County can also reach flood levels with heavy rains.

Understanding the potential pitfalls of waterfront home ownership, whether its oceanfront or riverfront, can help real estate buyers make informed decisions when it comes time to purchase. If you feel confident that you can handle these possible financial and maintenance issues, there is nothing better than a walk on the beach at sunrise or a cocktail at sunset on your back porch.