The Best Places to Live Near the Beach in the U.S.

Find out which places offer the most access to the ocean, sand and sunshine.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |Feb. 28, 2019, at 5:10 p.m.

The Best Places to Live Near the Beach in the U.S.

Slideshow

Where to move for sun and sand

Cumulous nimbus cloud as background for a beautiful day at the beach in Florida.

(Getty Images)

Some people select their next hometown based on where their career sends them, while others choose a major city for the cultural attractions. But for those who aren’t big fans of frigid winters or sweltering summers, factoring in the local climate may be the deciding factor – with some narrowing the possibilities even further because they can’t resist the call of ocean. Out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., 20 of them are coastal spots where locals love being able to spend time on the beach. The 20 Best Places to Live Near the Beach in the U.S. are based on the order they appear on the overall Best Places to Live list, which factors in the area's affordability, job market, morning commute and access to quality health care, among other details.

20. San Juan, Puerto Rico

20. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Aerial view of Old San Juan cityscape and beach, Puerto Rico, United States

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 125
Metro Population: 2,230,563
Median Home Price: $197,000*
Median Annual Salary: $29,610

As a major tourism destination, there’s no question that people love visiting Condado Beach or Ocean Park Beach, along with many others near San Juan and throughout the island. Living in Puerto Rico is expensive for locals, however: The cost of living (based on median mortgage payments, rent, property taxes and utility bills) consumes more than 44 percent of the median annual household income.

(*The median home price for San Juan is based on data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for San Juan County.)

19. Brownsville, Texas

19. Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas, on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 121
Metro Population: 418,785
Median Home Value: $94,500*
Median Annual Salary: $34,350

Back on the mainland, Brownsville is located on the southern tip of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. With proximity to South Padre Island, a popular spring break destination, Brownsville draws tourist crowds for at least part of the year. But if a crowded city isn’t your ideal, Brownsville is a much smaller metro area than more well-known parts of Texas such as Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston.

(*The median home price for Brownsville was not available, so median home value is listed.)

18. Salinas, California

18. Salinas, California

Strawberry fields in the Salinas Valley of central California juxtapose with urban residential housing in the adjacent foothills.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 114
Metro Population: 430,201
Median Home Price: $478,521
Median Annual Salary: $47,660

While Salinas doesn’t directly touch the sea, its metro area includes coastal Monterey, known for its picturesque ocean views and diverse marine life, which is highlighted at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Located in central California, the Salinas metro area, and Monterey specifically, experiences lower average temperatures than most would consider ideal for beachgoing, but many of the area’s attractions still center around the coastal views and ocean atmosphere. Sailing and kayaking on the bay are common, and popular biking and hiking paths follow the coastline.

17. Miami

17. Miami

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 110
Metro Population: 5,926,955
Median Home Price: $244,600
Median Annual Salary: $46,160

Beach cities in the U.S. can’t be mentioned without a nod to Miami. The South Florida hot spot is the eighth-most populous metro area in the U.S., and its beaches attract vacationers year-round. Living in Miami comes with a high price, however, as it takes more than 38 percent of the median annual household income to cover living costs. For perspective, the recommended share of income spent on housing is usually 30 percent.

16. Corpus Christi, Texas

16. Corpus Christi, Texas

Paradise palm Trees and golden towers along Corpus Christi , TX Bayfront at sunrise with marina and the water still with a reflecting cityscape painted in golden hour , Marina , boats , and Bay with Gulf of mexico and sea wall . The refineries and in the background and thousands of new Wind Turbines line the background.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 106
Metro Population: 447,102
Median Home Value: $149,900*
Median Annual Salary: $43,810

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi brings plenty of tourists that venture out to Padre and Mustang islands, which create the outer coastline near Corpus Christi. But the metro area isn’t all about tourism, as the largest employer in Corpus Christi is the Naval Air Station, where naval pilot training and other duties take place.

(*The median home price for Corpus Christi was not available, so median home value is listed.)

