25 Most Affordable Beach Towns in the U.S.
Life’s a beach, right? Or, at least, for many of us, we wish it were. We’ve all had that fantasy of dropping everything and moving to a beach town. But when you think of America’s great beach towns, like the Hamptons, Miami, Malibu, Hilton Head, among many others, we get snapped right back into reality rather quickly — the cost of living in these spectacular beach towns is pretty darn high!
But it turns out, your beach-town dream may not be as far out of reach as you think. America is home to some affordable beach towns that come with beautiful stretches of coastline without the hefty price tag. These towns may not have the international reputation as other beach towns in the country, but that’s why they are so coveted — they fly below the radar and keep the cost of living low.
Some towns do have their drawbacks, like hurricane risks or higher crime rates, but if you know where to look, you can uncover some truly spectacular hidden beach gems. Whether you’re looking to move to the beach or simply visit on a budget, here are 25 of the most affordable beach towns in the U.S., from most to least expensive.
25. Charleston, South Carolina
Where to stay: Cozy Island Cottage
Median monthly housing cost: $1,533
Why it’s affordable: Charleston may not be the most affordable city in the nation, but as far as beach towns are concerned, it is absolutely more affordable than others. The city itself isn't directly on the beach, which is what makes it more affordable. However, you're never a far drive from the epic beaches nearby, like Folly Beach, Kiawah Island Beach, Seabrook Island Beach and Isle of Palms Beach.
The Experience in Charleston
One of America's richest cities in terms of culture, history, cuisine and nature, Charleston is the epitome of old-world charm.
When you're not lounging on the powder-soft white sand beaches of the nearby islands, you'll be strolling the 18th-century streets and buildings, tucking into James Beard award-winning cuisine and watching the boats come into the picturesque Charleston Harbor.
24. Wilmington Island, Georgia
Where to stay: DeSoto Beach Hotel
Median monthly housing cost: $1,424
Why it’s affordable: Wilmington Island's position between Savannah and the beach-facing islands is what makes it such a great place to live. And while the island itself is surrounded by waterways, it's not directly on the beach, which is what keeps the cost of living lower than other beach towns.
The Experience in Wilmington Island
Wilmington Island has a unique position situated quite literally between the best of both worlds. It is equidistant from the historic city of Savannah as it is to the spectacular beaches and seclusion of Tybee Island.
You can sunbathe on the shores in the morning and dress up to head to a romantic meal in Savannah's historic district in the evening.
23. Ocean Pines, Maryland
Where to stay: Stunning Renovated Direct Beachfront
Median monthly housing cost: $1,277
Why it’s affordable: Ocean Pines is just over the bay from the iconic Ocean City, Maryland — one of the great American boardwalk beach towns and a mid-Atlantic favorite vacation getaway. While real estate over in Ocean City may be much more expensive, Ocean Pines is much more affordable.
That said, the median home value is still just shy of $300,000, so it is still one of the more expensive places to live in America.
The Experience in Ocean Pines
Just over the bay from Ocean City, Ocean Pines is a quieter, more residential pocket not far from the beautiful sandy beaches of its more popular sister. But its residents love it for its small-town charm.
Ocean Pines has beautiful views, lush parks, restaurants and shopping. Plus, it has its own stretch of bayfront — nine miles to be exact.
22. Bremerton, Washington
Where to stay: Waterfront Manette Beach House
Median monthly housing cost: $1,268
Why it’s affordable: When it comes to Washington beach towns, Bremerton is one of the most affordable in the state. Still, it is one of the most expensive places to live in Kitsap County. It's not in Seattle proper, but just a short ferry ride away, which helps bring housing costs down. Residents of Bremerton can still work in Seattle with a short commute time, and many do.
The Experience in Bremerton
Just an hour from Seattle, Bremerton is a harbor side, beachfront town that provides a quieter escape from the busy city nearby.
With coffee shops, great restaurants, cafes, a marina and a thriving Arts District, Bremerton is much more than just a beach town across the sound from Seattle.
21. Eureka, California
Where to stay: Carter House Inn
Median monthly housing cost: $1,258
Why it’s affordable: A beach destination in California that is affordable? Can it be possible? Yes! In fact, it can. But it does come with a tradeoff — the weather. You won't be getting warm golden days in Eureka. Brace yourself for cold, fog and damp conditions the majority of the year. That said, if you want ocean views, Eureka has those in spades.
The Experience in Eureka
Eureka sits on the edge of California's expansive Humboldt Bay. The historic downtown is what you'd expect from an old Northern California town, shrouded in fog and peppered with historic architecture.
Artists, creatives and certainly a lot of hemp aficionados, flock for the dramatic coastal views and an eclectic waterfront.
