Most Affordable Beach Towns To Retire

If you are looking to live in an affordable beach town when you retire, there are many great options to choose from.

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If you are looking to live in an affordable beach town when you retire, there are many great options to choose from.

Retirement is something that sparks different emotions and dreams in all of us, depending on where we want to live, and how much money we have to live on. If you are someone who wants to live near the beach but aren’t sure if you can afford it, there are lots of options around our country that will allow you to live in a beach town without breaking your retirement budget.

The 7 most affordable beach towns that you can retire to are:

  • Hobe Sound, Florida
  • Dunedin, Florida
  • Hampton, Virginia
  • Middle River, Maryland
  • Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama

Planning for retirement can feel daunting, to say the least. Even for those who have been able to sock away a decent nest egg, it’s still common to worry if it’s going to be enough. Beach towns are a popular destination for many people in their retirement, but we know they can be expensive. Rest assured – there are lots of options if you want to live near the beach but also stick to your budget during your golden years.

I love the beach and hope to be able to live in a beach town when I retire. I’ve spent countless hours researching different towns to determine what they offer, what the true cost of living is in each one, and whether or not I would be happy there. I’m excited to share my findings with you, and see if you can figure out where you can live that’s full of sand, and sun and still stick to your financial plans.

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What Are the Most Affordable Beach Towns for Retirement?

Retirement, for most of us, is inevitable. At some point, most of us elect to quit working and start thinking about the final chapter of our lives. We’ve made many sacrifices to get here and we are ready to enjoy it!

But, retirement may sound intimidating if someone isn’t financially prepared. The idea of many decades ahead with a limited income stream may feel overwhelming, especially if we have set our sights on retiring somewhere where the cost of living is typically higher, like a beach town.

Most experts advise that we have 7 to 10 times our annual income saved by the time we retire. And though that’s a good rule to follow, some people just simply may not be able to have that, due to other obligations.

So, how can we retire to a cute little beach town while also not running out of money? Guess what…it’s easier than you think.

I’ve put together a list of some fabulous beach towns that people often overlook because they don’t draw the tourist crowds that the popular ones do. (Another perk! Fewer people!) Let’s dive into my list and see if any of these gems speak to you as a place to call home during your retirement years.

1. Hobe Sound, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida

Yes, Florida is the most popular retirement state in the nation. And yes, it would stand to reason that no one can retire here who is trying to do so in an affordable way.

But there are still gems on Florida’s coasts that won’t break your bank. And Hobe Sound is one of them.

Hobe Sound is situated on Florida’s eastern coast and is only an hour and a half drive from Miami. The population in this beach town is less than 15,000, which is pretty remarkable, given its gorgeous sunrises, excellent restaurants, and amazing limestone rock formations that are a spectacular sight.

Sea turtles will share the beach with you and schools of dolphins will pass by during the warmer months.

Though Hobe Sound may not offer as many amenities as large cities, it will also not come with the price tag when you are looking for housing, entertainment, or recreational fun.

And like I said, not only is Miami only one and a half hours away, but you can also get to Orlando in two hours, giving you plenty of options when you need a large airport or a bit of a big city feel.

The average home price in Hobe Sound is less than $300,000…which is pretty spectacular, considering where you are living out your golden years.

2. Dunedin, Florida

Dunedin, Florida
Dunedin, Florida

Sticking with Florida but traversing all the way to the other side of the state is a sweet little town by the name of Dunedin that may perfectly fit the bill for your retirement needs.

Slightly larger than Hobe Sound as far as population, Dunedin boasts a diverse group of around 50,000 people. The town is becoming more attractive to retirees but is also a favorite amongst surfers and people who work forty minutes away in St. Petersburg but don’t want to pay the higher prices of a city that size.

Dunedin sits on the Gulf of Mexico, making it more protected from harsh weather than some of the more popular Florida beaches. It also is adjacent to Honeymoon Island, which is a coveted state park in Florida and attracts visitors and locals alike to look for great-horned owls, ospreys, and eagles, just to name a few of the forms of wildlife that make their home here.

And speaking of homes…a median price of a house in Dunedin will cost you around $235,000, which isn’t including property taxes or HOA feels.

Still, to live in a quaint community like Dunedin while still being close to a thriving city like St. Petersburg is kind of like a retirement dream come true.

3. Hampton, Virginia

Hampton, Virginia
Hampton, Virginia

Cruising away from Florida and up the eastern seaboard, you’ll find a picturesque town that will take you away from the Sunshine State, but still provide plenty of suns (and fun!) of its own.

Hampton, Virginia sits across from Virginia Beach and at the opening of the James River. This gives inhabitants of this town of 100,000 people the chance to spend their free time on the river or in the ocean, depending on which body of water they prefer.

