It’s no secret Americans love beaches. From Venice Beach to Miami Beach to the Jersey Shore, we can’t resist the draw of the sea and shore. If there’s anything the people of the Gulf Coast know, it’s that this is the place to be for beach lovers.
According to popular data website SmartAsset, the Gulf Coast is home to seven of the top ten most affordable beach towns in America. The website analyzed U.S. Census Data of 224 cities to find beach towns that offer affordable real estate near the ocean. In each of the most affordable beach towns, the median home value is below the national average and the beach is just a short walk away.
SmartAsset had these key findings in their study:
Located at the far western edge of the Florida panhandle, Pensacola is the most affordable of Florida’s many beach towns with some of the best beaches. The only public beach located within the city limits can be found at Bay Bluffs Park, on Escambia Bay. For a truly unbeatable beach experience, the award-winning Pensacola Beach is just a 20 minute drive from the city center.
As for the cost of living in Pensacola, the city’s median home value is $144,100, well under the national median. The typical homeowner in Pensacola spends $10,356 annually on housing, including mortgage, insurance, property taxes and utilities.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
While the median value of homes in Fort Walton Beach is highest among the top 10 most affordable beach towns, buyers in Fort Walton Beach get more value for their dollar. The average home size in the city is 6.3 rooms, larger than the typical beach town.
The state of Mississippi has just 44 miles of coastline, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a mere fraction of the coasts in states like Florida, Louisiana and Texas. That may account for why Gulfport is so often overlooked as a beachside destination – and why it is so affordable.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median home value in Gulfport is just $120,600. Homeowners in the city also benefit from the relatively low property taxes throughout the state of Mississippi. The typical Gulfport homeowner pays less than $1,000 annually in property taxes.
What does that buy you? Well, the city has several miles of white sand beaches located just across Beach Blvd. from its popular casinos and hotels. For an even more scenic beach experience, there is a ferry that runs from Gulfport to Ship Island, a pristine barrier island located about 10 miles off the Gulfport coast.
For those who love the beach but hate property taxes, Biloxi may be the perfect choice. The average effective property tax rate in the city is just 0.65%, lowest among any of the top 10 most affordable cities and second lowest among the top 25. That means that for every $100,000 in property value, the typical homeowner in Biloxi pays just $650 in annual property taxes.
And what do those low taxes buy you? The city boasts several miles of sandy beaches on the Mississippi Sound, with water temperatures in the 70s or 80s for most of the year.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Located just 90 miles from New Orleans, Bay St. Louis is a favorite destination for beach lovers from around southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi. In addition to the beach, the city is known for its historic architecture.