6 Reasons Why Living on the Beach is Highly Overrated

Ok, hear me out. I realize the title of this post in and of itself probably makes you want to reach through your computer screen and slap me silly in an effort to knock some sense into my sun-bleached brain. I get it – how cynical does one have to be to have the capacity to actually complain about living on a beach? A Caribbean beach, of all places. But before you write me off completely, I do have a valid(ish) reason for my current grumblings of life by the seashore.

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A bit of background: just over a year ago, the stars aligned and we moved into My Island Dream House. I had been coveting this particular abode for close to 3 years and suddenly, it was ours. Well, not totally ours (we were just renting) but damn close. When I had originally seen My Island Dream House, it had everything I had wanted in a home and more – AND *drum roll if you please* it was on the beach. Literally 11 charmingly weathered wooden steps down from the living room and your feet were in the sand. And while it had seemed extremely unlikely that it could ever realistically be MY house (unless, you know, I serendipitously won that lottery I never entered in the first place), that small detail didn’t stop me from pining (I have never been one to let boring old Reality poo all over my fantasies). And low and behold, wishing and hoping triumphed (hoorah!!), and My Island Dream House was ours for a moment in time.

We moved in, settled in, and life floated on a cloud of sparkly goodness until a little over a month ago when the bubble gum burst and life in The Island Dream House (I concede that it is no longer accurate to call it MY) came to a close.

It’s a long, maddening story (and I still cannot seem to find any humor in it, hence the reason I shall not bore you with the details), but essentially, our lease was abruptly ended due to construction of a new house next door encroaching on our living room and some odious characters who, if the world is just, have a shit box of island karma headed their way at some point (Come on, Universe – make it good!).

Either way, it no longer matters. We were forced to pack up shop and move and there is nothing that can be done about it now besides wholehearted acceptance and forward momentum. But I’m not going to lie – it was soul-crushing. It felt like a tragic loss, in the way that the ending of dreams always tend to feel. So, as a form of catharsis, I decided to turn that frown upside down by focusing on how residing steps from the sand wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In the event that you, too, have been spending your days yearning for a beach house of your own, get ready to clear up some dream space for something perhaps a bit more worthy (and attainable).

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Here are 6 Ways I found that Living on a Beach is Highly Overrated:

–  1  –
THE SAND FLIES

If ever there was a reason NOT to live on a beach, it has to be the sand flies aka no-see-ums. As loathsome as mosquitoes are, these near-invisible assholes are way worse. At least with mosquitoes, you can see them coming at you and as a result, you can kill them. The same is not true for sand flies, who swarm you – almost undetectable by the human eye – bite you en masse, and leave you with rash-like bites that itch worse and for longer periods than a mere mosquito bite. Living so close to the beach means that they are always present in not just your outdoor spaces, but find their way indoors as well to eat you as you cook, sleep, and try not to kill yourself. Whether they are mildly annoying or insufferable to the brink of insanity simply depends on the time of day.

–  2  –
BIG CRASHING WAVES ARE SHOCKINGLY AGGRAVATING

Growing up in California, I used to always dream of living by the ocean and being able to hear the powerful waves smashing just outside my window. Most of the time, at The Island Dream House, there were gentle, lapping waves that were pure pleasure on the psyche. But from time to time, the swell would pick up and we had much louder ones crashing just out front. It took us a few times to realize that this was making us both tense, even though we thought we liked the sound. Something about the violent noise added an underlying sense of stress to our moods, especially due to us having to yell to be able to hear each other. Yelling, when not of the actual argument variety, is comical at first, but through the mystical powers of behavioral conditioning, it slowly manages to bring forth the emotions of actual argument yelling. Cue: needless aggravation.

