WooHoo!! You’ve made the big decision and you and the family are going to Destin!! The most beautiful sand and water in the world, for sure. First things first. Where are you going to stay? What do should you look for in a really great place? Do you want to stay in a hotel or do you want to find a condo that will feel more home-like? Let us tell you that when it comes to condos vs hotels in Destin, we here at Emerald Destin are condo-lovin’ kids. Destin has a gazillion different types of condo options, and we thought we’d try to help you out a bit on what makes a great condo. We hope this will be helpful especially for you first-timers.
What’s your budget?
First and most importantly, what is your budget? Everybody wants a gulf-front unit, but it may not be in your budget this trip and that’s ok! There are so many great places to choose from. Each with their own “why you’re gonna love us” offerings, so don’t worry. Yes, you want to be comfortable and you can still be close to the beach but you do not have to be ON the beach to enjoy your vacation. Plus you don’t want to blow that hard-earned money before you even get there.
If you are not staying on the beach, where is the nearest public access path or public beach to the rental? If you can’t stay directly on the beach, try to get something close to a public access path or public beach that you can easily walk to.
Check the amenities
Once you’ve established your budget, then you can get down to the particulars of where you want to stay. Are you going strictly for the sun and sand? Would you like to at least have a pool and/or hot tub? Does a full-service resort with a wide assortment of amenities and concierge service appeal to you? There are many Destin properties the fit the bill for each of these.
If you are staying on the gulf, you will definitely want a property that will include a beach setup. A beach setup is usually 1 umbrella and 2 chairs that are set up for you every morning on the beach. If you do choose one of these properties, make sure you find out when you need to reserve your setup. If being close to the water is important to you, do not wait too late to reserve as you may not have a front-row assignment the whole time you are there. Read your paperwork carefully and if you have questions, always check with your management company.
A balcony. Balcony real estate is, for most people, a must. When looking for your perfect unit, take note of the balcony. What can you see from there? Is there furniture out there? Is it just chairs or is there a table and chairs? Both? Waking up in the morning and having that first cup of coffee while sitting in a lounge chair on your own balcony is pure bliss. But will you be wanting to have family meals out there as well? If so, a table is a must. Oh and just a little side note: take your binoculars! There are so many things to see in those crystal clear waters. Always watch for the large schools of fish that pass by throughout the day. If you see a lot of little splashes, something is stirring them up. That something is most likely dolphins! You’ll see them in the early morning and the late evening, especially. Sometimes you’ll see one or two, others you’ll see several pods at a time. There is always something to see out there.
Washer and dryer
Does the condo offer washers and dryers in each unit or is there at least a laundromat on-site? If you are traveling with kids, in-unit washers and dryers are like gold. The crew here at Emerald Destin is very fond of this amenity. No one likes to go home with a lot of dirty clothes either. So, definitely put that down on a ‘must have’ list.
Room with a view
Another ‘want’ you may want to consider for your list is a “gulf front/view” master bedroom with a door to the balcony. Of course, this is not an end-all, deal-breaker, but it’s really nice if you can lay in bed for a little while and just watch the waves before you have to get up. Also, if you are on an upper floor, you can crack the sliding glass door some at night, and let those waves lull you to sleep!
Does size matter
If it’s just you or you and someone else, you might want to consider a studio condo. These condos are like studio apartments and most of the time come with a kitchenette instead of a full kitchen. When looking, make sure you confirm with the rental company what your setup will be like.
Does the property have quiet hours? Sure it’s great to party and have a blast while you are at the beach, but you also need to be able to sleep. No one wants drunk hootin’ and hollerin’ all night long. Just because they are having a great time doesn’t mean you want to be in the middle of it.
Secure parking for peace of mind. Find out what kind of parking the property offers. Is it secure? Is it out in the full blazing sun or will it be in a covered garage? maybe you get your own parking garage? Things to find out, for sure.
Road noise. Nothing can take away from the enjoyment of the waves crashing like road noise. If the property is on a busy road, try to find out what the road noise is like or even if it’s a problem.
Walking distance to places
Lastly, will you have a car? Destin is pretty spread out. It’s not super walker-friendly and Ubers get expensive for each time you want to go somewhere. So when you are on your search, have a look around the area you are interested in on Google Maps. What options are available to you? Is there a grocery store, convenience store, or pharmacy within walking distance? What restaurants will you have a choice of? Maybe you’ll get lucky and find that your condo or resort offers an on-site restaurant. Also, another option is grocery delivery. So much easier than having to hit the Wal-Mark with every other tourist that just arrived. Remember, if you choose this option, schedule that delivery well ahead of time so you can get your spot. It’s all doable. You need to do your due diligence and plan ahead. Speaking of walking to restaurants, activities, etc – just a serious heads up … If you will be crossing 98 on foot, please be careful and never, ever try to cross anywhere other than at a designated crosswalk. Never let your kids cross it on their own, either. Trust us on that one. 98 sees more than its fair share of crazy drivers. Always make sure traffic is stopping before you walk as well. We want to keep you safe so you can come back again and again!
We hope these have helped dial down the anxiety on what to look for when searching for your perfect Destin condo. To further assist you, check out our post, 5 Top Gulf Front Beach Properties in Destin.
For further clarification of what kind of view a unit offers, click here for important keywords you want to consider.
Gulf FRONT – You will be directly facing the Gulf of Mexico. Usually means a higher floor but also includes the ground floor.
Gulf SIDE – You will not be facing the gulf and you may not even have a view.
Gulf VIEW – A gulf view just means you will be able to see the gulf. It may be a glimpse or, it could still be a really good view, but you will not be directly facing the gulf front. However, a gulf view may also mean the unit faces the gulf, but there is a road or other obstructions between you and the gulf. Again, not direct gulf front.
Beach FRONT – Beach front usually means you have direct access to the beach, i*-9e: ground floor unit. As soon as you walk out of the door, you are stepping onto the sand.