America’s Fastest Growing Beachfront Retirement Towns
Ocean City, New Jersey
We called it in 2018: This Jersey Shore resort town is not only America’s Happiest, it’s also a veritable dream for retirees. Packed with charming bungalows and old-fashioned beachfront fun (think Skee-ball and saltwater taffy), Ocean City is a classic summer escape suitable for everyone in the family. (Translation: Bring on the grandkids!) While the historic district’s handsome Victorians are always alluring, high-rise condos are more plentiful and available in a wide range of price points—some for as little as $200k, according to Realtor.com.
Traverse City, Michigan
Any Boomer who grew up in the Midwest likely experienced a summer escape in Traverse City. The small town along Grand Traverse Bay (an offshoot of Lake Michigan) is an outdoor lover’s paradise, famed for its 180-mile beachfront, seductive fall foliage, and world-class annual festivals, including the Cherry Festival held every July and the Traverse City Film Festival, founded by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. But there’s more to love about Traverse City than its natural beauty—namely, the affordability for retirees looking to snag a single-family home. Here, median list prices come in at $319k, but quaint, woodsy cottages can be found in the low- to mid-$200ks.
Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
As far as summer vacations go, Cape Cod is about as All-American a destination as any. It’s home to the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, miles of pristine white-sand beaches, and the one-time Summer White House of President John F. Kennedy. But it’s also becoming home to a growing number of retirees, many of whom spent their working years vacationing here and are now cashing in on their sprawling suburban homes in favor of a sweet little cottage by the sea. In Barnstable Town, where 40 percent of all homes are secondary residences and nearly 40 percent of the population is aged 60 or over, median list prices come in at a hefty $525k. But if you can swing the real estate investment, beachside living on the Cape is pure bliss.
Morehead City, North Carolina
Separated from the tourism traffic of the Outer Banks, this laid-back city on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast offers all of the attractions you’d expect from a waterside town—with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Fishing in Morehead City is a way of life (the town celebrates its bounty annually at the North Carolina Seafood Festival). And at any given time of year, you’ll find a variety of fresh catch being hauled onto the local docks and into the menus of locally owned eateries. But stomach-grumbling grub aside, retirees call Morehead City a catch for its affordability; according to Realtor.com, condos directly on the beach with amenities like swimming pools and fitness centers can be found for around $200k. Score.
Cape Coral, Florida
Less than an hour to the south, tony Naples often gets a lot of the attention among retirees for its high rankings in happiness and well-being. But don’t underestimate its more affordable and still-breathtaking neighbor, Cape Coral. Home to some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches and golf courses, this quiet town on the Southwest Coast is a favorite among the 60-and-up set for its easy access to healthcare and recreational activities, including a 400-mile canal system that makes boating a dream. Another bonus? With interest rates low and home prices dropping (they’re down 3.5 percent year over year for a median list price of $299k), says Realtor.com), now is great time to buy.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Haven’t heard of Punta Gorda? That’s why residents like it here. A small town just a stone’s throw from Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Punta Gorda is a magnet for retirees looking for a laid-back lifestyle. (Seriously, nearly half the population is aged 60 or older.) With several state parks and nature preserves nearby, the town offers miles of beautiful trails and sightseeing opportunities; however, those looking for some socialization can hit one of the local waterfront pubs and restaurants. (Don’t expect to find anything too commercial here, says one realtor.) What you can expect is to find homes at a variety of price points, with a median value coming in at around $275k.