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Get two tiny beach cottages by Mason Lake for $125K

Outside the city limits there are some surprisingly inexpensive opportunities to live on the waterfront

Think living by the water is expensive? There is one, only one place for sale in Seattle that costs less than this property that includes, not one, but two cottages. The trick behind this $125,000 property? Being an hour away from Tacoma and Olympia, and about an hour and a half from Seattle, without traffic. Of course, at that price maybe you won't have to work nearly as hard, or at least will have a place to retreat to.

The other trick behind buying two houses for less than almost anything in Seattle is their size. Combined, the two cottages total 584 square feet. Combined, they only advertise 1 bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms. So, some compromises may be required.

Good news is that they are relatively new, built in 2007. Their style is what happens when a Craftsman shows up at the beach, nicely-designed and relaxed. The big house, which must be smaller than half the 584 square feet if that's a combined total, squeezes in another room by using a folding ladder that accesses an attic bedroom. Downstairs is bright and open, and opens dramatically more when the sliding glass door pulls back. Window walls aren't expensive when the wall is the same size as a standard glass door or two. The second cottage is smaller and gets by with bunk beds, and basically not much else. It may seem like a luxury to anyone who gets to claim it as their space, whether that's kids on vacation, or a grownup declaring a studio or a retreat.

As with most successful tiny house designs, the more you can do outside, the better. The lot is 9,853 square feet, which is larger than many Seattle lots. An outdoor kitchen, concrete patio with firepit, two more covered patios still leave some land left for gardening, a bit of lawn to play on, and places to park. Parking your boat can be handy, but the community includes moorage. Don't bring your deep water yacht. This is moorage on Mason Lake, a fine fresh water destination. Salt water's available by driving to Hood Canal or the South Sound, so that boat parking may be handy, yet.

One downside to note: this is a community that has dues to pay for the shared amenities. Somehow you'll have to find the funds to afford the $17 per month dues. Can you do that after having spent $125,000? Probably.

· 101 Olympic Dr, Grapeview [Estately]