Spring Break Condos


8 fun, affordable beachfront investments

It's time to shake those cold-weather blues, get some sun and maybe even invest in some vacation property.

To get an idea of what a beach property would cost in some of the most popular spring break areas, we shopped for condos along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, from South Padre Island, Texas, to Daytona Beach, Fla.

We found eight two-bedroom condos, either on the beach or within easy walking distance of the water, for between $150,000 and $250,000.

They not only offer a fun retreat for you and the kids, but are potential investment properties that can be rented out when you're not there.

Pay special attention to the big difference in price per square foot — a great way to compare how far your housing dollar will stretch. Let's begin our tour of these eight spring break havens in what's affectionately known as the Redneck Riviera.


Panama City Beach, Florida

Address: 15100 Front Beach Road, #1705

Price: $159,900

Square feet: 1,246

Price per square foot: $128

Right across from the beach, this two-bedroom, two-bath unit is the second least expensive home we'll show you. Yet it's one of the two biggest on the tour and the absolute best deal in terms of price per square foot. This unit is in Origin at Seahaven, which is the only interior corridor condominium on Panama City Beach. There's a dining room, living room and two balconies — one off of the living room and one off of the master bedroom. In the kitchen, you'll find standard appliances and tile counter tops. Building amenities include a pool, heated whirlpool, theater, fitness center and outdoor grill. Because it's fully furnished and rental-ready, it's a good investment property. The biggest drawback: Association fees are $634 per month.

Contact: Karen Smith at Beachy Beach Real Estate; 850-527-5651


Gulf Shores, Alabama

Address: 1118 W Beach Blvd., Unit 35

Price: $151,000

Square feet: 700

Price per square foot: $216

Situated just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, this is the least expensive condo on our tour. It also has the lowest association fees — $250 a month. You'll like the fact that it's a furnished corner unit with two bedrooms, one full bath and some nice amenities. The kitchen is equipped with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. The wrap-around balcony looks out over the water. In addition to a deeded beach and assigned parking, the building offers an outdoor pool. What's not to like? This is one of the smallest condos we looked at and costs almost $100 more per square foot than our pick in Panama City Beach.

Renae Stringer: RE/MAX of Gulf Shores; 251-752-0233


Destin, Florida

Address: 940 Hwy. 98, E #62

Price: $169,000

Square feet: 1,191

Price per square foot: $142

This two-story town home in Southbay by the Gulf is a value buy, providing lots of room and resort amenities for the money. Not only is it located on 300 feet of private beach, the fully furnished town home overlooks a lake as well. The living space includes two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, one half-bath and two outdoor decks. One deck is covered, and the other is open for sunbathing. In the kitchen, you'll find standard appliances and solid surface counter tops. Resort amenities include a spa, two pools, kid pools, tennis courts and beach service. Association fees are $485 per month.

Dan & Denise Dufault: Sea Coast Realty Group; 850-650-5541


Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida

Address: 6000 N Ocean Blvd., Apt. 6G

Price: $249,900

Square feet: 1,045

Price per square foot: $239

This two-bedroom, two-full-bath condo shares the distinction of being the most expensive stop on our tour. And here's what should take your breath away — a whopping $1,230 per month in association fees, or nearly twice as much any of the other units we're looking at. But this high-rise is right on the beach and right in the middle of all the nightlife, dining and entertainment that the sprawling Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach tropical metropolis has to offer. The balcony offers great views of the Atlantic Ocean and has a new hurricane slider. It has a spacious living room and a dining room. You'll find standard appliances and solid surface counter tops in the kitchen. The building has recently been renovated with new balconies and elevators. Amenities include bike storage, a heated outdoor pool and a private beach pavilion.

Rachael Barach: Castelli Real Estate Services; 954-563-5340


South Padre Island, Texas

Address: 2000 Gulf Blvd., #606

Price: $225,000

Square feet: 678

Price per square foot: $332

This is the smallest condo in our tour and the most expensive per square foot. In fact, it's close to a $100 more per square foot than the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea condo, the second most expensive per square foot we're showing you. But we couldn't leave out a spring break mecca like South Padre Island, and this unit has some impressive amenities. Despite its size, there are two bedrooms, one full bath, one half-bath, a living room, dining room and kitchen. The kitchen has standard appliances and tile counter tops. Throughout the condo, the drop ceiling has been removed, leaving a finished ceiling that adds height to the room. It comes with a garage in a gated community with amenities including a front desk, clubroom, exercise room and beachfront pool. Fees are $340 per month.

Jules Wilk: Troy Giles Realty & Management; 956-343-1218


Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Address: 7307 Estero Blvd., #3104

Price: $249,900

Square feet: 1,194

Price per square foot: $209

Located on a waterfront peninsula at the south end of Estero Island, this two-story townhouse is the other top-priced property we're looking at. But its cost per square foot is well below average, and the association fees are a pretty typical $461 a month. It's a two-bedroom, two-full-bathroom and one-half-bath condo in Phase 1 of the Santa Maria complex that's right across the street from the beach. The unit is fully furnished with separate dining and living rooms. The kitchen comes with an eat-in counter, standard appliances and solid surface counter tops. There are two balconies, one on the first level and one off the master bedroom on the second level. The listing brags about this unit's earning potential, claiming that the current owner grossed "over $27,000" a year in rental income.

Christian P. Loffreno: Loffreno Real Estate, Inc.; 239-463-2999


New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Address: 4155 S. Atlantic Ave., Apt. 414

Price: $229,000

Square feet: 1,088

Price per square foot: $210

Located in the Sea Coast Gardens 1 complex, this beachfront condo is close in price to our South Padre Island condo but over 400 square feet bigger and $122 less per square foot. It's a two-bedroom, two-full-bath, fully furnished unit with a living room and eat-in kitchen with standard appliances and solid surface counter tops. Furnishings include a recliner and two sofas in the living room, a dining room table and beds in both rooms. A fourth-floor balcony overlooks the heated pool, clubhouse, whirlpool and oceanfront deck. The building was recently refurbished and has an elevator. This complex has set rental rates, so you won't be involved in any nasty bidding wars with other owners. Association fees are $284 per month, the second lowest on our tour.

Diana Williams: Collado Real Estate; 386-690-2300


Daytona Beach, Florida

Address: 2900 N. Atlantic Ave., Unit 603

Price: $190,000

Square feet: 1,275

Price per square foot: $149

We've saved our biggest condo, in one of the true spring break meccas, for last. This two-bedroom, two-full-bath unit in the Ocean Ritz Condominium is right on the water. There's a 35-foot wrapping balcony that's accented by floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedrooms, the dining room and the living room. The kitchen is updated with wood cabinetry and new standard appliances. There are updated bathrooms and tile floors throughout. The listing states that furnishings are negotiable. In addition to an oceanfront pool, the building offers a private clubroom, billiard area, large sun deck, secured building entry, on-site manager and secured underground parking. Association fees are $418 per month.

Christopher E. Connors: Tyler Property Management LLC; 386-299-4043