11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Note: We wrote Part 2 of this article in April, 2014. See “Part 2: 10 Affordable Places to Retire on the Coast
June 15, 2010 — What’s not to like about retiring to a place on or near the water – except maybe the price that usually comes with that lifestyle. Until the polar icecaps melt some more, no one is making any more ocean front property, which means that as a rule only wealthy people can afford to pay for the privilege of watching the sun come up and down over the water from their front porches. Fortunately for the careful shopper though, there are different kinds of waterfront, so there actually are some affordable waterfront properties.
fort_lauderdale_bay_fort
The first place we started when researching this article was our own Retirement Ranger. When we took our free, 10 question quiz we tried to keep it simple – we specified only 2 environmental selections – “coastal” and “lakefront”. The only other choice was “lower than average” cost of living. The Ranger came back with 50 choices, from which we chose 11 (although quite a few more towns were reasonable choices).


The results from the Retirement Ranger highlight where the bargains are. For one, lakes with big coastlines offer some relative bargains. Likewise, towns near rivers and bays can offer waterfront living with spectacular views without spending megadollars. Finally, if you choose a place on the ocean that is far from a big city or in the right region, you might be able to snag a relative bargain. We offer this list of 11 affordable waterfront places to retire, but urge you to use the Retirement Ranger and search on this and other sites for more ideas. Please note that most of these choices are located on a large body of water, but a few towns are close, but not actually on the water. Also, see end of article for a discussion of some of the drawbacks of living near the water.

Boynton Beach FL – Boynton Beach has always been the step-child to its more prosperous neighbors like Delray Beach and Palm Beach. It’s the same ocean, just a few miles north or south. Boynton Beach, like most of south Florida, has had a real estate meltdown. Right now, prices are reasonable. The median home price in 2006 was over $350,000 – in the first quarter of 2010 it was $150,000 (houses/condos close to the water will be more). There are many communities not far from or even on the beach that the careful shopper can choose from.

Leesburg, FL – This waterfront town in central Florida boasts 6 public beaches on 3 lakes, plus a yacht club. The centerpiece of the town is a former WPA project, the Venetian Gardens Waterside Park on Lake Harris. There is a community college plus a number of active adult communities to choose from.

Myrtle Beach, SC – Myrtle Beach is a bargain. It offers low-cost housing, 120 golf courses, and of course – the Grand Strand, a great sandy beach that runs uninterrupted for almost 60 miles – from Pawley’s Island in the south to North Myrtle Beach.

Port Charlotte, FL – An amazing 40% of the homes in Port Charlotte have water access, thanks to a maze of canals and estuaries, complete with hundreds of species of marine life. There are dozens of active adult and 55+ developments /neighborhoods to choose from.

Lake Eufaula, OK – This area in east central Oklahoma is a popular resort and a low-key, relaxing retirement spot. Lake Eufaula has approximately 143,000 acres of water and over 600 miles of shoreline. Average home prices according to one source were about $80,000 in early 2010, although other sources reported them to be a bit higher.

Paris, TN – Paris is situated between 2 giant lakes, one of them being among the largest man-made lakes in the world. Paris is a small town of about 10,000 in northwest Tennessee, 15 miles from the vast and popular Land Between the Lakes recreation area. Homes often sell below $100,000.

Murphy, NC – The downtown is beautiful with tree lined streets and many historic buildings restored to their original state. The climate is mild and the scenery is breathtaking with mountains, lakes (several large ones like Lake Hiwassee), and streams. Find homes in the low to mid $100’s.

St. Petersburg, FL – St. Pete offers a happy compromise in a very livable city,with many desirable neighborhoods and plenty of culture and recreation. Since St. Pete is on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, almost everything is near the water. Prices in the low $100’s.

Blue Ridge, GA – Blue Ridge is on the border near Tennessee and North Carolina, and has about 1200 residents. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Georgia. Lake Blue Ridge, the Toccoa River, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail all draw tourists.

Port Isabel, TX – Port Isabel is a beach town and a popular resort, as well as being a retirement destination. Fishing, beach going, and relaxing are popular activities. The area is quiet and the weather is warm in the winter.