20. Hampton, Virginia
Where to stay: Magnolia House Inn
Median monthly housing cost: $1,255
Why it’s affordable: Hampton, located near the bustling beach communities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, is popular among residents for its stable economy and proximity to the water. But while it may be one of America's more affordable beach towns, rising costs are starting to become a deterrent. The city is rapidly growing, which means that it won't stay affordable for long.
The Experience in Hampton
Hampton and Newport sit to the north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. The natural harbor that it sits on is one of the best ports along the entire eastern seaboard.
Residents and visitors to Hampton are close to the excitement and fun of Virginia Beach as well as the museums, performing arts, restaurants and other attractions.
19. Essex, Maryland
Where to stay: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Median monthly housing cost: $1,216
Why it’s affordable: Located in Baltimore County, Essex is a coastal community along the Black River. It's less expensive than other coastal towns in Maryland because it doesn't actually have direct ocean access. Rather, here, the residential areas overlook the river. The community is also a suburb of Baltimore.
The Experience in Essex
Cheap housing and proximity to Baltimore are what bring people to settle in Essex. It's a suburban environment with a lot of bars, restaurants and parks.
The majority of beaches in Essex are off Rocky Point Beach and Park, which is open year-round for fishing, boating and picnicking.
18. Middle River, Maryland
Where to stay: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront
Median monthly housing cost: $1,209
Why it’s affordable: A suburb of Baltimore, Middle River has a cost of living that is slightly higher than the national average but less expensive than Maryland's average. Residents pay the state average for goods and services, groceries and healthcare but far less than the state average on housing and transportation.
The Experience in Middle River
Middle River may not be as popular as Maryland's other coastal areas, but that means it's infinitely less expensive.
Visitors to this town, perched between the Gunpowder River and the Black River, are impressed by the many outdoor things to do, from the Gunpowder Falls State Park to Miami Beach Park.
17. Brunswick, Maine
Where to stay: Art Gallery Guest Suite
Median monthly housing cost: $1,086
Why it’s affordable: Brunswick is one of the best places to live in the state. It has wonderful public schools, is safe for families and has great restaurants and nightlife. Its chilly, long winters are what keeps this beach town more affordable than other ones in America. But this is one of the best overall areas to live in terms of quality of life.
The Experience in Brunswick
Brunswick was settled in the early 17th century and is dripping with colonial New England charm. Picture a stunning village green, historic homes and plenty of artsy culture.
The town is home to Bowdoin College, and over on Federal Street is where Harriet Beecher Stowe penned Uncle Tom's Cabin.
16. Galveston, Texas
Where to stay:Hotel Galvez and Spa
Median monthly housing cost: $1,047
Why it’s affordable: If you're going to move to a beach town in the U.S., you might as well move to one in a state that doesn't charge any income tax. But another reason for Galveston's affordability is that it is no stranger to natural disasters. It has seen its fair share of destructive hurricanes over the decades.
The Experience in Galveston
Equal parts Southern charm and beach-bum getaway, Galveston Island is one of the most popular beach getaways for Houston residents.
The city sits on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, with sprawling beaches (though not necessarily the best in Texas), lively nightlife and a non-stop energy that keeps the Texas Southern students coming in.
15. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Where to stay: Oakshade
Median monthly housing cost: $1,021
Why it’s affordable: Ocean Springs is a Gulf community with a small population of less than 18,000 and a median age of around 40. People love to live here because of the beautiful beaches, the winter climate and the entertainment. But it is one of the more affordable beach towns in the nation thanks to its location on the hurricane route and the high volume of tourists that come during the high season.
The Experience in Ocean Springs
Part of Mississippi's "Secret Coast," Ocean Springs is a beach town that features white, soft sand and a vibrant downtown, packed with boutiques, music and great restaurants. You can explore lovely museums, historic homes and linger on the 2.2 miles of beautiful beach.
The restaurants are also truly spectacular, from the casual Greenhouse on Porter to the more haute Vestige, serving New American and Japanese-inspired dishes.
14. Port Angeles, Washington
Where to stay: Bluff Haven
Median monthly housing cost: $981
Why it’s affordable: The cost of living in Port Angeles is more expensive than the national average but is less expensive than other places in the state of Washington. On average, residents pay more for goods, services, groceries and healthcare, but pay less for housing and transportation.
The Experience in Port Angeles
Not far from the energy and vibrancy of Seattle, Port Angeles is one of America's great small towns.
It's the largest city on the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles is at the doorstep of the Olympic National Park, with more than 600 miles of hiking trails, beaches, rivers, waterfalls and the only rainforest in the United States.
13. Hilo, Hawaii
Where to stay: SCP Hilo Hotel
Median monthly housing cost: $970
Why it’s affordable: Hawaii is certainly known for its beach towns, but it is not known for any of them being affordable. Hilo, however, may just break the mold. That said, a low cost of living comes with a higher risk in general. It has active volcanoes, tsunami threats and the highest rainfall in the nation. Second, it has a lack of some of the more tourist-friendly services that thrive on other islands, like malls, large cities and restaurants.
