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most affordable beach towns
If you’re thinking about investing in a beach town property – whether to rent out or use as a vacation home for yourself – you might quickly realize that not every city by the ocean may be the right fit. With lots of factors to consider, such as mortgage payments, property taxes and amount of space, SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find the most affordable beach towns in the U.S.

We looked at data for 219 waterfront cities across four metrics: median home value, average number of rooms per house, median property taxes paid and monthly housing costs. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out our Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth annual study on the most affordable beach towns in America. Check out the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • Mississippi, Florida and Texas. The top 10 most affordable beach towns in our study are all located in the South, specifically in three states. Four of the cities are located in Mississippi, four in Florida and two in Texas.
  • Low property taxes. Current and potential homeowners alike can take advantage of the relatively low property taxes in the top 10 cities. All 10 cities rank within the top 12% of the study for this metric and the average amount paid in property taxes across these cities is $1,154, compared to an average of $8,453 across the bottom 10 cities in the study.

1. Gulfport, MS

Gulfport, Mississippi ranks as the most affordable beach town in America, with top-10 figures in three of the four metrics we considered. It ranks in the top 10 of the study for three out of the four metrics we considered. The median home value in Gulfport is $120,600, the fourth-lowest value for this metric in the study. Furthermore, the city has the fifth-lowest figure in the study for monthly housing costs, at $833, and the 10th-lowest figure for median property taxes paid, at $1,006.

 2. Biloxi, MS

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi, Mississippi has top-15 rates for its relatively low median home value and median property taxes paid, at $156,700 and $1,093, respectively. Furthermore, the city has a top-five rate for its low monthly housing costs, at $809, making it a great potential spot to invest in a beach town property.

 3. Pensacola, FL (tie)

Pensacola, Florida ties for third place with Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It ranks in the top 25% of the study for all four metrics we examined. It has the 15th-lowest median home value in the study, at $165,700. It ranks 19th-best for the metrics of median property taxes paid, at $1,234, and monthly housing costs, at $932. Furthermore, it has the second-highest average number of rooms per house in the top 10, at 6.4.

 3. Bay St. Louis, MS (tie)

Tied with Pensacola, Florida for the No. 3 spot, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi ranks particularly well for its low monthly housing costs. In 2018, the median monthly housing costs in the city were $761, the third-lowest in the study. Additionally, Bay St. Louis ranks within the top 10% of all 219 cities we examined for the metrics of median home value, at $170,400, and median property taxes paid, at $1,167.

 5. Port Arthur, TX

Located about 100 miles east of Houston, Port Arthur, Texas ranks in the bottom half of the study for its relatively low average number of rooms per house. However, it leads all 219 cities in two other metrics, median home value and monthly housing costs. The median home value in Port Arthur is $65,700, almost two-thirds less than the home value in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the city in our top 10 with the highest home value. Partly as a result of this, monthly housing costs in Port Arthur are the lowest in the study, at $628.

 6. Ocean Springs, MS

The fourth and final Mississippi beach town in our study, Ocean Springs takes the No. 6 spot. The city ranks within the top 20% of the study for all four metrics we considered. Specifically, the median home value there is $165,100 and median property taxes paid total $1,353. Furthermore, Ocean Springs boasts the highest average number of rooms per house across any city in our top 10 – at approximately 6.5 rooms, that’s likely to fit extra family members or guests that are staying with you.

 7. Freeport, TX

Located on the Gulf of Mexico about 60 miles south of Houston, Freeport, Texas is similar to Port Arthur in its low median home value and low monthly housing costs, ranking second-best for each of these metrics. Specifically, the median home value in Freeport was $75,700 and median monthly housing costs total were $657 in 2018.

 8. Melbourne, FL

Located southeast of Orlando, Melbourne, Florida ranks eighth overall in our study on the most affordable beach towns in the U.S. It ranks within the top 10% of the study for three of the four metrics we considered: median home value ($155,300), median property taxes paid ($1,232) and monthly housing costs ($920).

 9. Fort Walton Beach, FL

Although the median home value in Fort Walton Beach, Florida is the least affordable in our top 10, at $179,600, the city still ranks within the top 25 for this metric out of all 219 cities in the study. Those who decide to invest in property in this beach town will likely be able to find a place that is roomy enough, as the average number of rooms per house is 6.3. Median property taxes paid total less than $1,300 and monthly housing costs total $969.

 10. Fort Pierce, FL

Fort Pierce, Florida ranks in the bottom 35 of the study for its average number of rooms per house, at 5.3. The city has top-10 rates, however, for three of the other metrics we considered. It has the third-lowest median home value ($100,100) the seventh-lowest monthly housing costs ($842) and the ninth-lowest median property taxes ($924).

Data and Methodology

To find the most affordable beach towns in the U.S., SmartAsset analyzed data for 219 waterfront cities. Specifically, we looked at the following four factors:

  • Home value. This is the median home value in each city. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Number of rooms. This is the average number of rooms per house. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Property taxes. This is the median annual property taxes paid. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Monthly housing costs. This is the median monthly housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 5-year American Community Survey.

We ranked each beach town in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics expect for average number of rooms per house, which was half-weighted. We then found each town’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The place with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The place with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Managing a Mortgage

  • Make sure you are ready to buy. Investing in property is a big decision, whether you are the one ultimately moving in or renting it out. Be certain of whether you’re ready to buy rather than rent.
  • Get clarity on how much you can afford. Especially if your beach house is a second home, you want to make sure you’re not straining your finances. Make sure you know how much house you can afford.
  • Relax and let the experts handle it. Does the thought of managing all of your finances make you want to be lounging on the beach instead? It can all be a breeze with a little help from a financial expert. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/FatCamera

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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