5 Cool Beach Towns Where You Can Buy a House for $200,000 or Less
Perhaps counterintuitively, now may be the time to buy.
If you’re dreaming of sand, surf and umbrella drinks—permanently—you’re in luck: 2020, for all its flaws, may actually be a good year in which to buy a beach house, experts say.
That’s because both mortgage rates and home prices are likely to fall. Mortgage rates—the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has hovered around 3%—are low, and are predicted to stay low through 2021. Home prices will likely fall too, with Zillow predicting a 1% to 2% drop, with prices recovering by spring 2021, says Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s senior principal economist.
“If you buy now, your home equity will continue growing again very soon,” says Olsen. “The risk of taking a big hit to the gut, financially speaking, is pretty low.”
Yes, you can retire in a spot with good weather, culture and more—even if you are on a budget.
Even better news? You don’t have to shell out millions of dollars for access to the ocean. There are at least 31 beach towns in the United States where the median price of a home is less than $200,000, says Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.
When searching for homes that will be worth the investment, there are several factors to consider, including jobs and health care. You also must weigh the risk of inclement weather such as hurricanes and floods, which results in much higher homeowner’s insurance—sometimes double or triple the rates you pay for houses not near a body of water. And finally, if you’re purchasing a beach home as an investment property, be aware that you might not be able to get rental income for many months to come. “In this environment, we’re not vacationing, we’re not traveling,” Olsen says. “You have to be secure without rental income for a while.”
With all of that in mind, below, Millie highlights five places where you can buy a beach house for under $200,000 in 2020.
For the buyer looking to be close to major cities: Atlantic City, NJ
Experts say that Atlantic City, which is just 130 miles south of New York City, is poised for a comeback. The area boasts plenty to do—and opportunities for employment (at least in non-pandemic times) at spots like casinos, restaurants and stores on an increasingly bustling boardwalk. Located in the center of the famous Jersey Shore, the town of 36,740 has 372 active listings with an average price of $134,050, according to data provided by Realtor.com.
For the buyer looking for a less crowded beach: Deerfield Beach, FL
Just south of Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach is within the Miami metropolitan area, but its small population of 81,000 and more-famous neighbors mean it often gets overlooked by tourists. That’s a good thing for buyers who want Florida’s renowned beaches without the crowds. What’s more, Deerfield Beach has a diverse community with the highest population of Brazilian and Brazilian American residents of any place in the United States and many Haitian Americans (12.1%) as well. According to Realtor.com, there are currently 507 active listings with an average price of $190,050.
For the buyer who wants a small-town feel: Gulfport, MS
Although it’s a small city of close to 80,000 residents, locals praise the kindness and diversity of their neighbors of Gulfport, which is located on the Gulf of Mexico just 78 miles east of New Orleans. In addition to white sand beaches, Gulfport has employment options at spots like casinos, local shipyards and hospitals. Gulfport is also famous for events including the “World’s Largest Fishing Rodeo” and “Smokin’ the Sound,” a speedboat race. According to Realtor.com, there are currently 425 homes on the market, for an average price of $191,700.
For the nature lover: Aberdeen, WA
If natural beauty is your thing, consider Aberdeen, WA. Located at the eastern end of Grays Harbor on the Pacific coastline, Aberdeen is just 50 miles from Olympic National Park, which boasts both temperate rainforests and mountains topped by glaciers. The town is also just 109 miles west of Seattle, and has a climate similar to the Mediterranean. According to Realtor.com, Aberdeen, which has a population of 23,776 people, has 50 properties on the market for an average price of $186,050.
For the history buff: Portsmouth, VA
Located just 20 miles west of gorgeous Virginia Beach, Portsmouth has almost as many historically significant buildings as Alexandria, VA, and Charleston, SC. Nestled in a bay at the mouth of the Elizabeth River, the town has a population of 94,367 people. According to Realtor.com, there are currently 40 properties on the market for an average price of $180,050.