The 5 Most Expensive Coastal Retirement Towns—And 3 That Are Super Affordable
Most Expensive: San Luis Obispo, California
Median home list price: $729,600
Share of residents aged 60 and up: 26.2 percent
Between Northern California's techy buzz and Southern California's laid-back vibes lies San Luis Obispo, a lovely village of less than 50,000 people that's known as an oasis from much of the rest of the state's harried pace. Established as a Spanish mission in the 1700s, this Central California city is rapidly growing thanks to retiring boomers who are looking to put down new roots and don't mind splurging on the hot market. Downtown SLO, as the locals call it, is as exciting as the seaside spots, and nearby mountains are perfect for hiking, picnicking, and leisurely exploring. Thanks to year-round idyllic temperatures, the Mission Plaza hosts many community gatherings, and a senior citizen center organizes events from golf to pickleball.
Most Expensive: Town of Barnstable, Massachusetts
Median home list price: $542,100
Share of residents aged 60 and up: 38.9 percent
Cape Cod's charm is alluring to relaxation seekers of all ages, but it's especially good at charming retirees, it seems. Barnstable, which is actually a town of seven small villages, is home to just under 45,000 people, more than a third of which are over age 60. With abundant shopping in nearby Hyannis, its largest village, and a plethora of popular local sites, including the John F. Kennedy Museum (Hyannis) and the Isaiah Thomas Books & Prints (Cotuit), which houses more than 70,000 rare, second-hand, and out-of-print books in a candy pink house, Barnstable brims with opportunity for retirees looking for downtime and even those eager to stay active.
Most Expensive: Naples, Florida
Median home list price: $458,600
Share of residents aged 60 and up: 38.3 percent
In southwest Florida, a scant 25 miles from the Everglades, sits one of Florida's swankiest zip codes, Naples. Known for its high-end shopping and even higher-end real estate, Naples' appearance on the list of most expensive retirement towns is of little surprise to people exploring their sunshine years' real estate options. Thanks to a tremendous health care system, ranked among the best in the country, Naples has one of America's highest median life spans at 83.4 years. With its white-sand beaches and Old Florida retro vibes, this sunny seaside stop has also been named the happiest and healthiest place in America.
Most Expensive: Hilton Head, South Carolina
South Carolina's Lowcountry is home to some of nature's most pristine vistas. Hilton Head certainly finds itself in that camp. Folly Field Beach Park and Coligny Beach are popular spots among locals looking to steer clear of bustling tourist hotspots, and several beaches along the city's sandy stretch are rife with loggerhead turtles returning to lay their eggs. In short, it's a thrilling place to live if time is on your side and you have days to while away by the water. Single family homes can run into the millions if you're eager for a coastal view, but condos and town homes fall well below that and often come with amenities suited for older buyers. Plus, the coastal Carolina town offers exclusive neighborhoods for older adults who are eager to stay active with all of the local attractions, from fishing and swimming to hikes and tennis.
Most Expensive: Ocean City, New Jersey
Median Home Price: $512,500
Ranked our 2018 Happiest Seaside Town, Ocean City, New Jersey is a quintessential beach town. With its amusement parks, boutique-dotted downtown, beautiful boardwalk, and numerous parades and festivals, Ocean City provides its residents with a plethora of engaging activities, no matter the time of year. Newer developments and adult communities cater to active retirees who aren't looking to spend their golden years in a recliner. Plus, some of the best hospitals in New Jersey are a brief drive away. Individual family homes can carry a hefty price tag, but condos and townhomes are more reasonable and often come with desirable amenities.
Most Affordable: New Bern, North Carolina
Median home list price: $209,800
Share of residents aged 60 and up: 26.8 percent
New Bern, home to just 30,000 people, sits along the Trent and Neuse Rivers, which empty into North Carolina's West Bay and Pamlico Sound. You're only a brief ride to iconic Cape Lookout and the Outer Banks, perfect for a day trip to the shore. But don't let New Bern's Inner Banks beauty outshine its small-town charm and robust roster of local activities. The town, which is also home to best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks, shoulders numerous history-rich sites, like Tryon Palace, home to Briitish governors of North Carolina in the 18th century, and Croatan National Forest, the only coastal forest in the Eastern U.S.
Most Affordable: Homosassa Springs, Florida
Median home list price: $221,500
Share of residents aged 60 and up: 43.4 percent
Not all Florida retirement towns are made the same, and Homosassa Springs rises above with its whimsical, small-town vibe. Once home to sugar plantations and orange groves, Homosassa Springs now houses wildlife parks, pristine natural springs, and lush marshes, swamps, and preserves, along with quaint shops and bustling restaurants. According to realtor.com, a brand-new four-bedroom home with 2,200-square feet is only $228,000. The Villages, a nearby mega-retirement community, has homes in the same price range (and higher), but you don't have the seaside amenities and views.
Most Affordable: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a classic South Carolina vacation destination, but it's also a wonderful town in which to plant roots for a long-term stay. Right off Myrtle Beach's boardwalk, you'll find some of the Atlantic's most beautiful beaches along the city's 10 miles of sandy shores. For outdoor adventurists, the protected waterways of Waccamaw River and Cherry Grove Inlet serve as launching points for kayak and paddleboard tours, as well as boat excursions. In the middle of town sits Myrtle Beach State Park and the iconic Myrtle Beach State Park Pier, a great place for fishing, strolling, and people-watching. Like other coastal communities, Myrtle Beach offers plenty of single-family homes and less-expensive condos and townhomes; communities built for retirees are also growing.