Beachfront properties you can afford (prepare to travel)

Costa Rica beach house
Costa Rica beach house

For sale: Three-bedroom homes with heart-stopping ocean views. Big properties. Resort nearby.
Price: $139,000
Location: Not the Hamptons (or Malibu or Palm Beach)

What, you thought it was 1950? No matter. If you're willing to fly to Managua, Nicaragua, and make the two-hour trek to lovely San Juan del Sur, you will find your dream vacation house (or land on which to build it). High prices on home turf lured legions of American, Canadian and European buyers to this low-priced Pacific Coast town and other Central American destinations during the real estate run-up earlier this decade. When the bubble burst, investors stayed home, agents and developers say. Now, prices are in oh-my-god territory, and buyers are trickling back. In San Juan del Sur, you can build your own vay cay getaway for $85 a square foot. Compare that with $625 per square foot in Malibu last month. The median price of a home there was $2.1 million in October, according to San Diego-based MDA Dataquick.