Every year, the team at realtor.com searches the United States for the most affordable beach towns. To find America’s most affordable beach towns, realtor.com located the country’s biggest metropolitan areas with the highest share of listings with keywords such as “beach,” “beachfront,” and “ocean.” Then they made sure these areas had lots of fun water-based activities, narrowing the list to the places that boast the highest percentage of things like rafting, kayaking, surfing, boating, and fishing on yelp.com. The metros were then ranked based on their median prices for the 12-month period of May 2018 to April 2019.
Not all of these cities are actually on the shore, but they all include at least one beach area within their confines. The rankings were limited to just 2 metros per state to ensure some geographic diversity.
Here are the most affordable beach towns of 2019:
- Jacksonville (Median List Price: $198,846)
Topsail and Surf City, both part of the Jacksonville metro area, have been attracting second home owners from all over the country. There is an especially long beach season here, stretching from late March through October, and excellent boating with large docks and deep channels.
The area is particularly popular with military families, who have been stationed nearby at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and nature lovers are fond of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City.
It is possible to find a 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhome with ocean views, right on the sand starting around $300,000. Or you can go inland a block or 2 and save big bucks on a beach cottage.
- Aberdeen, WA (Median List Price: $229,564)
Known as the “Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula,” Aberdeen is nearly two hours southwest of Seattle and just a short drive from Olympic National Park. It is not, however, a beach town itself. But the city leads to two nice oceanfront areas nearby. The ocean waters are clear but chilly, best for surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding in the area’s freshwater canals.
The most affordable beach homes are in Greyland and Westport. You are looking at about $150,000 to $200,000 for a single-family home. For that price, a home may not be on the sand, but it’ll be close. The area is full of two- and three-bedroom 1940s Cape Codders and bungalows. Most are occupied by year-round residents.
Ocean Shores, WA, on the north side, is the opposite. Most of the homes there are owned by folks who live in Seattle and Tacoma, WA who come in for long weekends and vacations. Buyers can get deals on condos for around the same price as a free-standing house in Westport.
- Atlantic City, NJ (Median List Price: $241,655)
Atlantic City is known these days for killer real estate deals near some of the northeast’s widest, sandiest beaches.
Proximity is key here: It’s just an hour and a half from Philadelphia and two-and-a-half hours from New York City. So it’s closer than the Hamptons during traffic, and just a fraction of the price. You can get a 1-bedroom condo in a midcentury, beachfront building with a pool for under $1,000.
- Myrtle Beach, SC (Median List Price: $245,233)
Myrtle Beach is the fastest-growing metro in the United States. The city boasts more than 3,000 listings under $200,000, the bulk of which are townhomes and condos that are popular among second-home buyers. Many of those out-of-towners rent out their oceanfront high-rise condos which operate like hotels.
The median price for these condo-like hotels is $140,000. You can find a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with fenced backyard in Surfside Beach for $190,000 to $200,000 within walking distance to the shore.
- Palm Bay, FL (Median List Price: $269,393)
Melbourne Beach is the southernmost surf beach in the state and the vibe there is a blend of Old Florida and California surfer cool.
Up and down the barrier island that protects the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean in towns such as Melbourne and Indialantic, homeowners can get a 2-bedroom unit under $200,000.
If you are willing to cross over to the mainland, you can get a single-family home just a short walk from the Intracoastal Waterway at the same entry level price.
- Port St. Lucie, FL (Median List Price: $279,696)
Port St. Lucie is a quiet and affordable city on Florida’s laid-back Treasure Coast. The median list price in the city is $205,000 making it a top choice for retirees.
Beyond the Savannah Preserve State park, which marks the end of the city, you’ll find Hutchinson Island. In the Jensen Beach area of the barrier island, buyers can find a large 1 and 2-bedroom, beachfront condo starting in the mid $200,000s.
- Virginia Beach, VA (Median List Price: $284,873)
Virginia Beach is a sprawling city where Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, just 2 hours southeast of Richmond, VA. The region has a rich maritime and military history, burgeoning culinary scene, and more activities to keep families entertained than most will ever need, from kayaking with dolphins to wild horse tours.
It is possible to find oceanfront condos on the outskirts and in neighboring towns starting in the low $200,000s. Many 2nd home buyers head to Sandbridge where the single-family homes are on stilts and condos are available under $300,000. If you head out to Norfolk, you can find small condos on the water for under $200,000.
- Salisbury, MD (Median List Price: $314,396)
Maryland’s bucolic eastern shore is known for its historic towns, crab shacks, and natural beauty making it a haven for boaters, anglers, swimmers and sunbathers. Ocean City, part of the Salisbury metro, is the epicenter of the summertime action.
In Ocean City, buyers can get into a 2-bedroom, 2 bath condo overlooking the ocean for around $250,000. Investors also purchase these properties to rent out to vacationers. Those on a tighter budget can find condos farther from the beach starting in the mid $100,000s.
- Morehead City, NC (Median List Price: $327,580)
Morehead City and its surrounding towns are a playground for maritime enthusiasts. The area offers every type of water sport imaginable, in both the Atlantic and the Bogue Sound. The mainland city is protected by a barrier island, Bogue Banks, boasting beautiful beaches.
In Bogue Banks communities like Atlantic Beach, buyers can pick up older 2-bedroom, 2-bath condos and townhomes with water views right near the beach starting under $200,000. If having a dock for your boat is a priority, Morehead City and surrounding communities offer waterfront condos and houses right on the sound for around $350,000.
- Portland, ME (Median List Price: $357,682)
Portland’s real beach town is Scarborough, about 20 minutes south of downtown. It’s a classic New England beach scene, with summer vacationers kayaking through coastal marshes, hiking or biking on local nature trails, and sunbathing on its sandy beaches.
The median list price of $410,000 is a bit higher than the Portland metro overall. But those seeking a place that can bring in some short-term rental cash can get into an older three-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape Cod or Colonial starting in the high $300,000-range.