The Experience in Hilo
Hilo is Big Island's thriving core, though you're more likely to find other visitors roaming Kailua-Kona.
Still, Hilo is all about the traditional roots of Hawaii culture. Its population is a beautiful mix of native Hawaiians, Japanese, Portuguese, Puerto Ricans and Chinese, among others, and it draws an artistic crowd who come to explore its museums and the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
12. Coos Bay, Oregon
Where to stay: Mid-Century Home
Median monthly housing cost: $958
Why it’s affordable: Oregon's coast is a treasure trove of beaches and coastal vistas. Coos Bay is no exception when it comes to dramatic views. But one of the reasons it remains relatively affordable is that its winters can be windy and rainy. It also doesn't offer much in the way of shopping or dining — visitors often have to travel to other towns to find things to do.
The Experience in Coos Bay
Coos Bay is an adventurer's paradise, with bays, rivers, lakes and Oregon's famous dunes waiting to be explored. The city is about a 20-minute drive from the Pacific Ocean.
Summer is much livelier, with outdoor activities, like music, golf and farmers markets. Winter tends to be slower, quieter and wetter, though the Shores Acres State Park does an annual holiday lights display that is magnificent.
11. Pensacola, Florida
Where to stay: Margaritaville Beach Hotel
Median monthly housing cost: $940
Why it’s affordable: Low home values and affordable housing, plus relatively low property taxes are what make Pensacola so affordable. The panhandle town is not far from the Gulf towns of Mobile and Gulfport. The hurricane risk and the rate of city growth and sprawl are also what keeps housing costs low.
The Experience in Pensacola
Pensacola sits on a sandy stretch of the Pensacola Bay. Temperatures don't usually dip below the 50s in the winter. Because of its location to Mississippi and Alabama, the vibe here swings more Deep South than it does Floridian. The city has seen much European influence over the centuries.
Today, it is a small city brimming with things to do, like a symphony orchestra, ballet, opera, zip lining, museums and, of course, the beach.
10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Where to stay: South Beach Cottages
Median monthly housing cost: $912
Why it’s affordable: Myrtle Beach is one of America's most favorite vacation getaways. Visitors come for the 60 miles of beachfront and stay for the theme parks, live entertainment and restaurants. But the affordability comes from the fact that Myrtle Beach does have a high crime rate, which has brought home prices down. Also, the winter months tend to be very sleepy around here.
The Experience in Myrtle Beach
Sixty miles of beaches, water activities, theme parks, restaurants and golf courses — that is how vacationers and residents do Myrtle Beach.
From spring to autumn the Atlantic Coast is humming with activity, and the water is always churning with swimmers, jet skiers and parasailers.
9. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Where to stay: The Lodge at Gulf State Park
Median monthly housing cost: $901
Why it’s affordable: Gulf Shores may be more expensive than the rest of Alabama, but it is definitely cheaper than other beach towns in the United States. That is because, while it's economy is strong and crime rate is low, the community is fairly isolated, meaning residents have a long commute to work. The weather can also be unbearably humid in the summer, and there are limited cultural resources.
The Experience in Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores is the premiere beach getaway on the Alabama coastline. That's because it has powder-soft white sand that rings the Gulf of Mexico and plenty of beach resorts and vacation rentals to keep up.
In addition to the obvious waterfront activities, Gulf Shores is close to many restaurants and bars, shopping and the wharf in nearby Orange Beach.
8. Melbourne, Florida
Where to stay: Hibiscus Elegant Midcentury Beachside House
Median monthly housing cost: $853
Why it’s affordable: With a population of just under 80,000 and a median age of 45, Melbourne is a smaller city with a young population. Residents love to live here because of the climate and water recreation, and the cost of living continues to rise as people discover this lesser-known coastal gem. Melbourne is also across the bay from the barrier island that has the more famous Cocoa Beach.
The Experience in Melbourne
Part of the Space Coast, Melbourne has beautiful beaches on the barrier island across the channel. The town is home to the Florida Institute of Technology and is only 30 miles east of Orlando, which means that residents have both beach vibes as well as the conveniences of a college town and a major city.
Museums, NASA, beaches, restaurants and the theme parks of Orlando are all within easy reach, too.
7. Gulfport, Mississippi
Where to stay:Palmetto House
Median monthly housing cost: $811
Why it’s affordable: Gulfport is another hidden gem. It's a small town on the seasonal hurricane path, which is what keeps costs low. But the 26 miles of beaches, mild climate, palmetto groves and wildlife-filled marshlands make this beach town a really lovely place to be.
