Live Beachfront for a Bargain in These 10 Beach Towns

So you can’t afford a beachfront home in Malibu or the Hamptons? That doesn’t mean living with a view of the ocean is off the table. Here are 10 beach towns with affordable real estate on the coast. 

By: Kathleen Rellihan
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Instead of Hilton Head, Try: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Surprise, this popular vacation town does have affordable homes — and right on the beach, too! Far from a sleepy beach town, Myrtle Beach has more than 1700 restaurants, 100 golf courses and 60 miles of beautiful beaches along the Grand Strand. And even better, it has one of the most affordable housing markets on the beach in America, with a median home value in Myrtle Beach around $167,000, according to SmartAsset.com.

For Rent: Grand Strand Beachfront in Myrtle Beach, SC

This Grand Strand beachfront rental includes your own private boardwalk to the beach, oceanfront sun deck, and pool, all for $257 a night. Bonus: This budget-friendly 4-bedroom, 3-bath beach house is just 6 blocks from the arcade and restaurants. 

Instead of Palm Beach, Try: Pensacola, Fla.

A coveted beachfront home in pricey Palm Beach will cost you around $894,000, according to Zillow. For a fraction of the price tag, a home in Pensacola, Florida, comes in at the budget-friendly price of $115, 000. Ranked one of Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Beaches in the US, Pensacola has miles of unspoiled snow-white beaches and a lively downtown full of restaurants, cafes, boutiques and theatres.

For Rent: Emerald Isle Condo on Pensacola Beach

Forgo Florida’s more crowded beaches and vacation in this less tourist-trodden gem on the Northern Panhandle. With breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico, this 2-bedroom beachfront Pensacola vacation rental also has resort-style amenities including two pools and a spa for only $159 a night.

Instead of Key West, Try: Matlacha, Fla.

The Florida Keys are a popular spot for those seeking a causal beach vibe, but the prime beachfront real estate there will cost you. Matlacha, an artsy and laid-back fishing village on the Southwest coast of Florida, offers similar Key-West-style colorful painted houses and pristine white sand beaches, but at a fraction of the cost. While the median home value in Key West runs around $567,700, according to Zillow, you can score a home in Matlacha for around $184,800.

Move In: Colorful Cottage in Matlacha, Fla.

Forget Key West’s expensive real estate. This fully furnished waterfront cottage in Matlacha has the same cozy and casual vibe of the Keys, but is on the market for $316,000, a bargain compared to Key West’s housing market. Fish from the private dock or take a paddleboard or kayak out to explore the miles and miles of waterways in your backyard.

Instead of Waikiki Beach, Try: Waianae, Hawaii

While a vacation on Oahu’s Waikiki Beach can be shockingly expensive for those on a budget, there are beachfront bargains to be found on the island. While Waianae, a beach community northwest of Honolulu, might not be the cheapest beach town with a median home value of $364,600 (according to Zillow) it certainly is one of the most affordable in Hawaii’s increasingly-expensive housing market. And you can find bargains like this 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Waianae, Hawaii.

For Rent: Hawaii Life in Waianae, Hawaii

This brand-new luxury vacation rental sits on Waianae’s Niu Beach, just a ten-minute drive from Waikiki, and includes a Bali-style decor, a private oceanfront lanai, an outdoor hot tub and use of the property’s surfboards and kayaks. The rental sleeps 5 and is listed for an average of $240 per night.

Instead of Miami Beach, Try: Hobe Sound, Fla.

Want the resort-style beach vacation Miami can offer, but one that fits your budget? Hobe Sound, Fla. is a bargain beach town on the Atlantic coast with a median family value of $220,900, according to Zillow. And there’s something for everyone here — unspoiled beaches, nature preserves and championship golf courses. 

For Rent: Unspoiled Beachfront in Hobe Sound, Fla.

Beachfront living comes at an affordable price with this 7-bedroom, 5-bath oceanfront vacation rental on Hobe Sound. Just a few steps to the beach, this vacation home also has a heated swimming pool and is only 15 minutes away from Jupiter’s restaurants. 

Instead of Laguna Beach, Try: Los Osos, Calif.

One of California’s most exclusive neighborhoods, Laguna Beach, has a median home value of a whopping $1,679,200, according to Zillow. While California’s coast is notorious for its in-demand and soaring real estate, Los Osos is ranked the lowest of all California housing markets on the beach, with a median home value of $418,403, according to RealityTrac.

For Rent: A Cottage in California’s Most Affordable Beach Town

California’s central coastal town of Los Osos is mostly a residential community, but also perfect for those looking for a quiet beach getaway. This cozy cottage rental sits on Morro Bay with a waterfront deck and private dock. Perfect for both nature and wine lovers, there are plenty of natural trails nearby in the 90-acre El Moro Elfin Forest and over 200 local wineries in the area. 

Instead of Martha's Vineyard, Try: Block Island, R.I.

Think you could never afford a New England beach home? Sure, real estate on exclusive Martha’s Vineyard isn’t cheap, but Rhode Island’s Block Island is an affordable alternative in sought-after New England. With 17 miles of public beaches, Block Island feels off-the-beaten-beach-track, but is still easy to get to with ferry tickets starting at $13 from Port Judith and Newport.

Move In: New England Bargain on Block Island, R.I.

You can find affordable waterfront property even in the tiniest state in the U.S. For $325,000, you can buy a slice of New England charm with this one-bedroom waterfront condo in the heart of New Harbor on Block Island.

Instead of Malibu, Try: Ventura County (Oxnard Beach), Calif.

One of the country’s expensive coastal communities, Malibu has a rising housing market with a median home value of $2,653,200, according to Zillow. Just north of Los Angeles, between the posh postal codes in Malibu and Santa Barbara, lie the more affordable beach towns in Ventura County, like Oxnard Beach, with its seven miles of family-friendly shorelines. 

For Rent: California Dreamin’ in Ventura County

For just $242 a night, you can rent this 2-bedroom beachfront bungalow that’s just 15 minutes outside of the charming historic town of Ventura, and has beautiful views of Ventura Beach’s 1,620-foot pier. Enjoy outdoor living with a back yard barbecue followed by watching the sunset on the front porch. 

Instead of the Hamptons, Try: Chincoteague Island, Va.

Forget the Hamptons and its pricey summer beach rentals. Escape the crowds and head to Virginia’s serene and unspoiled Chincoteague Island, where you can find quiet beachfront properties at a bargain. Sure you might spot a celeb on the beach at the Hamptons, but here you’ll be able to watch the famous Chincoteague ponies make their annual swim in July.

For Rent: A Natural Paradise on Chincoteague Island, Va.

A waterfront 4-bedroom, 4-bath sprawling summer rental on “Pony Island” could be yours for $352 a night. Hunt for Chesapeake’s famed Blue Crab off your private boat dock, or take a kayak ride on Oyster Bay. 

Instead of Boca Raton, Try Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Ala.

Wish you could afford to retire in Boca Raton? Consider living your golden years in Gulf Shores, Ala., where the median home value is $231,300, according to Zillow. With 32 miles of sugar white-sand beaches than rival any in the Caribbean, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have something for everyone with championship golf courses, wildlife refuges, charter fishing and historic sites. 

For Rent: Beachfront Bargain in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Ala.

Bring the entire family for a budget-friendly vacation on the warm Gulf waters on Orange Beach, Ala. With two sprawling decks looking out onto the endless white-sand beaches and emerald green Gulf waters, you’ll never want to leave this 4-bedroom, 3-bath beach house on Orange Beach, for the bargain rate of $255 a night.