12 American Beach Towns You Can Actually Afford to Live In
A house by the ocean isn't just a pipe dream.
“A house by the ocean" sounds like one of those painfully unobtainable luxuries, a life goal that's only achievable in retirement or lucid dream. But that doesn't mean you, the average citizen trying to scratch together $1,000 a month to live with a roommate, can't legitimately afford one. And not on a beach in Barrow, Alaska, either.
All along the US coast -- mostly in the Southeast -- a number of cities boast beautiful coastline, white sand, and surprisingly affordable housing. SmartAsset crunched some data, factoring in median home prices, home size, property taxes, and annual housing cost (mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc.) to find which oceanfront beach towns are the overall cheapest. These are 12 of our favorites from their list: And hey, now that we've largely proven that many of our jobs can be done remotely, now might just be the time to make that dream into a reality.
Deerfield Beach, Florida
Median home price: $153,600
This beach town's strategic location between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton boasts relatively easy access to almost all of South Florida... and might just be the most underrated city in the region. The beach here is big and wide, where even on weekends the sands never get too crowded. It’s home to some of South Florida’s best breweries, most notably Holy Mackerel and 26 Degrees, just south in Pompano. But perhaps the greatest thing Deerfield has to offer -- aside, of course, for wide, sandy beaches and affordable homeownership -- is its burgers: Some argue Charm City's are the best in Florida, and Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox is known for one of the most insane burger eating challenges in America. Which is to say, don't worry about your beach bod too much here.
Port Angeles, Washington
Median home price: $202,500
Don’t let this town’s proximity to Twilight-famous -- and famously overcast -- Forks deter you from making it your Pacific Northwest beach homestead. The town on the Olympic Peninsula sits just a few miles from spectacular Olympic National Park, and the only temperate rainforest in the contiguous United States. Port Angeles is also a popular jumping-off point for whale watching excursions, and even boasts its own historic underground tour of the original buildings left after the city elevated its streets in 1914. And if you’re craving big city life, it’s a short and scenic ferry ride across Puget Sound to Seattle. Here, the beach life is anything you want it to be, whether it's woodsy, sandy, or sparkly and undead.
MORE: Olympic National Park is one of our greatest natural treasures
Coos Bay, Oregon
Median home price: $178,300
While North Coast towns like prim Cannon Beach and Goonies-obsessed Astoria dominate the spotlight, some of the most scenic shoreline in Oregon sits in Coos Bay. The highlight is Sunset Bay State Park, surrounded by majestic cliffs where miles of hiking trails take you to breathtaking vistas looking out over this secluded cove and the Pacific beyond. Coos Bay also sits on the southern border of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area -- not exactly the white sands of your Caribbean fantasies, but still some of the most impressive natural wonders in the west, with many dunes standing over 500 feet tall. As for that other thing Oregon is best known for (beer, we mean beer) hit 7 Devils Brewing in town, whose nutty Lighthouse session pale ale is as well paired with a sunny summer day as it is a sideways windstorm in winter.
MORE: Plan a rowdy road trip to Oregon's northern coast
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Median home price: $242,400
The home of the vaunted Hangout Music Festival has a ton to offer the other 362 days of the year. In addition to bordering Alabama's best state park, Gulf Shores got its first brewery in 2016 at Big Beach, and opened 15 miles of bike trails, offering up an alternative outdoor activity to kicking it on 32 miles of white-sand shoreline. Add that to an up-and-coming food scene in nearby Orange Beach and some of the lowest property taxes in the country, and you've got a standout city for your beachfront home.
MORE: Get a closer look at life in Gulf Shores
Median home price: $223,300
Yes, Biddeford is home to some pretty crushing winters -- but if you were coming to Maine expecting beachside mai tais in December, you've got bigger issues to address. A stunningly gorgeous stone's throw from Portland, the picturesque town ticks off all the small-town Maine boxes -- lighthouses, beaches, lobstah, rocky beaches -- with the addition of a rapidly growing beverage scene includes top-tier additions to Maine's storied beer scene (Banded Brewing is a must), natural wines at Lorne, and on-point gin at Round Turn Distilling. Get here before it gets too hip.
