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Surf’s Up, Prices Down: America’s 10 Most Affordable Beach Towns for Homebuyers in 2024

It’s that time of year again—school’s out for the summer, and families across the country are packing up to hit the beaches.


You’ve likely dreamed of turning your summer vacation spot into a regular weekend getaway or even a full-time residence. But buying a beach home comes with a major obstacle: the high price of prime coastal real estate.


With that in mind, the Realtor.com® team has again calculated the most affordable beach towns for homebuyers for 2024. Following a few tweaks to the methodology, Mississippi’s Gulf Shore still reigns supreme for affordability. However, this year, Pascagoula, MS, unseated Gulfport, MS, as the country’s No. 1 beach town for home affordability.



 How we determined the most affordable beach towns


Starting with a federal database of beaches and their locations, we created a list of coastal cities and towns. Then, we ranked them by median list prices in March for single-family homes, including condominiums but excluding mobile homes. Only cities with at least 25 active listings for the month were included, to ensure adequate inventory.


To make the final list, these beach towns had to include a sandy, public-access ocean beach within the city limits. Cities on the coastline of estuaries, such as inland bays and sounds, were excluded from this year’s rankings.


Finally, to ensure geographic diversity, we included only one beach town per state in the top 10 rankings, excluding second or third entries from states already listed.


This three-bedroom in Pascagoula, MS, is just a 10-minute walk to the beach. It recently hit the market at $119,900.


March 2024 median list price: $164,900


Mississippi’s Gulf Shore regularly ranks highly on our list for beach town affordability, and this year is no exception.


Pascagoula, a city of about 22,000, is the birthplace of famed beach-bum musician Jimmy Buffett. The city’s main public beach is dubbed Buffett Beach in tribute to the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” singer, who died last year at the age of 76.


In addition to its beach, Pascagoula features a public fishing pier, as well as a nine-hole regulation golf course at the Pascagoula Country Club. A short boat ride away is Petit Bois Island, a federally protected wilderness area. Though the island has no structures or facilities, it is open to the public, offering the experience of a private island getaway for day-trippers visiting by private boat.


The city is not known as a place for second homes, and most properties here are owner-occupied primary residences, according to O’Sullivan, the mortgage loan officer in Pascagoula.


Pascagoula has bounced back strongly after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina nearly two decades ago, she says, with new bars, restaurants, and shops springing up in the city.

 


A studio condo in this Atlantic City, NJ, beachfront development was recently listed for $150,000.


March 2024 median list price: $239,000 


Perhaps better known for its casinos than its beaches, Atlantic City’s shoreline still sees big influxes of beachgoers on sunny summer days.


The seaside resort town, known as the “Las Vegas of the East Coast,” does not lack amusement and entertainment options. The city’s famous boardwalk is also crowded with dining and shopping options, and a prime spot for people-watching on the Jersey Shore.



Florida’s most affordable beach town in 2024 is Deerfield Beach, where a one-bedroom condo in this development was recently listed for $140,000.


March 2024 median list price: $239,950


Out of Florida’s many beach towns, Deerfield Beach claims the top spot for affordability this year, primarily due to the city’s abundance of moderately priced condos.


Located about halfway between Miami and Palm Beach in southeast Florida, Deerfield Beach boasts plenty of activities and amenities, including a fishing pier, boardwalk, and arboretum.


Deerfield Island Park, a county-run nature refuge, is accessible by free boat rides from the mainland every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.



This beachfront one-bedroom unit in Dennis Port, MA, is listed for $223,000. At 500 square feet, the quarters are cramped—but just outside, the lengthy shoreline awaits.


March 2024 median list price: $277,500


It might come as a surprise that a seaside village on upscale Cape Cod not only made our top 10 list of affordable beach towns, but also landed in the top five.


Dennis Port’s relatively low list prices are due to the abundance of small, World War II–era beach cottages that line its shores. On a square-footage basis, they are relatively pricey. But if you are comfortable with cramped quarters, these cottages offer ownership of a home with ocean views and direct beach access at an attainable price.


