Real estate prices have skyrocketed lately, and that’s especially true in some toy beach towns, where real estate regularly hits seven figures. The good news is that while interest rates have risen slightly, they are still near historic lows (Check out the lowest fares you might qualify for here), and there are still beach towns where property is relatively affordable. Here are five.
If you want to have an ice cream on the boardwalk: Ocean City, Maryland
Located on a barrier beach just off the Maryland coast, Ocean City has more than 10 miles of shoreline with a 3-mile boardwalk and two amusement parks. First developed in the 19thth Dating back to the 19th century as a resort town, Ocean City remains Maryland’s premier beach destination, welcoming approximately 8 million visitors each year. Residents are committed to keeping the beach and surrounding marine life unpolluted. The city offers many water sports including deep sea fishing, kayaking and even surfing at dedicated surf beaches. The city is nowhere wider than a few blocks, which means that any condo or home you buy for less than $400,000 is at most a short walk from the ocean. Expect traditional Boardwalk fare — ice cream and hamburgers — at restaurants like Dumser’s Dairyland. Ocean City is at least a three hour drive from Washington DC and Baltimore.
Average house value: $396,539
cost of living: 4.8% higher than the US average
Sources: Mean home values from Zillow; Cost of living from Sperling’s Best Places; Population from the Census Bureau
If you are looking for a vibrant local community: Venice, Florida
Venice was designed in 1926 by John Nolen, a well-known landscape architect who remarked that he guided nature in the planning. Venice is full of green spaces and parks interwoven by residential neighborhoods, and the entire city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located on the Gulf Coast between Fort Myers and Tampa, Venice has over 100 independent shops and restaurants including Cassariano Italian Eatery and Snook Haven, where the Gulf Coast Banjo Society jams Thursdays October through May. Single-family homes just blocks from the Gulf cost just under $400,000. The city invites community by hosting outdoor concerts on various green spaces and pavilions almost every night of the week.
Average house value: $400,170
cost of living: 1.3% higher than the US average
If you want raw natural beauty: Eureka, CA
If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway where you can lounge on white sandy beaches and sip piña coladas under the palm trees, then Eureka is definitely for you not the place for you. If you want to be by the sea to fish, hike and enjoy plenty of rugged natural beauty, then you will find what you are looking for in Eureka. Known for its Victorian architecture and numerous public works of art, Eureka is also home to the Sequoia Park Zoo, California’s oldest zoo. Look for birds and hike the Eureka Waterfront Trail or visit Sequoia Park, the city’s 160-acre redwood grove. The average home value in Eureka is just over $400,000, but you can buy a nice three bedroom home for less than that price. Another bonus is that Humboldt County’s seat of Eureka has some great restaurants including the Sea Grill, which serves locally caught seafood; and Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, an artisanal chocolate factory.
Average house value: $416,207
cost of living: 1.1% below the US average
If you want both a big city feel and beach access: Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is a sizable city on the Gulf of Mexico that includes part of a barrier island and much of the land at the southern end of Corpus Christi and Nueces Bay. Bounded on either side by Padre Island National Seashore and Mustang Island State Park, access to underdeveloped beaches is readily available. Other attractions include the Texas State Aquarium, dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife; the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, a World War II aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum and venue; and the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center, a 180-acre botanical garden and nature center. Beach villas in Corpus Christi cost millions of dollars, but it is possible to purchase a beautiful three bedroom townhouse with pool access just a short walk to the ocean for less than $400,000. Considering its size, there are many different dining options in Corpus Christi, including restaurants like The Angry Marlin, which serves local seafood, and Fresco, which serves Mexican comfort food in a diner setting.
Average house value: $202,239
cost of living: 16.9% lower than the US average
If you want the beach without the scene: New Bedford, Massachusetts
Known as the place that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, New Bedford, once a whaling capital, remains the largest fishing port in the United States. This means that if you live there, you can find fresh seafood at the local markets or at restaurants like The Black Whale, dedicated to showcasing the town’s history. Part of the city lies on a peninsula, the city has beautiful public beaches as well as easy access to the more expensive Cape Cod, which is just 28 miles to the east. Single-family homes typically sell for well under $400,000.
Average house value: $355,398
cost of living: 0.4% higher than the US average