Median home price: $170,100
Plunked just south of busy Houston, this small town of 50,000 (everything’s bigger in Texas, even small towns) is at once a destination and a slept-on gem. The island city on the Galveston Bay rocks a massive 32 miles of beachfront, which includes attractions that appeal to locals and tourists alike, including a waterpark; the pyramid-shaped indoor ecosystems of Moody Gardens; and Pleasure Pier, which is Texas’ answer to LA’s Santa Monica Pier, complete with roller coaster. The affordability extends to the nightlife, a bustling set of bars and steakhouses that caters to tourists and locals with equal aplomb.
Median home price: $270,600
Not to be confused with the also-very-fun-to-say Yreka, Eureka is the exception to the rule of California coastal homeownership being beyond prohibitively expensive. As a town, Eureka punches above its weight -- at just 26,000 people, it’s the largest coastal town between San Francisco and Portland, a nice little slice of NoCal Rockwell with a nice zoo, a famous strip of gothic/Victorian mansions, and quiet streets. As the gateway to the North Coast, though, the Humboldt darling is uniquely positioned to allow easy access to the dense forests of Oregon and California, the waters of Arcata Bay, and pretty much every overlooked outdoor adventure you could imagine. No, you don’t get swaying palm trees. But pines sway nicely too, and don’t cost seven figures for the privilege of calling your own.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Median home price: $194,700
Over the past few years. Myrtle's undergone through a serious overhaul in its image. Yeah, you've still got Myrtle Beach Bike Week to contest with, but the newish 1.2-mile beach boardwalk and downtown promenade have given this town a more urbane feel, leaving its "Dirty Myrtle" monicker in the dust. The quaint minor-league baseball park ranks among the best in the nation. And with the lowest property taxes of any city on the list, you can enjoy the 60 miles of undeveloped beach along the grand strand with a lot of extra money in your pocket.
MORE: Myrtle's also got art, music, crab, and clubs
Daytona Beach, Florida
Median home price: $141,000
Since your home by the Great American Race isn't gonna cost you much, you'll have plenty of money left to buy a giant F-350 and cruise along one of the only drive-on beaches in the country. The city is moving away from its spring-break image, which means your house won't be overrun by discarded beer cans every March, unless you go on a bender. Plus, with Orlando just a short drive away, Daytona offers the perfect place for a beach escape with easy access to big-city amenities.
MORE:More reasons Daytona stands among Florida's best beaches
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Median home price: $165,100
The artsy, quintessentially Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast leads the nation in affordable beach cities, with four towns landing in the top 10. Of those cities, Ocean Springs is the beachiest. There you can wander over from your sub-$150K home to the bars of Government Street, where live music fills the air every weekend. Closer to the coast you're a short boat ride from the turquoise waters of the barrier islands, a big part of why this isn't just one of the cheapest beach towns in America, it's one of the best beach towns, period.
Port Arthur, Texas
Median home price: $65,700
Yes, that price up there is in dollars... 2018 American dollars. The cheapest beach city in America to buy a house is Port Arthur, a city on Sabine Lake just across from Louisiana. It borders five protected areas, including Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge and Sea Rim State Park. The town isn't big, but it's peaceful and the weather is a perfect Gulf Coast warm. The property taxes here are a little higher overall than in other states, but with a house that cheap you'll barely even notice.
Median home price: $120,600
Don't sleep on Mississippi's second-largest city -- one of America's most underappreciated that happens to be a great place to live. Its once-downtrodden downtown has come back to life as young residents have moved back and brought with them a new energy, weekend block parties, and one of the state's best breweries in Chandeleur. To further enrich downtown, the city opened an alley in the model of Cleveland's East Fourth Street, closed to traffic and lined with bars and restaurants for people to enjoy the coastal sunshine as they sip. When it's time to check out Biloxi -- another great town with a median home price hovering around $157k -- the 27 miles of unobstructed beachfront along the way make for one of the most scenic drives in America.