Hayesville, NC – Lake Chatuge near Hayesville has over 130 miles of shoreline, much of which can never be developed. The artists’ community in Hayesville is diverse and growing, which gives the town another dimension.

Drawbacks of Living Near the Water
There are always 2 sides to any story. And living near the waterfront is not a total picnic. Consider these drawbacks:
– High insurance costs. Particularly in Florida, hurricane and flood insurance can be very costly and hard to get.
– Natural disasters. Related to above, it is no fun to be evacuated or have your home destroyed. As one of our commenters noted below, hurricanes are a very real threat to just about anywhere on the coast. Some towns have been hit over and over again.
– Man made disasters. The oil spill in the Gulf points out the type of disaster that might await many Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi owners of property on the waterfront. Indeed, some newspaper reports cite that a new wave of foreclosures could come to the Gulf Coast in the wake of the oil spill.
– Taxes. Waterfront properties tend to be worth a lot and appraised accordingly for taxes, so your property taxes will be higher than comparable homes inland.

What do you think?
Give us your suggestions for affordable places to retire on the water. Or throw cold water on ours, for that matter. Use the Comments section below – we would love to hear from you.

See Also:
For further reference:
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 1
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 2
10 Affordable and More Best Places to Retire – Part 2
20 Great and Affordable Towns to Retire
8 More Affordable Places to Retire
Most Tax-Friendly Places to Retire
AffordableRetirements.com



Posted by John Brady on June 14th, 2010

60 Comments »

  1. You missed the boat on this one. Part of the Cost of Living includes insirance and nearly all of the waterfornt locations you selected are in hurricane pronae areas, thus high insurance. Also, you forgot about humidity. While the locations you selected might be nice in the winter time, they are nearly unbearable in the summer and also have high electric costs for air conditioning. You completely missed the western half of the country. The west has many waterfron locations that are very affordable and yet are low humidity in the summer. The west tends to cool off at night and thus has a much lower AC requirement.

    by LaMarTEK — June 15, 2010

  2. When running through your list, other than the coastal locations, snakes kept creeping into my mind’s eye. Don’t think that would work – never relax.

    by V. Bittler — June 16, 2010

  3. Where do I go to see the entire affordable list of 50 waterfront locations?? – – thanks for the good information that you provide – – lots to think about – jim

    by Jim Utter — June 18, 2010

  4. Hi Jim,

    Good question. You can generate the list by taking our free Retirement Ranger http://www.topretirements.com/retirementranger/
    When you take it, choose “No preference” for all questions where this is an option – except the question for “Environment” (select “lake” and “coastal”) and the question for “Cost of Living” (select “Lower than Average”). When you get the email you will see the results, or just click on the “Recent Results” link at top left, after you take. You can then retake with more selective criteria to narrow it down. Good luck!

    by Admin — June 18, 2010

  5. Boynton Beach is such a great place to live. You are correct in saying that Boynton is the step-child of Palm Beach but in my opinion it’s one of the greatest places to live. If you can find great water front property (because now is the time) and you have the money to invest go for it. There are some killer deals out there.

    by Andy — June 23, 2010

  6. […] 8. Near the beach or a lake. We see from our Retirement Ranger questions that having access to a beach is very important to many people. For them being close could mean a 3-hour drive – that is still accessible. Living on the coast or a lake is a retirement dream for many, and we can see why. See this article: 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Water […]

    by 11 Good Reasons for Choosing a Retirement Town | Topretirements — July 6, 2010

  7. […] Also: 11 Affordable Towns on the Waterfront How to Retire in Style and on a Budget Posted by John Brady on July 27th, 2010 Comments (0) […]

    by how to find affordable retirement | Topretirements — July 27, 2010

  8. I live in the Seattle area and am moving to Oregon at retirement… There are some lovely areas near both rivers and ocean there but no west coast towns are mentioned! Why is that?

    by sally — July 28, 2010

  9. What about great water views? Being on the water has all the drawbacks mentioned above, but living back from the waterfront – yet with a view – eliminates at least some of them, and the housing will be somewhat less as well. So how about a list of affordable water views —- that includes the west?

