Having a home away from home is a dream for many Americans—and for a lot of us that dream includes a quick walk to the beach and all the amenities you can only find on a boardwalk.
While many beloved beach towns like Key West, Florida and Santa Monica, California are out of reach for the typical homebuyer, with median prices in the millions, affordable beach towns do exist. In Florida alone there are seven coastal cities where the median home price is less than $280,000.
To help you achieve your beach house dreams, we’ve rounded up the 15 most affordable beach towns in the U.S. and chatted with Redfin real estate agents about what makes each unique. At these prices, you’ll have your toes in the sand in no time!
Median Sale Price: $52,250
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 27.6%
“Atlantic City and its surrounding beach towns have so much to offer someone looking for a vacation home,” said Redfin real estate agent Kimberly Mogan. “Not only does Atlantic City boast some of the finest beaches on the east coast, including an iconic boardwalk, the town offers glitzy nightlife, beautiful casinos, restaurants and an impressive lineup of year-round events. It’s a perfect home away from home for someone who thrives in an action-packed city.”
2. Miami, FL
Median Sale Price: $275,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 11.7%
“Many of my clients end up buying a second home in Miami,” said Redfin real estate agent Jose Medina. “The year-round warm weather is what gets them to visit Miami the first time, but once here they quickly fall in love with what Miami is best know for: The beaches, the culture, the lifestyle.
Miami is an emerging city with something for everyone. On the streets of Brickell (Miami’s financial district) you’ll experience a New York-type hustle and bustle. If it’s music you love, downtown Miami offers the yearly Ultra Music Festival in Bayfront Park. Golfers can lay back and play 18 holes of Golf in a PGA golf course. And, of course, there are the incredible beaches.”
Median Sale Price: $174,250
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 19%
Clearwater, a city in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, is a year-round destination with entertainment for visitors and residents on any budget.
“Two things Clearwater offers in abundance are beautiful beaches and small-town charm,” said Redfin real estate agent Starlet Jordan. “Caladesi Island, which is less than 10 minutes north of Clearwater, has been recognized as one of the nation’s best beaches. There is also a beautiful beach resort called San Pearl and several new luxury hotels with amazing waterfront restaurants. Check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium where you’ll find Winter the Dolphin, star of the movie Dolphin Tale!”
Median Sale Price: $170,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 28%
“West Palm Beach offers a Key West-style of living, but in the financial district of downtown. You can find everything from high-rise condos to single-family homes in all price points,” said Redfin real estate agent Delray Valle.
“West Palm is know for Clematis Street, which is the historical heart of downtown and features night clubs, live music, boutiques, historical landmarks and incredible restaurants. Outside of having beautiful white sandy beaches, there is entertainment galore in West Palm Beach. There’s the Kravis Center, which is where Broadway shows hit south Florida; City Place, which is known for outside dining, mall shopping and a variety of museums and art; and private golf country clubs, as well as yachting clubs. West Palm Beach also has the only drive-through safari in the United States, called Lion Country Safari. The animals walk around your car freely as you drive through! Another attraction is Worth Ave., which is home to designer and high-end retail shops. Finally, Florida doesn’t have state taxes, so everyone loves that!”
Median Sale Price: $136,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 37%
“About half of my closings this year have been from out of state buyers,” said Redfin real estate agent Tim Harper. “The main appeal of the Daytona Beach area, which sits between Port Orange and Ormond Beach, is our beautiful beach that runs about 20 miles long. Nationally speaking, we are one of the more affordable coastal areas and we’re on people’s radar for that reason. The home values are on the rise and the growth of commercial building has increased greatly with The Hard Rock, Latitude Margaritaville and Tanger Outlet Mall all going up recently. The warm climate and the proximity to Jacksonville and Orlando are great perks as well.”
Median Sale Price: $240,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 11.2%
“Corpus Christi offers lots affordable beach-front and canal-front homes,” said Redfin real estate agent Cindy Kranzel. “One of my clients recently told me they wanted a vacation home in Corpus Christi because the people here are ‘so friendly.’ It’s also a great place for a second home because of the extended rental season; Texas retirees and business owners looking to escape the snow flock here in the winter. Attractions in Corpus Christi include USS Lexington tours, the Texas State Aquarium, horseback riding tours on the beach, the Selena Museum and more.”
Median Sale Price: $224,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 22.3%
“Galveston’s glistening beaches, quaint historic downtown shops on The Strand and beautiful East End Victorian homes are enough to make anyone want to vacation here,” said Redfin real estate agent Angela Pachicano. “But the island also offers a multitude of museums and live music. No matter what month you visit, there is always something to do—from movie nights to sand castle competitions to princess day on the beach!”
Median Sale Price: $155,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 32%
Fort Pierce, Florida is known by locals as the “sunrise city”, and for good reason! It offers sandy beaches, restaurants, charter boats and clear views of the water. You can interact with marine life at one of the many research facilities or museums that care for endangered manatees, dolphins and coral reefs. Also popular is the historical National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, established in honor of those who trained in Fort Pierce during World War II. With a median sale price of just $155,000, it’s one of the most affordable beach towns on our list.
