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The best affordable beach towns in America


Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

Time to pack a towel, put on some sunscreen, grab an e-book and head to the beach.

What if heading to the beach just meant walking out your front door?

Actually, living at the beach may be more affordable than you think. RealtyTrac has come up with the best beach communities in America based on the following factors:

  • Home values (the lower the better!)
  • Weather
  • Air quality
  • Crime rates


It turns out that more than half the states in this country have beaches...30! But in RealtyTrac's list, all the best communities are only in three: California, Hawaii and Florida.


It may have 800 miles of coastline, but the Golden State snagged only five of the top 20 beach communities on RealtyTrac's list. You won't find Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Diego or Newport Beach here. It just costs too much to live in those places. Instead, the best pick ranks no higher than #6 on the list and is a surprising choice: Los Osos.

This community along the Central Coast is off the beaten path, just south of Morro Bay (also on the list at #11). That's a good thing. There's no crime in Los Osos, Spanish for "the bears," and the air is always clean—can't always say that about Malibu! However, the average daily temperature is a cool 60 degrees, and only three out of four days are sunny. Maybe that's why the median estimated home value is "only" $418,000, "the lowest among all California beach towns."

Other California beach communities on RealtyTrac's list include Dana Point (#16), Seal Beach (#17) and San Clemente (#19). These towns are all in Orange County, where homes cost significantly more. Median prices range from $760,000 to $852,000.


I know. Shocker. Hawaii has great beach communities. More than half the towns listed on RealtyTrac's report are in the Aloha State. Ranking highest, however, is another surprise: Waianae, northwest of Honolulu on the island of Oahu. It came in at #3 with perfect air quality, perfect average daily temperature of 76 degrees, 74 percent sunny days and a crime rate that gets a "B."

Why is Waianae ranked so high instead of some better-known beach community? Median home prices here are a relative pittance at $309,000. Look, you're not going to get a fancy palace for that price, but it's Hawaii. Give me a shack and a hammock and I'm set.

Other Hawaiian beach communities making the list include six more on Oahu, including Honolulu itself with a median home price of $568,000, as well as four towns on Maui, including Lahaina, where the median price is $544,000.


The Sunshine State leads the RealtyTrac list and brings up the rear. At the top, it holds first and second place. Ranking #1 is Hobe Sound, a small community of 15,000 about a half hour north of Palm Beach (which did not make the list).

Even though Hobe Sound has about the fewest sunny days of any town on the list at 64 percent, it has near perfect air quality, average daily temperatures of 76 degrees, and it was the only town with an A+ crime grade. Plus, the median home price is a relatively miniscule $191,000.  

Coming in at #2 is Naples, where after the housing collapse you could get a pretty good deal on a second home if you had the cash. Median home prices here are $294,000. In last place on the list at #20 is Key Biscayne, mostly because it has the most expensive homes. The median price to live on the island off Miami is $922,000.

Which is still cheaper than buying in Malibu.

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