Houses in well-known beach towns are always appealing, but lately, they are in even higher demand.
“It’s little surprise that, after 2-plus years of living through a grueling, global pandemic, many Americans are chomping at the bit to trade quarantine lockdowns for cool, seaside breezes; back-to-office dreariness for sun and surf euphoria; and homemade sourdough for fresh fish tacos with a squeeze of lime and Dirty Shirleys [a Shirley Temple with vodka] on the boardwalk,” says Realtor.com’s Dive In! America’s 10 Most Affordable Beach Towns for Homebuyers, 2022 Edition. “What’s not to love?”
If that scenario appeals to you, the good news is you don’t need to limit your seaside visits to a few days or a week. As Realtor.com notes, people can still find homes in beach towns to use as a primary home, vacation house, or even as an investment — “without draining their bank account.”
“The U.S. has more than 95,000 miles of shorelines, but most people, when they think of beach towns, they focus on a few dozen destinations,” George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com, said in a statement. “However, there are a lot of hidden gems, which offer all the benefits of seaside living at a much lower price.”
To determine which beach towns combine “affordability with desirability,” Realtor.com’s data team analyzed the median home list prices of more than 1,300 towns along U.S. coastlines between May 2021 and April 2022. Importantly, each town considered had at least 30 homes for sale in April.
There are two important criteria that also factor into the listing. First, to ensure there’s more to do than be out on the water or be at home, all of the towns have at least one arts, entertainment, or recreation venue and at least five restaurants or lodging locations per 1,000 households. Secondly, to ensure geographic diversity, the list only includes one beach town per state.
So, let’s get to it. Here are Realtor.com’s 10 most affordable beach towns for homebuyers in the U.S.
1. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Median Home List Price: $161,754
Mention Atlantic City, and some people immediately think of casinos and organized crime. Those perceptions, along with the damage to the area inflicted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, may help explain why homes in Atlantic City are more affordable than homes in other locations along New Jersey’s shoreline, Realtor.com explains.
“However, those lower prices have been drawing an increasing number of new residents who want to enjoy the sandy beach and coastal breezes along with the plethora of restaurants, entertainment venues, and outdoor activities in ‘America’s Playground,’” Realtor.com continues.
Indeed, home prices in the Atlantic City metro area, which includes the surrounding towns, were up 18.8 percent from April 2021.
The good news is that despite those increases, Atlantic City is the country’s most affordable beach town — for the second year in a row — according to Realtor.com. Recent listings range from a historic studio condo on the boardwalk listed for $95,000 to a one-bedroom condo on the beach with views of the ocean listed for $310,000, Realtor.com reports.
2. Deerfield Beach, Florida
Median Home List Price: $230,071
South Florida real estate has been a hot commodity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in turn, has driven home prices up significantly. While that generally is the case, the exception is Deerfield Beach, about halfway between Palm Beach and Miami, where deals can still be found “at a fraction of the price — as long as you move fast,” according to Realtor.com.
As you would expect, the beach is the town’s primary draw, which helps explain why homes closer to the ocean cost more than the homes further inland. Even so, Deerfield Beach does offer plenty of things to do.
“Locals fish the pier, walk the boardwalk, hang out at a wide range of local bars, and dine at trendy new restaurants along with old classics,” according to Realtor.com.
If you’re 55 years old or older, recent listings include a two-bedroom condo on the Intracoastal Waterway listed for $299,222. Younger buyers can find deals too, including a one-bedroom condo on the ocean front listed for $400,000, Realtor.com notes.
3. New London, Connecticut
Median Home List Price: $242,392
New London gets its name because it sits at the mouth of the Thames River, which empties into Long Island Sound. Furthermore, in the mid-19th century, New London was the second-largest whaling port in the world, so it’s only natural that the city offers tons of waterfront property.
Another attraction is Ocean Beach Park, “a New England beach with sugary sand, a boardwalk, and, for those who are afraid of sea life, a pool,” Realtor.com explains. “There’s an amusement park for the kids, plus plenty of restaurants, bars, and arts centers when your skin needs a break from the UV rays.”
Homes with a view of the ocean typically list in the mid-$100,000 range, Realtor.com notes. Recent listings include a two-bedroom condo listed for $149,900 and a two-bedroom condo with seasonal dock space (available for a fee) listed for $255,000.
4. Mastic Beach, New York
Median Home List Price: $334,907
The Hamptons on Long Island may be pricey, but Mastic Beach, which is just 40 minutes away from Southampton, is considerably more affordable. As Realtor.com explains, “this working-class beach town has a lot to offer ocean lovers who can’t afford a multi-million-dollar ‘summer cottage.’”
Mastic Beach, as its name implies, is home to a sandy beach. However, it’s also known for numerous Italian, Latin, and American restaurants, historical sites, and parks, according to Realtor.com.
The good news is that single-family houses with waterfront views start at around $200,000. Recent listings include a two-bedroom house with views of the Pattersquash Creek and docking available through Mastic Beach Property Owners Association listed for $275,000, Realtor.com’s report notes. On the other hand, another recent offering is a two-bedroom house on a canal with a dock right out to the back door, listed for $600,000.
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Median Home List Price: $347,875
Millions of people travel to Myrtle Beach every year for its water and beaches, golf courses, festivals, and arts community. Other attractions, especially in the summer, include the boardwalk and amusement park.