9. Sarasota, FL
Median Sale Price: $260,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 17.5%
“Sarasota offers an impressive mix of culture and waterfront lifestyle that I find to be really unique and difficult to find all in one place,” said Redfin agent Brian Walsh. “From the quaint downtown strip of shops and boutiques to the equally charming St. Armand’s circle, the whole area is just as varied and engaging as anyone could hope. The pace is certainly more southern than northern, but when you’re just a few minutes from some of the world’s most famous beaches that’s sort of expected.
I also love the shopping and art scene in Sarasota. I think the blend of city culture and beach leisure is what really makes it a great place to find a vacation home. You can enjoy the solitude of a book on the beach and then run to UTC for some shopping. Sarasota has personality in every direction.”
10. Jacksonville, FL
Median Sale Price: $168,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 15.2%
“Miles of beautiful, easily accessible beaches and abundant outdoor activities draw people to Jacksonville,” said Redfin real estate agent Wendy Seidel. “There are also great museums, festivals, sporting events, concerts and farmers markets throughout the year. Jacksonville is within close proximity to historic St. Augustine and an easy drive to Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston and the Florida Keys. The downtown area is being revitalized with new restaurants and shops. It’s a great place to buy a vacation home right now!”
11. Norfolk, VA
Median Sale Price: $179,900
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 11.2%
Norfolk, VA is home to beautiful waterfront views, boardwalks and other local amenities great for families. Virginia’s most-populated city, Virginia Beach, sits close by as a great resource for entertainment, food and outdoor activities: on the water, in town or in the park. The beach town-feel provides an inviting atmosphere that’s comfortable and accommodating for all age groups.
12. Portland, ME
Median Sale Price: $279,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 6.7%
“The Portland area boasts miles of sandy beaches, seaside state parks, breathtaking harbor and ocean views and picture-perfect sailing waterways, all within minutes of downtown Portland,” said Redfin real estate agent Van Wilkerson. “The Portland Headlight lighthouse is a popular summertime destination, as are the Old Port shopping district and excursions on or from Casco Bay. Portland is nationally renowned for its fine dining and craft brewery scenes, recognized by Bon Apetit magazine, the New York Times and many more in recent years as a top food and beverage destination. Seafood caught fresh off the coast and prepared daily by innovative chefs is the mainstay of Portland’s culinary appeal.
The Portland Arts District houses world-class museums, art galleries, antique shops and artist studios, as well as multiple performance spaces. A self-guided walking tour of the district takes place on the first Friday evening of each month when all galleries, museums and local businesses open their doors to the public. Recently voted one of the Greenest Small Cities, Portland and surrounding towns have 11 professional golf courses, 124 tennis courts, 95 playgrounds and acres of parks and nature trails. A popular farm-to-table destination, local growers supply organic meats and produce to Portland restaurants, supermarkets and neighborhood grocery stores.”
13. Charleston, SC
Median Sale Price: $278,625
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 6.1
“Charleston is full of southern charm and fun things to do,” said Redfin real estate agent Michael Dalnekoff. “You can find festivals for just about anything. Right now, we have the internationally recognized Spoleto Festival going on. For 17 days, historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces in Charleston are filled with performances by artists and performers in opera, dance, theater and more.
Charleston is also a foodie heaven. Downtown offers lots of walkable restaurants and bars. For the outdoors lover, there is tons of recreation, including beaches, golf, marshlands and wildlife preserves. There are historic carriage rides and many historic preserved plantations for the history buff. No matter what you’re interested in, Charleston is a great place for a second home.”
14. Long Branch, NJ
Median Sale Price: $332,500
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 17%
Long Branch was once known as the Hollywood of the East Coast, where many acclaimed actors and actresses gathered and performed. By it’s current residents, it is often regarded as a “hidden gem.” In addition to a great public beach, Long Branch offers a wide variety of annual events and activities including free outdoor concerts, boardwalk workouts, free movies at the pier and more. Long Branch is home to the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, which was named for the seven U.S. presidents who visited the town.
15. Oxnard, CA
Median Sale Price: $450,000
Portion of Homes Waterfront: 5.1%
If your beach home dreams include the Pacific Ocean and a quick drive to Los Angeles, Oxnard is the city for you. Oxnard is 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and offers beautiful weather, a myriad of outdoor recreation opportunities and miles of uncrowded beaches. Farmers markets, festivals, concerts and museums will keep you busy when you’re not hitting the beach.
Redfin looked at coastal cities with populations of at least 1,000 people and identified those where at least 3 percent of the vacant units were flagged by the Census as being for seasonal use to define “vacation cities.” The cities also had to have a median price per square foot of under $300 and a median sale price under $1 million. We then ranked each of the places by an equal combination of the following five factors:
- Price per square foot during the first three months of 2017
- Portion of properties on waterfront (using previous 3 years of listings)
- Percent of properties flagged for seasonal use by the Census
- Population (larger cities rank better)
- Walk Score
Want to start searching for a vacation home? Reach out to a Redfin agent below!