    Thanks for all the great articles.

    by Sunny — September 30, 2010

  10. […] further reference: Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Most Affordable Places to Retire (2010) How to Find an Affordable Place to Retire Most Affordable […]

    by » 10 Very Affordable… and Great Places to Retire Topretirements — September 13, 2011

  11. Are there other regions which also offer affordability in retirement near the water? I don’t relish living with the humidity, insects, and hurricanes that are prevalent in the “southern” areas of our country. Can affordable retirment on the water be found anywhere on the west coast? (And I don’t mean Alaska)

    Thanks,
    V.J. Kernick

    by V.J. Kernick — September 17, 2011

  12. […] FL as a Favorite Place to Retire – Best States to Die In – Top 10 International Places to Retire – 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Water – Best of the Best Places to Retire – 10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy in An Active Community – […]

    by » Best Retirement Stories of the Year Topretirements — October 10, 2011

  13. What about Cape Cod Massachusetts?

    by Bill — June 11, 2012

  14. 1question and 1comment:
    To Sally- could you share your favorite location(s) in Oregon? I’d like to consider the area as well.
    To Bill: the Cape is a wonderful place to retire and although MA was on the “worst state list” I think there are as many different towns as there are personalities looking to move there.
    Summer traffic is. Nightmare, and places like Hyannis are very built up… I hear a train will run from Boston to the Cape this summer…

    by Deborah Lehan — May 26, 2013

  15. What about San Diego county, there are many small very desirable cities in that area?

    by JEAN — July 28, 2013

  16. Any thoughts about Saratoga Springs, N. Y., or anywhere in Saratoga county? I was originally considering Cape May and Atlantic counties in N. J., but the recent bad storms have me re-thinking that. Also, those areas often experience power outages.

    by Linda — July 29, 2013

  17. I’d think twice about some of the areas north of Tampa. Sink holes are common which has a lot to do with the cheap real estate. Florida is not the bargain that it once was. I loved living there but, the cost of living has escalated as the real estate market is bouncing back. If you want a low cost of living, I’d have to suggest Tn. I’ve lived in both places, and while I prefer Fl., it’s just too expensive in most of the state.

    by Chuck — July 29, 2013

  18. Bill, Cape Cod has many retirees. I’ve lived here for 14 years and during those years, we’ve only had 3 major snowstorms although last winter was a doozy. The summers are cooler than the greater Boston area while the winters are milder. The winter of 2011 had no snow. The real estate prices are still moderate. The senior centers are quite active and the beautiful beaches are never more than a 15 minute drive no matter where you live on the Cape. We love the Cape.

    by Lana — July 29, 2013

  19. To Bill
    Can you giv e the name of places on the cape that are 50+ communities. The Cape is my favorite place on earth. I’ve always heard it is very expensive to live there. Any info would be appreciated.

    by jeb — July 29, 2013

  20. I am familiar with San Diego, I am in Calif a lot. It is very expensive to live there. San Diego is struggling for money, the real estate taxes are high, lots of traffic, and the summer if very very crowed, but the weather is one of the best ever. Great place to visit and vacation. Just keep in mind you need a good amount of money to live there comfortably!!

    by Loralee — July 29, 2013

  21. Struggling with where we want to retire. One thing for sure is to get out of Louisiana. The food is great, but need to escape Hurricanes.!!! We have son who lives in Rio Rancho, NM and would like to live close to him, plus we like the mountains and the low humidity. We have looked at Santa Fe, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; and Sedona, AZ and a few places in Colorado and Utah. If anyone has lived or is living in these areas and would like to comment on how things are, it would be greatly appreciated.

    by Gary D — July 30, 2013

  22. […] Coast series, we’ve provided 10 coastal towns that are reasonably affordable. Part 1, “Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront“, came out in 2010 (it included some towns where the waterfront was on a lake, this one does […]

    by » Affordable Places to Retire on the Coast – Part 2 Topretirements — April 15, 2014

