I grew up on an island. The default sound setting on my meditation app is “beach surf.” Being near the ocean seems to be one of those urban features I find favorable — and honestly can’t imagine not having access to. However, what I’ve never imagined is retiring and living in a home near a beach.
You see, Victoria, the picturesque provincial capital of British Columbia, is my hometown. A small, densely packed city, it has always been pricey to own waterfront property (today, it is one of the hottest real estate markets in the world), so moving back home for daily beach walks along the Pacific Ocean remains elusive for me.
However, thanks to a recent GOBankingRates survey that revealed the most affordable places to retire near the beach, I am now resurrecting my beach dream. If you’ve also put aside dreams for a beachy future, its time to take a look at what I now think of as my “beach proximity possibility” list. One of these spots could work for you, too.
A resort city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores has beaches (and a whole lot more) along its beautiful coastline. As for the other coastal inhabitants, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, just to the west of Gulf Shores, is home to sea turtles and migratory birds. It’s not only a great place to retire but one of the best places to get a vacation home.
Home value index: $257,100
Percentage of population 65+: 17.2 percent
Florida includes four affordable beach retirement locations: Pensacola, Daytona Beach, Clearwater and West Palm Beach. If you can’t select where to retire based on price, then make your choice between sunset strolls on the Gulf or morning walks along the Atlantic Ocean.
Home value index: $134,700
Percentage of population 65+: 17.6 percent
Home value index: $139,400
Percentage of population 65+: 18.5 percent
Home value index: $202,800
Percentage of population 65+: 19.8 percent
West Palm Beach
Home value index: $229,100
Percentage of population 65+: 16 percent
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Maine, the northeasternmost U.S. state, is known for its lobster, rocky coastline and the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. It provides three near-the-beach retirement options: Blue Hill, nearby (and pricier), Bar Harbor and, a little further south, Rockport.
Home value index: $181,200
Percentage of population 65+: 20.7 percent
Home value index: $318,200
Percentage of population 65+: 18.1 percent
Home value index: $306,400
Percentage of population 65+: 19.9 percent
If miles of beaches, as well as a boardwalk, is on your wish list for affordable beach access in retirement, then look no further than Ocean City, Maryland. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and Isle of Wight Bay, Ocean City is home to one of the country’s best theme parks, the historic Trimper’s Rides.
Home value index: $261,100
Percentage of population 65+: 29.6 percent
Yes, there are beaches on lakes, and with 10 miles of white quartz sand (recognized as one of the best shorelines in the U.S.), Saugatuck makes the grade. Located near the 30-mile stretch of Michigan’s “Fruit Belt” (orchards, farms and vineyards), the city has farm-to-table dining for foodies looking for a great meal along with their retirement beach view.
Home value index: $328,000
Percentage of population 65+: 21.6 percent
The state of Mississippi offers up two near-the-beach retirement options in close proximity to each other: Gulfport (the second-largest city in the state, known for its long beach on the Mississippi Sound) and Ocean Springs. Settled by French explorers in 1699, Ocean Springs, a city of 17,500 bursting with arts and restaurants, is a beachfront wonder.
Home value index: $99,800
Percentage of population 65+: 11.6 percent
Home value index: $151,200
Percentage of population 65+: 16.5 percent
Another lakefront retirement option: the community of Fair Haven in upstate New York, located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. With breathtaking views (and sunsets), it appears to be New York’s best-kept secret.
Home value index: $120,300
Percentage of population 65+: 22 percent
Located where the mouth of the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Southport is filled with ocean breezes and a whole lot of history.
Home value index: $236,900
Percentage of population 65+: 31.2 percent
If dramatic, walkable beaches and spectacular sunsets on the Pacific Ocean top your retirement dream list, look no further than Bandon, Oregon. The city is also the cranberry capital of Oregon and home to Bandon Dunes, a series of championship golf courses fashioned in the original Scottish style.
Home value index: $263,600
Percentage of population 65+: 30 percent
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Myrtle Beach is known for celebrity-designed golf courses, and is the hub of the Grand Strand — a 60-mile string of beaches — but who knew it was an affordable retirement option, as well?
Home value index: $142,200
Percentage of population 65+: 15.1 percent
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If you’re looking for dolphin sightings instead of longhorn sightings, the lone-star state offers two beachside options: Alvin (south of Houston and overlooking Galveston Island), and a little southwest on Mustang Island, in Port Aransas.
Home value index: $107,300
Percentage of population 65+: 10.5 percent
Home value index: $306,800
Percentage of population 65+: 19.1 percent
Back on the Pacific Ocean, there’s Long Beach, Washington. Beyond what the town’s website proclaims to be the world’s longest beach, the Discovery Trail traces a coastal route taken by explorers Lewis and Clark, and culinary adventures (such as the Wild Mushroom Festival in the fall).
Home value index: $195,700
Percentage of population 65+: 24.6 percent
Of course, I’m not envisioning a retirement that simply involves beach strolls and sunsets. I know myself, and I love what I do, so I’ll still be working. So, I’m leaning towards West Palm Beach. It is in close proximity to an airport with direct flights to major cities (such as my current home base of New York City). Plus, there is a high-speed train to Miami International Airport. Finally, I get enough daily reminders that I’m “getting older,” so being around a younger crowd (percentage of population 65+ in West Palm Beach is just 16 percent) is appealing, too.
What beach is within reach for your retirement?
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