Hampton is an old town, and history prevails everywhere. Though deeply rooted in its beginnings, the town is also home to excellent recreational activities (on and off the water) as well as a great venue for seeing concerts and plays and tons of restaurants that offer all types of menus.

Only an hour's drive from Richmond and two hours from Washington D.C., living in Hampton will allow you access to airports, excellent health care facilities, and a chance to explore some of Virginia’s other treasures. Williamsburg, Virginia – one of the most unique colonial towns in our country – is less than twenty minutes from Hampton.

Expect to pay around $300,000 for a modest home in Hampton. Property taxes are relatively low in Virginia, so that won’t add much to your budget.

4. Middle River, Maryland

Middle River, Maryland
Middle River, Maryland

Farther north than Hampton is another quaint town that is also set close to the Chesapeake Bay. Though the winters may be a bit colder up here than in Florida or even Virginia, the scenery and low cost of living may be well worth it.

Middle River, Maryland is a quick, thirty-minute drive from Baltimore. Though the area only has around 40,000 inhabitants, the proximity to Baltimore means you can have your solitude and access to any amenity you may desire.

This part of the country is still untapped, and the natural beauty abounds along the waterways of this area. From wildlife to nature walks, you will never tire of the beauty of the outdoors if you make Middle River, Maryland your retirement home.

Housing costs are quite reasonable, considering how close the township is to a large, bustling city like Baltimore. The median home price is around $290,000 and though property and income taxes are a bit higher in Maryland than in some areas, the overall cost of living may very well offset that.

5. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Going all the way up the eastern coast of the United States, we come to a seaside town that is a well-kept secret, though its community is growing fast, thanks to its beauty, people, and amazingly low cost of living.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine is a haven for the retiree who wants beach living but isn’t necessarily afraid to shovel a little snow still in the winter months.

Okay…probably more than a little. But, if you want a piece of paradise on a shoestring budget, Old Orchard Beach is a place you must consider for your golden years.

With a population of only around 20,000 people, Old Orchard Beach is ideal for the retiree that covets privacy and solitude. Though the beach can be a bit busier in the summer months, it’s nothing like Florida, or even other beach towns along the east coast, like Cape Cod or Nantucket.

The food in this town is amazing and – if you like seafood – you will find the prices amazing as well. There are art galleries, coffee shops, and street festivals well into the fall, and many activities are free for retirees or at least offered at reduced prices.

It won’t be hard to buy a home for less than $250,000 if you are looking for something relatively modest. And, when you are ready to escape the cold winters, Bangor’s international airport is only an hour away.

6. Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham, Washington

Going to the other side of the United States, there is a town that sits on Washington's pacific coast that must be added to this list.

Bellingham, Washington is a retiree's dream if they are looking for low-cost living, a less crowded and outdoorsy lifestyle, and want to be around people of diverse ages and backgrounds.

Home to Western Washington University, Bellingham is a lovely mix of college students, young professionals, and retirees. Bellingham is also a mecca for arts and entertainment, given the large number of music venues, bars, and coffee shops that line the quaint streets of this town.

Bellingham is a mecca for outdoorsy types, beach lovers, and people who wish to continue their educational pursuits, regardless of their age.

The University offers free courses to people over 65, and the food scene here is outstanding, with new restaurants opening on a regular basis.

The cost of living is much less than what you would expect in a typical college town. The median home price is around $275,000, and – since there is no income tax in Washington state – you’ll find your retirement dollars stretching much farther than they would in many other beach towns.

Another fun part of retiring to Bellingham? When you are in need of a bigger city or a large airport, Seattle is only an hour and forty minutes to your south, and Vancouver, British Columbia is accessible by car in less than two hours.

7. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores, Alabama

For my last affordable beach town for you to consider retiring to, I decided to choose a favorite that is back in the southern part of the United States.

Though Florida has long been the number one destination for retirees, there are a few other states that have beach towns that are starting to gain in popularity, in large part because their cost of living is not as high as the cost of living in Florida.

Gulf Shores, Alabama is one of these spots. Sitting on the north end of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s a southern town that is well-protected and offers tons of recreational sports and a cost of living that is well within a reasonable amount that many retirees can afford, even if a nest egg isn’t large.

And, because Gulf Shores is conveniently located to Florida as well as the large town of Mobile, Alabama, the Gulf Shores will be easy access to airports, healthcare, and other beaches within a short drive.

Though Gulf Shores, Alabama is becoming more popular for retirees, the average home price is still below $325,000 for a nice beach locale. And though the state does have an income tax, it’s low and other expenses, like gas and food prices, tend to be lower than they are in other retirement states.

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