Setting: New Smyrna Beach sits between the protected dunes of Canaveral National Seashore and the Ponce de Leon Inlet, against both the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. It's about an hour's drive to Orlando, 40 minutes to Cape Canaveral, and 20 minutes to the Daytona Speedway.
Attractions: The town offers an abundance of recreational activities, including golf, surfing, and fishing. New Smyrna Beach also boasts an interesting colonial history, a lively arts community, and great antiques shops.
Drawbacks: Limited job market. Homes go quickly, and prices are rising. Dining options are few, but Norwood's Restaurant and Wine Shop offers fine food at good prices.
Housing Options: Historic 100-year-old houses on the mainland, either renovated or waiting to be. On the beach side, concrete-block single-family houses are a short walk to the water; luxury condos and multistory residences face the ocean.
What It Costs: Two- and three-bedroom homes away from the water go for $165,000 to $225,000. The same house facing the Atlantic can sell for as much as $2 million. A teardown house can cost $750,000 just because of its location. Two- and three-bedroom condos run from $165,000 to $250,000 off the water, to $2 million for a 4,000-square-foot oceanfront penthouse. The northern, riverfront side of the beach has some spectacular multilevel homes in the $1 million range. Mainland properties run about half that on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Your Next-door Neighbors: More than 400 artists, including photographer Jack Mitchell; orthodontists, dentists, and doctors; professionals who commute to work in Orlando; along with NASA engineers and project managers.
How You'd Spend Free Time: Golfing, surfing, sportfishing, shelling, antiquing on Canal Street. Ecotours and birding are big: At Bird Island, says guide Bruce Jaildagian, "the Audubon Society once counted 2,500 birds, of 11 species, leaving their nighttime roosts in the first 10 minutes after dawn." The Atlantic Center for the Arts, an internationally renowned artists' residency program, sits amid the palmettos and pines on the outskirts of town.