  23. […] further reading These College Towns Make for a Great Retirement Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront (part 1) 7 Great Places to Retire for Livability 5 Big Reasons Why Small Towns Are Great Places to […]

    by » 10 Great Places in the Mountains for Retirement Topretirements — May 22, 2014

  24. […] further reference: 8 More Affordable Places to Live 10 Very Affordable Places to Retire 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Affordable College Towns in the […]

    by » 20 Great Affordable Towns for Retirement Topretirements — June 13, 2014

  25. […] to Retire on a Lake (2011) Great Mountain Towns for Retirement Great College Towns for Retirement Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront 5 Big Reasons Why Small Towns Are Great Places to Retire 10 Great Walkable Towns for […]

    by » At The Lake – Where the (Retirement) Living is Easy Topretirements — July 23, 2014

  26. […] Further Reading The Affordable and More Best Places to Retire List 11 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront Affordable Places to Retire on the Coast 10 Affordable, and Highly Livable, Places to Retire 8 More […]

    by » Why Retirees Are Not Moving to Most Affordable Places to Retire - Topretirements — December 2, 2014

  27. <$200K for 1550 sq ft brick home in a waterfront subdivision on the Florida Panhandle in Mary Esther Florida. The community is named Marsh Harbor and is a gorgeous development. There's a boardwalk down to the beautiful Santa Rosa Sound where you can kayak, paddle board, fish, or just lay in the sun and watch the boars go by. HOA fees are <$700 a year. Home Insurance runs <$1200 a year. Taxes <$2000 a year. Brick homes are easy to maintain. HIP roofs that save many dollars on your home insurance. Small yards. Quiet neighborhood.

    by PDMorgan — January 3, 2015

  28. just looking for a good deal.

    by tom wells — February 8, 2015

  29. I’m not living anywhere with wild pigs.

    by John — February 9, 2015

  30. I’m in total agreement with John, LOL…….

    by botch57 — February 9, 2015

  31. We plan to retire in Corpus Christi, on the bay or the beach areas on Padre Island. ny feedback from the readers?

    by Roger Dabbah — February 9, 2015

  32. Why wild pigs taste good ! Time for a BBQ.

    by Tony — February 10, 2015

  33. John
    I’ve got a feeling that the OP meant boats not boars. If you look at keyboard, it could easily be a typo. IMHO.

    by Journey15 — February 10, 2015

  34. Those boars can sink a boat if you live let them on board. I heard one story about several boars taking over a boat and eating the owners lunch his wife prepared. Got to watch those boars. I not living near them.

    by geoff boston — February 11, 2015

  35. Looking for inland waterfront with an elevation of at least 3500 ft. to avoid the humidity and higher insurance rates of coastal properties. SE states only.

    by Jimmie — March 5, 2015

  36. […] further reading Is a Money Pit Going to Ruin Your Retirement Using Your Home to Pay for Retirement Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront (2 Part series) The Affordable and More Best Places to […]

    by » How to Find a Retirement Home for under $50,000 - Topretirements — March 23, 2015

  37. How about anywhere in Pennsylvania? I have a wife that refuses to leave our area because of proximity to our children, but Virginia taxes are killing us. We are both federal retirees with good pensions that are fully taxed by the state. Suggestions?

    by Dennis Nelson — March 24, 2015

  38. Pa – r u out of ur mind? Ur heading in the wrong directions. 2 mistakes IMO and my RECENT experience. 1. Moving to Pa. 2. Moving to be near the children. In order to save you a lot of headaches, money and Senior lifestyle I would respectfully suggest you do a lot of soul searching and lots and lots of HOMEWORK. Children can always come visit you and it will be cheaper in the long run to FUND their visit than move wrongly. How do I know? It wasn’t because the Bible told me so (wish it had) its because I made BOTH MISTAKES. We are headed back South to one of many better places/states to live.