15. Los Angeles

15. Los Angeles

Travel photography tips

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 101
Metro Population: 18,463,122
Median Home Price: $526,442
Median Annual Salary: $53,379

Los Angeles attracts many people for reasons other than access to the beach, but the proximity to the coast and warm, sunny weather year-round doesn’t count against it. Some parts of Los Angeles do touch the Pacific Ocean, though other parts of the metro area are better known for their relation to the sea – Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and Redondo Beach are just a few. While parts of inner Los Angeles are known for their stifling temperatures in summer, the areas along the beach benefit from the cooler breeze coming off the ocean.

14. Virginia Beach, Virginia

14. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Last minute vacation in Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 99
Metro Population: 1,714,428
Median Home Price: $213,383
Median Annual Salary: $46,470

If seaside life in the mid-Atlantic is more your speed, Virginia Beach may be the right place to move. The area has a healthy tourism industry, with plenty of resorts and public beaches, but many full-time residents are attracted to the area for the ample job opportunities. The metro area is home to the regional headquarters of Dollar Tree and Norfolk Southern, but NASA’s Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base are also located in Hampton Roads.

13. Daytona Beach, Florida

13. Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach skyline aerial view.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 94
Metro Population: 613,723
Median Home Price: $164,069
Median Annual Salary: $38,010

Daytona Beach isn’t just a popular destination for NASCAR fans. It’s also home to many retirees, which contributes to the metro area’s median age of 47.1 years. Daytona Beach is a pricey place to live, however, with residents spending more than 33 percent of the median annual household income on the cost of living.

12. Port St. Lucie, Florida

12. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Aerial drone image of Port St Lucie Florida USA

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 79
Metro Population: 446,728
Median Home Price: $179,058
Median Annual Salary: $41,120

Also on the eastern coast of Florida, Port St. Lucie attracts tourists to its beaches – and many of them appear to be more than happy to stay. This relatively small metro area of just 446,728 people grew by 9.1 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A growing population due to net migration is common in beach cities throughout the U.S.

11. Tampa, Florida

11. Tampa, Florida

Skyline of Downtown Tampa, Florida, US

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 2,927,714
Median Home Price: $183,592
Median Annual Salary: $45,510

The Tampa metro area includes popular vacation destinations in cities along Tampa Bay, namely Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. While the tourism industry is certainly a main source of employment, the University of South Florida, MacDill Air Force Base and Publix Super Markets are also major employers in the metro area.

10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

A royalty free DSLR action photo of dramatic colors as they emblazon the sky at a resort beach during sunrise/sunset. Cast in silhouette are a ferris wheel, hotel condominiums, beachcombers, and a long seaside dock.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 74
Metro Population: 419,585
Median Home Value: $190,400*
Median Annual Salary: $35,650

Near where the South Carolina coast meets North Carolina, Myrtle Beach serves as a popular beach destination with more of a small-town atmosphere, as just 419,585 residents call the metro area home. That small-town vibe may not last long, however. Myrtle Beach grew by 15.62 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone, making it the fastest-growing metro area by population out of the 125 metros on the overall Best Places to Live list.

(*The median home price for Myrtle Beach was not available, so median home value is listed.)

9. Santa Barbara, California

9. Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California is the best place to travel alone

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 68
Metro Population: 439,395
Median Home Price: $464,392
Median Annual Salary: $53,090

You may like the climate of Southern California, but the crowds in Los Angeles may not be for you. Santa Barbara is just a little ways up the coast from LA, offering plenty of seaside options to live or relax without the same crowds. With the Los Padres National Forest located directly north, the Santa Barbara area remains relatively small, making getting around easier if you also work nearby. Many do, as Santa Barbara residents spend an average of 19.2 minutes on their morning commute.

8. Pensacola, Florida

8. Pensacola, Florida

Beautiful colorful morning scene of a marona in Pensacola, Florida with fluffy clouds

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 53
Metro Population: 473,477
Median Home Price: $158,513
Median Annual Salary: $40,220

Located in the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola attracts tourists and new residents alike with its white sand beaches. Like some other coastal metros, Pensacola is home to many military members and defense companies with ties to the Naval Air Station Pensacola. While Pensacola may not draw the same influx of new residents as other parts of Florida, it continues to grow significantly. The Pensacola area grew by 5.16 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration.

