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Cottages just footsteps from the beach on eastern Long Island

This cottage on Hulse Landing Road in Wading

This cottage on Hulse Landing Road in Wading River is listed for $149,000 in July 2014. Credit: Randee Daddona

Julie Valins has been enjoying her summer in a new home by the beach on the East End. The nurse practitioner didn't pay millions of dollars for a mansion in Amagansett, though. She paid five figures for a two-bedroom, nonwinterized regatta-blue cottage at Woodcliff Park in Baiting Hollow, which is steps away from Long Island Sound. From her deck, she can look across the water to Connecticut.

Woodcliff Park is one of three summer-only communities on the North Shore made up of somewhat retro-looking cottages that have the feel of a cabin in an old-school camp. These homes, which range from several hundred to a couple thousand square feet on lots that are not much bigger, don't come with the luxuries usually found in vacation properties. Most of them don't even have heat. But for those who begin returning to their cottages after the water service is turned on in April, it's all the luxury they need.

"I can sit on my deck, look at the water and just enjoy and relax," says Valins, 52, who paid $92,000 for her cottage, according to public records. "The sunsets have been magnificent. I've never seen such sunsets, even in the Caribbean."

Cottage owners lease the land from Woodcliff Park's owner, Benjamin Karlin. The annual lease charge, which can range from $5,000 to $8,000, depending on the location and views, covers water and garbage removal. There is also access to a private beach, as well as an arcade, a small playground and a basketball court. Taxes to the Town of Riverhead are an additional $1,000 to $2,000 a year.

Michele Sanchez of Century 21 Castle Realty specializes in listings for Woodcliff Park, which has just shy of 200 homes. She says the first half of the lease payment is due April 1 and the rest by June 1. "I typically sell more in the offseason than I do in the on season," says Sanchez, who currently has several listings available.

Some stay in their cottage for a couple of months and rent it out the rest of the season to offset the lease.

The community started 67 years ago, when Karlin's father, who grew up on a farm and used to peddle fruit at nearby Wildwood State Park, helped build platforms where campers would pitch tents. Over the years, people started putting up cottages.

It's a solidly middle-class paradise, with many families coming from Queens and Brooklyn.

"The families have known other families, and they've married, so there have been generations in the park now," Karlin says. "It's a quiet community. It's not like the Hamptons."

For the last 14 years, Ken and Marguerite Scott have flown up from Florida to spend their summers in a similar community in nearby Wading River called Oakwood on the Sound. The 20-acre community has 101 cottages. "It's quite a family community," says Ken Scott, 85, a retired dental laboratory technician. "There are children's activities, beach parties."

It's become too difficult for the Scotts to make the journey north, so earlier this year they decided to put their cozy two-bedroom home with a small deck on the market for $149,000.

The house, which has electric heat, is a pretty standard model, says listing agent Tor Johnson of H&G Realty.

"Some of the houses in the community, people have put in modern-style homes, even though it's only seasonal," Johnson says.

Expansions have to be approved by the community board and the Town of Riverhead, says Stela Jakovcic, an agent with Little Bay Realty, which often has listings for Oakwood. There are rules governing how big the homes can be.

"Everybody would live all year round if they had big houses," Jakovcic says.

Owners are allowed to visit in the offseason, but the gate to the community is locked so residents can't pull their cars right up to their homes, says Jakovcic.

While many of the properties for sale in Woodcliff Park and Oakwood on the Sound are listed for five figures, those by the water can fetch more than $100,000, not much in an area of Long Island where new homes far from the water have sold for more than $400,000.

Right near Oakwood on the Sound is a third summer-only community called Hulse Landing Cottages. There are 63 homes in this community, and David Lunenfeld, an agent with Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life, says the two properties he is listing were built in the 1950s. Hulse Landing Cottages charges a $4,100 yearly fee that includes taxes, water, garbage removal and lawn care.

Here are some homes, including Lunenfeld's, that are available for sale this summer.

3010 Hulse Landing Rd. C3
ASKING PRICE: $149,000
WHAT YOU GET: This two-bedroom, one bathroom home is perched dramatically on a hill. There's a paved outdoor area with picnic tables to enjoy the rustic setting.

21 Cottage Rd.
WHAT YOU GET: This two-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage has a front deck with outdoor accent lighting, a shed and a private driveway. Inside, beachy murals decorate the walls.
LISTING AGENT: Michele Sanchez, Century 21 Castle Realty, 631-588-4663

45 Anchor Path
WHAT YOU GET: This two-story cottage has rustic gray wood exterior with white shutters. There are two bedrooms and a loft that could be a third bedroom, as well as one bathroom. There is a deck overlooking the woods.
LISTING AGENT: Mildred Thomas, Landmark Realty, 631-929-3600

94 Hulse Landing Rd. D3
WHAT YOU GET: This one-bedroom white cottage, painted with a funky purple trim, comes furnished. French doors lead from the kitchen to a large private patio. The sitting room can be used as a second bedroom.
LISTING AGENT: Lisa Stulz, Advantage Plus Realty, 631-957-0096

37 22nd St.
WHAT YOU GET: This small two-bedroom, 1-bath cottage comes furnished and accommodates up to six people. There are laminate floors and a renovated eat-in kitchen and a large deck, as well as a shed.
LISTING AGENT: David Lunenfeld, Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life, 516-528-5107

28 22nd St.
WHAT YOU GET: This cottage has three bedrooms and comes furnished. It has an open kitchen and living room and hardwood floors throughout. A deck looks out onto a large lawn.
LISTING AGENT: David Lunenfeld, Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life, 516-528-5107

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