Face financial facts. Is purchasing a full-time residence on the coast the best use of your time and money? Will you still have funds left over for retirement, or for any other goals that may be important to you?
Test the waters. If you can't afford to buy a coastal home outright, try renting one in the area you've targeted, or house-sit for locals.
Formulate a plan. You have to be utterly pragmatic about turning your coastal dream into reality. Talking to local real estate agents and scouting properties will help you put a price on your goal.
Make peace with the trade-offs. Before you decide to move, think carefully about your bare-essential priorities for buying a coastal home. Then, take some time to make sure you're comfortable with the sacrifices.
Understand your circumstances. "Write out the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario, and be willing to live with either one," offers Lynn Rabren, a boat designer/crafter on Alabama's Gulf Coast. "Life is short."
Line up work first. Finding jobs in small coastal areas can be tough, and a long job search can drain your financial resources. Before you move, research opportunities and contact potential employers.
Research storage options. Planning to store possessions in a facility near your new coastal home? Remember that fluctuations in temperature and humidity can be very hard on furniture. Wood expands and contracts, veneers can pop, and glued joints may give way.
Get wired. Remote areas don't always offer daily express pickup and delivery. Investigate essential services before you move.
Use e-commerce. Moving to an isolated village on a bay doesn't mean mourning weekly shopping trips to your favorite stores. "I can buy everything from my favorite shampoo and vitamins to best-selling books on the Internet," says Julia Cunningham of Cape San Blas, Florida.
Make friends with a painter. Keeping your porch ceiling painted―or your shingles stained―can be tough in a coastal environment. Find an experienced painter you can rely on.
Take the plunge. When it's all said and done and you've made the decision to begin a life on the coast, Tom Meehan, a seaside entrepreneur, says, "Go for it, or it'll end up being someone else's dream."