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.
Where to move for sun and sand
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.