7. Jacksonville, Florida

7. Jacksonville, Florida

A gorgeous aerial view of Ponte Vedra Beach in Jacksonville, Florida

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 44
Metro Population: 1,424,097
Median Home Price: $184,508
Median Annual Salary: $45,140

Jacksonville doesn’t just have ocean access. The metro area is also home to the point where the St. Johns River, which runs 310 miles south and is the longest river in Florida, meets the Atlantic, with plenty of smaller rivers and creeks stemming from the larger water source. Jacksonville is also more affordable than many other seaside Florida metro areas, as residents spend 29.25 percent of the median household income on the cost of living.

6. Fort Myers, Florida

6. Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers Beach pier, Florida, USA.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 41
Metro Population: 680,970
Median Home Price: $210,133
Median Annual Salary: $40,420

Fort Myers is located just inland from the coast along the Caloosahatchee River, but after a 40-minute drive you’ll be in the resort town of Fort Myers Beach, located on Estero Island. Within the metro area you’ll also find Cape Coral, a city best known for its canals throughout residential neighborhoods. Fort Myers is second on the list only to Myrtle Beach in the speed at which the population is growing, as the Florida metro area grew by 14.16 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration.

5. Charleston, South Carolina

5. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, at the historic homes on The Battery.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 38
Metro Population: 728,271
Median Home Price: $232,983
Median Annual Salary: $44,500

Charleston is most recognized for its historic cobblestone streets and colorful downtown, but the metro area is also home to islands filled with beach houses and resorts, including Kiawah Island, Folly Island and Sullivan’s Island. The Charleston charm and warm weather leave many feeling like Chucktown would be an ideal place to live – and the data backs that up. Charleston ranks 17th out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for desirability, based on a Google Consumer survey that asked 2,000 U.S. residents where they would prefer to live.

4. Honolulu

4. Honolulu

Tourists Swimming, Sunbathing on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 986,999
Median Home Price: $581,658
Median Annual Salary: $51,080

A mention of Hawaii in just about any conversation will have most people thinking about the beach. Honolulu ranks No. 35 on the overall Best Places to Live list, with high desirability as a place to live and a strong job market as primary factors. The tropical islands are widely regarded as vacation destinations, so it’s no wonder that the tourism industry employs many Honolulu residents, as do the health care and defense industries.

3. Sarasota, Florida

3. Sarasota, Florida

Last minute vacation in Sarasota, Florida United States

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 34
Metro Population: 751,422
Median Home Price: $224,613
Median Annual Salary: $41,870

Ranking third among Best Places to Retire, Sarasota comes in at No. 34 on the overall Best Places to Live list. With a median age of more than 51 years, Sarasota is home to many retirees. Many local homeowners enjoy abundant access to the waterfront with homes that line the Sarasota Bay, while many more can visit the beaches stretching along Siesta Key and Long Boat Key – two narrow islands between the mainland and the Gulf of Mexico.

2. San Diego

2. San Diego

The northern portion of downtown San Diego, California with the airport in the distance shot from a helicopter during a photo flight from an altitude of about 1500 feet.

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Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 30
Metro Population: 3,253,356
Median Home Price: $521,067
Median Annual Salary: $55,480

It’s hard to find someone who lives in San Diego and doesn’t love the beach. That's why companies in a range of industries benefit from this Southern California metro area's proximity to the beach, attracting skilled employees who like the idea of year-round warm weather and plenty of sand. While tourism is a major industry in the area, so are technology, military, health care and research. The median annual salary for the area, at $55,480, is also well above the national average of $49,630.

1. Melbourne, Florida

1. Melbourne, Florida

The Eau Gallie Causeway is a bridge leading from the mainland of Melbourne, Florida to the barrier island and the beaches.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 29
Metro Population: 560,683
Median Home Price: $163,042
Median Annual Salary: $46,520

If you’re seeking the top spot on the Best Places to Live Near the Beach list, look no further than Melbourne. Along with year-round warm weather and ample public beaches, the Melbourne metro area is also home to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. If you’re interested in playing a bigger role than just watching rockets launch into space, plenty of aerospace employers accompany other large companies in the health care and manufacturing fields.

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Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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