For example, this 367-square-foot one-bedroom is smaller than some backyard sheds. But, currently listed at $189,000, it offers ocean views from a spacious outdoor patio, and the beach is a short two-minute walk away.



A one-bedroom condo in this beachfront complex in Myrtle Beach, SC, was recently listed for $195,000.


March 2024 median list price: $299,500

A famed resort city, Myrtle Beach makes this year’s list primarily due to its high density of condo units, which brings the median list price down.


The city of roughly 38,000 sits in the middle of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, an uninterrupted 60-mile stretch of sandy beaches. Myrtle Beach is famed for its large number of golf courses, including many celebrity-designed entries from the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.


Other popular amusements in the city include Ripley’s Aquarium, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and a 187-foot tall Ferris wheel towering over the boardwalk.



This three-bedroom home in Corpus Christi, TX, was recently listed for $198,000. It’s a 10-minute drive from the beaches of Padre Island.


March 2024 median list price: $315,000


Corpus Cristi’s city limits include parts of Padre Island and Mustang Island, both popular destinations for Texas beachgoers. The city of roughly 300,000 features a good mix of attainably priced housing, including beachfront condo units and modestly sized homes located a short drive from the beach.


Parking at Padre Island’s beach is rarely an issue, since the national seashore there allows driving on the shoreline. Pickup trucks with well-stocked coolers are a common sight on the beach, though four-wheel drive is highly recommended.


Local attractions in Corpus Christi include the USS Lexington Museum aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier, the Texas State Aquarium, and the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center.



This three-bedroom home in Sunset Beach, NC, sits on an inland waterway. However, it’s a five-minute drive from the seaside town’s public beach. The home was recently listed for $339,900.


March 2024 median list price: $340,000

Most of the homes sitting directly on the sandy shore of Sunset Beach run upward of $1 million. But a short drive of a few minutes inland opens up a range of attainably priced single-family homes, and a number of condominium complexes.


Originally named “Bald Beach,” the seaside town got its more attractive current name in the 1950s, from a developer who was impressed by the sunset views from the southeast-facing barrier island.


Attractions in Sunset Beach include the Ingram Planetarium and a fishing pier. On Bird Island, hikers can enjoy the undeveloped nature preserve. The island is home to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, a local oddity where passersby can leave their thoughts. The mysterious seaside mailbox was the inspiration for the Nicholas Spark novel “Every Breath.”



This three-bedroom home in Grand Isle, LA, is on the market for $300,000.


March 2024 median list price: $375,000


Located on a remote barrier island on Louisiana’s Gulf Shore, Grand Isle is known for its beaches, migratory bird habitats, and surfable waves.


Even large beach houses on Grand Isle are relatively cheap compared with many other coastal towns, but there’s a significant catch. The area has been repeatedly pummeled by hurricanes, and flood insurance on homes there will likely come at a steep premium.


For beach lovers who can stomach the risk, Grand Isle offers well-maintained sandy shores, a state park with a fishing pier, seafood and daiquiri joints, and plenty of fishing charters.



The two-bedroom beach house seen in the foreground, second from right, in Newport, OR, was recently listed for $375,000.


March 2024 median list price: $399,950


The highest-ranked West Coast beach town on this year’s list, Newport is home to historic Nye Beach, a popular vacation spot on Oregon’s coast since the late 19th century.


Newport owes its attainable listing prices to a mix of beachfront condos and smaller homes within walking distance of the shore. For example, this two-bedroom, 912-square-foot cottage sits on the bluffs overlooking Nye Beach and is listed for $389,900.


Local attractions include the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area.



This two-bedroom beach house in Ocean Shores, WA, is a five-minute walk to the shore. It was recently listed for $379,000.


March 2024 median list price: $425,000


Ocean Shores, a small city of about 6,700 residents on the Washington coast, rounds out this year’s top 10 list of affordable beach towns.

 

Situated on the Point Brown peninsula, Ocean Shores has direct shoreline access to both the Pacific Ocean and the north bay of Grays Harbor. Nearby attractions include hiking and equestrian trails, a public golf course, and the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.



By Keith Griffith

May 21, 2024

 

 

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