The Experience in Gulfport
Gulfport is Mississippi's second largest city and enjoys the benefit of being perched right along the Gulf Coast. It's a summer getaway for New Orleans residents, as well as those from around the region.
The area is packed with history, culture, seafood restaurants and stunning beaches. The town is also much quieter than other towns along Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
6. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Where to stay: Pearl Hotel
Median monthly housing cost: $782
Why it’s affordable: Bay St. Louis is attractive to residents and visitors because of its beautiful gulf beaches, temperate winter climate and plenty of entertainment during high season. However, one of the reasons it may be more affordable than other beach towns is because it’s almost too popular with tourists, lacks arts and culture, and is on the seasonal hurricane path.
The Experience in Bay St. Louis
Mississippi's coast is truly beautiful, even though most travelers opt for Florida's Gulf Coast over the beaches in the other Southern states.
But the seasonal town of Bay St. Louis is just 50 miles from New Orleans, offering an uninterrupted stretch of white sand, leisurely piers and several shops and eateries.
5. Biloxi, Mississippi
Where to stay: Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino
Median monthly housing cost: $737
Why it’s affordable: Biloxi has beautiful Gulf beaches, a mild winter climate and tons of entertainment. But what keeps its cost of living low is the hurricane risk as well as the tourist sprawl, which tends to then leave the community snoozing in the off season.
The Experience in Biloxi
The shoreline of Biloxi is flanked with massive oceanfront casinos, which are the major draw to this coastal community. But upon closer look, visitors will also notice the historic downtown district and the sunsets that set the sky on fire.
Affordable lodging and an energetic nightlife make Biloxi a major vacation destination for the surrounding area. Of course, if you want something more tranquil, you can just head over the bridge into Ocean Springs.
4. Daytona Beach, Florida
Where to stay: Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort
Median monthly housing cost: $723
Why it’s affordable: Daytona Beach is one of America's most beloved beach-party capitals in the country. From Spring Break to NASCAR, Daytona Beach can be a wild time. Of course, when there aren't festivals or events, the town is relatively quiet. Prices are considerably lower than Miami, but compared to the rest of Florida, you'll still be paying around half a million to live on the beach.
The Experience in Daytona Beach
If it's racing season or Spring Break, forget about it. Daytona is hot, and the boardwalk hums with tourists who spill out of the oceanfront bars and restaurants.
But Daytona Beach has 23 miles of wide, hard-packed sand that allows for myriad activities, from beach sports to beach driving. Water activities fill the rest of your time, from diving to paddle board yoga. In the summer, you can evencatch sea turtles crawling up onto the sand to lay their eggs.
3. Fort Pierce, Florida
Where to stay: Island Beach Resort
Median monthly housing cost: $655
Why it’s affordable: Tucked between Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce is located on the bay behind the Atlantic-facing Hutchinson Island. The town is popular because of its beach location and plenty of outdoor activities, but it lacks arts and culture and is fairly isolated when it comes to having other things to do. It also is at a high hurricane risk during hurricane season.
The Experience in Fort Pierce
Making up part of the "Treasure Coast," Fort Pierce is a laid-back, residential community that offers beautiful surroundings but less of the activity found at other beach towns farther south.
The town is growing in terms of business, and what people can expect is a tropical coastal environment, agriculture and lots of vegetation. Lake Okeechobee is 40 miles southwest.
2. Freeport, Texas
Where to stay: Ocean Village Hotel
Median monthly housing cost: $479
Why it’s affordable: The small town of Freeport has just over 12,000 residents and a median age of 27 years old. Residents love it because of the growing economy, entertainment, proximity to the beach and cost of living. However, expenses are often kept low because it's not the prettiest of towns. In fact, it has quite a bit of sprawl for such a small city.
The Experience in Freeport
Freeport's coastal waterways are teeming with fish, so you can imagine that fishing is one of the biggest draws to this part of the country. Offshore charter boat services are available to cruise up and down the Brazos River or off the coast of Bryan Beach.
A historic downtown has blocks of buildings from the early 20th century as well as The Freeport Historical Museum. Golf, bird watching, camping and dining are among the other activities that visitors and residents enjoy on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
1. Port Arthur, Texas
Where to stay: Home2 Suites by Hilton
Median monthly housing cost: $455
Why it’s affordable: Port Arthur has gone through a revitalization that has resulted in a refreshed downtown. That, plus outdoor recreation and a low cost of living is what makes it attractive. However, the reason why cost of living is so low is because of unpredictable hurricanes, an industrial landscape and summer weather, which can be unbearably hot and humid.
The Experience in Port Arthur
Port Arthur was founded in the late 19th century and, at one time, was the center of the largest oil refinery in the world. Today, what brings visitors to Port Arthur are the history, wildlife and beaches.
Water sports and historic sites are the main attractions here. Try kayaking around Sea Rim State Park or explore the mansions like the glorious White Haven.