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–  3  –
THE GUILT

When we first moved in, we had grand plans of taking nightly walks on the beach after dinner, having coffee with our toes in the sand on weekend mornings, and generally spending much of our time down there. But in reality, we ended up going to the beach at roughly the same infrequency as we did before. For one, the aforementioned sand flies were a great deterrent for me, as being eaten alive can really detract from any view. Also, as it turns out, getting sandy after dinner right before bed is not very appealing to either of us. Not to mention that walking on a beach in the dark is trickier and less relaxing than you’d think – you have to keep your flashlights and eyes pointed downward the entire time so you don’t end up with a sharp rock or washed-ashore urchin in your toes. Much like an expensive sports car we just had to have and quickly realized its impracticality, the beach was just there by its lonesome, staring at us, and making us feel overwhelmingly guilty over how we were “wasting” it.

beach living 7_WWLOR

–  4  –
SALT AIR AT ITS MOST INTENSE

Living on an island, you grow very familiar with the havoc that salt air can wreak on pretty much everything. I didn’t anticipate much of a difference based on such a small change in proximity, but living on the beach brought us that much closer to its destructive power. Cleaning (which already has to happen more often than you’re used to on an island) was never-ending. Salt residue coated every surface (tables, countertops, bookshelves, TVs, the computer) overnight, necessitating a wipe down each morning to remove the grimy look and feel. And don’t even get me started on the windows. After this experience, whenever I see beach houses in movies that have most of their walls made of glass, all I can think of is, “They must have someone cleaning those windows 24 hours a day…”

–  5  –
NOISE REALLY CARRIES OVER WATER

Something about the surface of water makes for highly conducive conditions for noise transportation. Bose should really look into that. When boats anchor in front of your house, you can hear everything they are saying, every word to the songs their stereo is playing, and even more importantly – they can hear you too as they stare at you through their binoculars.

–  6  –
THE SAND FLIES

Did I mention it was buggy as shit? Oh, yeah… see above.

–  –  –

So here I am now, looking on the bright side and all that jazz (cue jazz hands!). “Everything happens for a reason” may be a stale cliché, yet it’s one I remain committed to with the same loyalty I allot to the timeless wisdom of Winnie the Pooh. The Universe stepped in and found us a new house that’s actually a much better situation overall and we have surprisingly come to love it even more than The Island Dream House of dreams past. And through this crap shoot of a situation, I’ve been reminded of a valuable island lesson I somehow overlooked when it came to the house: unrealistic expectations (especially fantasies) can ruin your island experience faster than a mongoose on the beach will steal your unsupervised sandwich. While I won’t ever stop dreaming (#cantstopwontstop), I will remember to stop putting so much weight on the specifics of my dreams and remain open to everything this island (and life, in general) has to offer. I’m certain there are a lot of enchanting surprises up its sleeve that even I could never dream up.

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This entry was posted in Chrissann Nickel's posts, General, Island List-icles, Lessons Learned, Lifestyle, Moving to an Island, Rants & Grievances by Chrissann Nickel. Bookmark the permalink.
Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

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9 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Living on the Beach is Highly Overrated

  1. After college I lived in a great beach front house for 5 years in Mass. on a small island — when I realized we had to have the entire front of the house shuttered tight 6 months a year I was some what disillusioned — but the empty stretch of beach all of the off season and a roaring fireplace on cold winter nights, a heated waterbed [it was the 70’s] , and a garage for the sports car made it a place I remember with many sweet memories. After 40 years here in the Caribbean though I don’t miss any winter weather in NE.

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  3. I head to BVI each January for a couple of weeks. My boyfriend is NEVER bothered by the sand fleas/flies…I am always bitten and head home with red bumps from my knees down. Haven’t found a remedy yet…even DEET/OFF doesn’t seem to work. UGH…but at least it kept off the chickenungya mosquitoes! Has anyone had any luck with a way to keep them off?

  4. Any woman who’s ever lived on a rock just had to know no-see-ums would be #1 on your list! Personally, I much prefer a location up from but within easy walking distance of the beach, which means no no-see-ums, even better views, muting of even the most vicious waves to a nice lull, far less salt blast and a little more audio privacy. Yet,without fail, friends who aren’t island dwellers ask, “Why didn’t you choose a beachside location?”

  5. I can relate to everything except the aggravating waves – the barrier reef here breaks them offshore so we’re usually left with the gentle lapping sound – but those goddamn sand flies are enough to drive anyone insane, for sure. I feel itchy just thinking about them.

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