Then again, people aren’t simply traveling to Myrtle Beach to visit. In fact, as Realtor.com points out, U.S. News & World Report ranked Myrtle Beach the fastest-growing U.S. city in 2021-22, in part, thanks to its mild weather, low taxes, and affordable homes.
So, what type of waterfront homes are available in Myrtle Beach? Consider, for instance, one recent listing — a two-bedroom condo that offers an ocean view listed for $289,900. Another listing is for a historic five-bedroom beach house that, of course, includes views of the ocean as well as a pier attached to the front porch, Realtor.com explains. That house is listed for $595,000.
6. Seal Beach, California
Median Home List Price: $400,338
If you’re familiar with Southern California’s real estate, right now, you’re probably wondering how a home near the beach can be affordable. The answer is that the homes are affordable for buyers 55 years or older.
Here’s why: Leisure World is a gated retirement community located just minutes from Seal Beach. Recent listings in the community include a two-bedroom condo with a patio, listed for $299,000, according to Realtor.com. A one-bedroom condo in the community was recently listed for $175,000.
“If you are over the age of 55, it’s a great opportunity,” said Melinda Elmer, a realtor with Century 21 Masters, in Dive In! America’s 10 Most Affordable Beach Towns for Homebuyers, 2022 Edition. However, she does add that the town itself “is not necessarily cheap.”
Don’t worry if you’d like to buy a house in Seal Beach but aren’t 55 yet — although you’ll need to pony up. Realtor.com explains those under 55 will probably need to spend close to $1 million for a house in the beachside community.
7. Rockport, Texas
Median Home List Price: $435,112
Rockport, on the Gulf Coast, is known for its boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming, and other watersports. Plus, and there’s no other way to put this, Rockport is also a birdwatcher’s paradise.
For starters, it’s home to 10 different sites on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. What’s more noteworthy, however, is that approximately 500 whooping cranes, North America’s tallest bird, migrate more than 2,500 miles from southern Canada and the northern U.S. to spend each winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport.
Waterfront homes in the area start in the mid-$400,000 range. One recent listing, for example, is a two-bedroom townhouse with views of the Aransas Bay, listed for $449,000.
The flip side of the coin, as is usually the case, is that you’ll need to spend more to buy a house near the beach itself. An example of those houses is a recently listed two-bedroom house on Mustang Island. The asking price is $599,900, Realtor.com reports.
8. Lynn, Massachusetts
Median Home List Price: $449,626
Lynn, about 10 miles from downtown Boston, is a historic coastal town with 22 acres of protected shoreline, including beaches and parks that are part of the Lynn Shore & Nahant Beach Reservation.
“The walkable area offers a wide range of dining experiences, from upscale Italian and American to affordable Cambodian and excellent Mexican,” according to Realtor.com. “It’s the kind of dining scene you’d expect to find in a major city but [in this case] it’s in a chill beach town.”
There are plenty of deals for prospective buyers who want to combine living near the water with the culture of an urban area, Relator.com explains. For instance, one recent listing is for a one-bedroom condo with waterfront views and an in-ground pool, listed for $279,000. A three-bedroom house close enough for owners to walk to shore has been listed for $650,000.
9. Morehead City, North Carolina
Median Home List Price: $464,842
Morehead City, as well as surrounding towns, is a maritime enthusiast’s idea of heaven. That’s because it sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterway, which begins in Massachusetts, runs south along the Atlantic Seaboard before rounding the southern tip of Florida and continuing up the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas.
“Morehead, about 150 miles southeast of Raleigh, North Carolina, is also known for great boating, fishing, and nearly every type of watersport one can imagine in both the sound and the Atlantic,” according to Realtor.com. “The mainland city is protected by a barrier island, Bogue Banks, which boasts gorgeous beaches with powdery sand and plenty of room to spread out for a fun day by the ocean.”
Prospective buyers interested in nearby beachside communities such as Atlantic Beach can find condos that have beachfront views starting in the $300,000 range, Realtor.com points out. Recent listings include a two-bedroom condo for $359,000, as well as a two-bedroom condo with a boat slip selling for $522,400.
10. Tiverton, Rhode Island
Median Home List Price: $480,262
“This quaint coastal town on the east end of Narrangansett Bay exploded with new full- and part-time residents at the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns,” Realtor.com explains. “People from New York, New Jersey, and Boston took up residence in waterfront homes with expansive outdoor spaces.”
Part of the reason for Tiverton’s growing popularity is that it offers coastal views as well as a 600-acre conservation area with miles of walking trails, Realtor.com notes. At the same time, however, it’s still only about 30 minutes from Newport, Rhode Island, and about an hour away from Boston.
“If you want to go to Boston for a day, you can drive halfway and take the “T” into the city,” says Amanda Nickerson Toste, broker associate and partner at Coastal Properties Group, according to Realtor.com. “But, it is still a farm coast community where you will get stuck behind a tractor on your way to work.”
So, what can buyers find in Tiverton? One recent listing is for a two-bedroom cottage that has a large deck and offers views of the water for $439,000. Now, if you’re willing to do the work yourself, or hire contractors to do the work, you can find deals on fixer-uppers as well. Realtor.com notes that one recent example is a $295,000 three-bedroom home with views looking out at the Sakonnet River.
If you’re looking for scenic places to buy a home, try living near a national park, like in 10 Most Affordable Places To Live Near U.S. National Parks and 10 Most Expensive Places To Live Near U.S. National Parks.