If you've ever dreamed of owning a beach home to escape the routine of everyday life, you're in luck. Realtor.com's 2023 list of the most affordable beach towns in the U.S. offers a diverse range of options for homebuyers. These towns, scattered across the country, provide an opportunity to live by the water without breaking the bank. Let's explore the top 10 most affordable beach towns where you can find your second home or vacation getaway.
Top 10 Most Affordable Beach Towns to Live in 2023
Realtor.com compiled this list, ensuring geographical diversity and focusing on towns with at least 50 properties within a mile of the water in the past year. They favored oceanside homes but also included bayside locales. The affordability was determined by price per square foot.
1. Gulfport, MS
Gulfport, MS, with a median price within 1 mile of a beach at $224,900 and a median price per square foot of $144, tops the list once again. This city boasts 26 miles of white-sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. While it offers a small-town feel, it also provides city life amenities, shopping centers, casinos, and water activities. Gulfport has a rich history but has also faced challenges from hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005. Affordable options include fully renovated condos within a five-minute walk to the beach for around $225,000.
2. Newport News, VA
Newport News, VA, is known for its rich history and sits on the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. It offers a median price within 1 mile of a beach at $200,000 and a median price per square foot of $150.
The city features nice beaches, including Huntington Beach and King-Lincoln Park Beach. Buyers willing to drive a bit can explore oceanfront options and even reach the spectacular Virginia Beach. Newport News also provides fishing, boating, fine dining, and Civil War reenactments. Affordable opportunities include a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with a private beach for $150,000.
3. New London, CT
New London, CT, may not be the first place that comes to mind for affordable beach towns, given Connecticut's housing market's higher costs. However, New London offers a median price within 1 mile of a beach at $257,000 and a median price per square foot of $175.
It boasts one of the best public beaches in the state, Ocean Beach Park, with miles of sand, a boardwalk, and various entertainment options. Affordable housing includes waterfront condos and four-bedroom homes around Ocean Beach for approximately $170,000 to $270,000.
These beach towns, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, offer the opportunity to make your beachfront living dream a reality without breaking the bank. Whether you're looking for a serene getaway or a permanent beachside residence, these affordable options should be on your radar.
4. Grand Isle, LA
Grand Isle, a barrier island connected to mainland Louisiana, stands as the smallest town on our list with around 1,000 residents. The town offers tranquility and quick access to both the beach and Grand Isle State Park, featuring hiking trails, campsites, and a fishing pier. Deep-sea and saltwater fishing are popular activities in the area. For those seeking a remote beachfront living experience, small classic beach houses perched atop stilts are available for less than $250,000.
5. Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi, the largest city on our list with approximately 320,000 residents, is located on the Gulf of Mexico and boasts 192 square miles of shoreline. Beach lovers have a variety of options in this area, including Corpus Christi Bay, North Beach, McGee Beach, and the nearby Padre Island.
Corpus Christi offers activities such as souvenir shopping, cycling, jetty fishing, and even a pet-friendly restaurant. Despite experiencing damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the city remains affordable, with prices lower than in many other parts of the country. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy windsurfing, kite boarding, and kite flying. Three-bedroom homes located less than a mile from the beach can be found for around $270,000.
6. Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic City, renowned for its casinos and boardwalk, is a consistent presence on lists of affordable beach towns. It offers one of the Northeast's best selections of long and sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches along with affordable housing. The homes in Atlantic City are smaller, making them more budget-friendly.
The city's economy is showing signs of improvement, attracting people back to the area. With a vibrant boardwalk and a growing entertainment scene, Atlantic City offers more than just casinos. For under $170,000, you can find a relatively small, three-bedroom home situated about 500 feet from the beach, providing excellent value for those seeking beach living on a budget.
7. Navarre, FL
Florida, known for its oceanfront living options, offers excellent value, particularly on the panhandle with its pristine white sandy beaches. Navarre, located about 20 miles east of Pensacola, has the largest median home size and the highest overall home prices on our list. The town is across the Santa Rosa Sound from Santa Rosa Island's Navarre Beach.
Activities in the area include fishing on the pier and cycling along a scenic bike path. Condos on Navarre Beach can be purchased for around $450,000, while free-standing homes on the inner side of the Santa Rosa Sound are available for approximately $100,000 less.
These beach towns offer diverse options for those seeking affordable coastal living. Whether you prefer the tranquility of Grand Isle, the variety of activities in Corpus Christi, the vibrant scene of Atlantic City, or the pristine beaches of Navarre, you can find your ideal beachfront property without breaking the bank.
8. North Beach, MD
North Beach, MD, located on the Chesapeake Bay, is approximately 30 miles east-southeast of Washington, DC. Established in 1900 as a getaway for DC and Baltimore residents, it offers easy access to beaches. The town features a boardwalk with a dedicated bike path and numerous shops.
For those seeking nightlife, gambling, or family-friendly water park experiences, neighboring Chesapeake Beach is just a short trip away. Beach enthusiasts can find relatively new condos on the boardwalk with beach and bay views for prices ranging between $365,000 and $390,000.
9. Crescent City, CA
Crescent City, CA, located about 20 miles south of the Oregon border, is a surprising addition to the list of affordable beach towns, given California's reputation for high costs. This northernmost beach town in California is a testament to the state's vast size. While the beaches may be a bit chilly, the lower prices have attracted new residents. Affordable options include a 100-year-old, four-bedroom home just three blocks from Battery Point Beach, listed for under $300,000.
10. Shirley, NY
Shirley, NY, is not the Hamptons, but it offers affordable coastal living on Long Island. It's located near another affordable beach town, Mastic. Shirley is known for its proximity to Outer Beach at Smith Point, one of the barrier islands that make up Fire Island National Seashore.
Smith Point Beach, the county's largest oceanfront park, is also a popular spot for beachgoers, surfers, and campers. The area includes the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, known for its diverse wildlife. For approximately $350,000, you can purchase a stylishly updated four-bedroom home near Outer Beach, a great value compared to the nearby Hamptons.
These additional beach towns provide a range of options for those looking for affordable beachfront living. From the historical charm of North Beach, MD, to the northern California coastline in Crescent City, and the unpretentious atmosphere of Shirley, NY, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for beach lovers.