5 Best Beach Towns in the U.S. for Retirees

Retirees looking to enjoy a relaxing lifestyle continue to seek out beach towns for their retirement. Whether it's swimming, sunbathing, fishing, or golfing, beach towns provide it all.

In fact, over the last few years, there has been a major increase in the number of retirees moving to beach towns. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, the top four states that saw the largest influx of Americans from other states in 2022 all offer coastline views. Florida came in at the top spot, with the Carolinas and Texas making the cut as well. But how do you know which of these hot spots is the coolest place to spend your golden years? 

Today, we're going to look at the best beach towns for retirees to consider - those that offer the warmth and relaxation of the beach lifestyle, without the pricey strings attached.

What makes these 5 the best of the best?

Beach towns may be popular, but there are numerous factors that should influence a retiree's decision before moving.

Of course, location is everything - and that's why it's not always cheap to live by the beach. That's where cost of living can be a useful tool. The featured beach towns on this list made the cut because they generally offer a more affordable - or at least competitive - cost of living relative to the U.S. average.

Real estate is certainly another factor to consider when choosing the best beach town. Many seaside locations charge a premium to live there, and that's reflected in a few of these picks - but you'll also see that there are still some real estate beach bargains to be found for retirees.

Other factors taken into consideration to create this list include the crime rate and access to quality healthcare. Retirees will certainly want a safe environment to live in, with healthcare options that suit their needs. 

Without further ado, these are the five best options for Americans looking to retire in a beach town right now.

The 5 best beach towns for retirees right now

5. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head is a beautiful island off the South Carolina coast that includes beaches, golf courses, and an all-around relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living is about 8% higher than what the average American pays, according to Pay Scale.

However, real estate is on the pricier side. The median sale price of a Hilton Head home is currently at $759,000, according to Redfin (RDFN), compared to the U.S. median of $416,100. While retirees can certainly look for more affordable options, such as a smaller home or further from the beach, the square footage is still relatively steep.

But that cost may be worth it, considering that the island holds just 40,000 people, and offers a crime rate that's 33% below the national average for U.S. cities, according to Numbeo. With numerous healthcare facilities, hospitals and clinics, there is access to quality healthcare as well, making Hilton Head Island an excellent option for retirees looking to live out their days on the beach.

4. Gulfport, Mississippi

Located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Gulfport is another excellent option for those wanting a beach location for a great price. The town hosts access to not just the nearby beaches, but casinos, museums, parks, and restaurants as well. Retirees can enjoy a cost of living that is 16% lower than the national average, according to Pay Scale. Further, the median home sale price is just $205,000 as of this writing, according to Redfin. 

The town of 72,000 people does have a crime rate that's about 10% lower than the rest of the country, according to Numbeo, making it quite safe for retirees as well. What's more, there is plenty of access to local medical centers, as well as the University of Southern Mississippi, which hosts its own healthcare-related programs.

3. Port Arthur, Texas

Texas is another state located along the water's edge, and the town of Port Arthur - right on the Gulf Coast - is certainly a strong destination for retirees to consider. It's a small town as well, similar to Gulfport, so this could be a great option for those wanting to escape the city lifestyle. The downfall here is that without access to major urban centers, it could be more difficult should retirees need to transition into retirement living facilities down the line.

Even so, Port Arthur boasts many financial advantages for retirees. The town of 55,000 people has a cost of living that's 10% lower than the national average. Housing is incredibly inexpensive as well, with Redfin stating the median home price is just $140,000! Crime is also lower in this small town, at 10% below the national average. Plus, Port Arthur is close to a number of healthcare providers, such as St. Mary's Hospital and the nearby Lamar University.

2. Sarasota, Florida

Of course, it wouldn't be a list of the best beach towns if there wasn't an entry from Florida. The Sunshine State is known for its white-sand beaches, and Sarasota - located on the Gulf Coast - is no exception. That said, retirees may have to pay a premium to live in such a prime location on the beach.

The cost of living in Sarasota is 6% higher than the national average, according to Pay Scale, and the median home sale price for Sarasota real estate is currently $490,000. While it's north of the national median, that's down about 8% year-over-year, for retirees currently considering a move.

It's also a smaller location, with just 50,000 people, and a crime rate that's 33% lower than the national average. With a vibrant community of retirees, Sarasota also offers amenities that focus on a retirement lifestyle, and healthcare of all sorts is readily available. So, this is certainly one of the best beach towns for retirees to consider.

1. Charleston, South Carolina

Rounding out the list, we're back to South Carolina. Charleston comes in at the number one spot due to its ideal location near the Atlantic Ocean, historic charm, and beautiful beaches - yet for retirees, this town offers a great place to live for a reasonable price.

The cost of living in Charleston is about 2% lower than the rest of the U.S., according to Pay Scale, and the median home sale price is only slightly higher than Sarasota at $550,000. It's the largest of the towns on this list at 150,000 people, yet crime is still 7% lower than the national average.

The coastal city also offers a variety of healthcare options, with many retirement communities offering on-site healthcare, as well. This makes it incredibly easy for retirees to access quality care options.

Furthermore, the city has plenty more leisure time options for retirees to explore than just the beach. Charleston holds a rich history dating back to the 17th century, with the Old City market, the Battery, and the French Quarter offering incredible options to explore.

Overall, Charleston has the prime location, fair cost of living, safety, and amenities that place it at the top of the list for retirees looking to spend their days beachside.

On the date of publication, Amy Legate-Wolfe did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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