    by Robert — March 25, 2015

  39. As a former PA resident with family in the state, PA is on my retirement list too. I’m rethinking it a little after this winter, since I got so many pictures from family members showing me all of the snow they had! I have two caveats for my PA shopping: require gas heat, and watch out for real estate taxes. Real estate taxes vary widely by county in PA. You have to be careful to (1) check if the property’s assessment is near the sales price, or you could have an unpleasant surprise when the property is reassessed as a result of the sale, and (2) make sure that you consider county, local and school taxes. I’ve seen some realtors identify only one or two of them, instead of the total. Also – gas prices are fairly high, which is something to keep in mind when considering beautiful rural PA.

    by Sharon — March 25, 2015

  40. Dennis – how about Delaware? Much less expensive than PA and lots of nice retirement areas…or if you really want to try to avoid the winters, travel a bit south of Virginia – North Carolina? We have friends in both states and they rave about how friendly and affordable they are. My daughter lives in PA ( in Bryn Mawr, outside of Philly) and her property taxes are astoundingly high!

    by SandyZ — March 25, 2015

  41. Hi SandyZ, any specific areas or communities in Delaware that you freinds would recommend.

    by Lane — March 25, 2015

  42. Was looking in Lewes Delaware for a while (close to home NJ). So many beautiful community’s but as soon as you leave them areas are run down. I know a lot of states are like that ??

    by Tony — March 26, 2015

  43. There are several 55+ communities in the Dover Delaware area.

    by sue — March 26, 2015

  44. Lane, our friends moved to the Newark area in Delaware -they love living in a college town! Our friends who have retired to NC chose Brunswick Forest and are so happy there! Hope that helps.

    by SandyZ — March 27, 2015

  45. Lane, Sandy Z , Tony: We love Delaware..retired here 8 years ago…so much to do and see..gorgeous clean beaches and wonderful restaurants, wineries, shopping and festivals year round. We live just above Lewes ..off Coastal Hwy. Quick 11 minute trip down to the beach area. Nice year round temps. very little snow if any. melts quickly.

    by sunlovingal — March 27, 2015

  46. Lane: Try Hearthstone Manor just below Milford DE..right off Coastal Hwy. Pool, Clubhouse and public Golf course right next door. 11 min. to beach area in Lewes and Rehoboth..Single one story homes, Villa’s and Condo’s with elevators..nice area. Good Luck! (We love it)

    by sunlovingal — March 27, 2015

  47. Thanks to those who provided info on Delaware. Hope to make a quick trip there just to see if the area appeals. If yes, then perhaps a longer visit. It always helps to have some ideas of where to look. I can usually reject an area on a quick trip, but need a second longer trip to explore. I am curious about Tony’s comment and will see if I get the same impression. I hope that I like it.

    I also intend to do a quick trip to SC and NC and GA and maybe even NE part of FL including Treasure coast. Love this blog!

    by Lane — March 27, 2015

  48. I am currently looking at a home in Lewes. The realtor told me the water is very expensive (water??) and when folks put in a sprinkler system and they also put in a well. This could be a deal breaker for me. This community is Red Mill Pond. I am on a fixed income and any information would be appreciated.

    by Gloria — March 28, 2015

  49. I am looking at a home at Red Mill Pond Lewes DE. The realitor told me that the water was very expensive (water??) and whenmost folks put in a sprinler system they also put in a well. I am on a fixed income and this could be a deal breaker for me. Anyone with information on this??

    by Gloria — March 28, 2015

  50. We live in New York , (Long Island) and had many trips down to Newark, De where my daughter went to college. It is a lovely college town for students, but would not be my cup of tea for retirement. Two years ago we took a trip down to the Wilmington, NC area and loved it. It is a small city witha river walk with many restaurants, stores and activities. We bought a house in Brunswick Forest that backs up to a 8 acre pond, the 4500 acre community is beautiful with all the amenities we would want and 15 min away from Wilmington. We plan on retiring in a year until then we rent the house out, but enjoy frequent visits down to the area.

    by Barbara — March 28, 2015

  51. I lived in Newark, Delaware for many years and agree I would not want to retire there. But have visited Rehoboth Beach and Lewes and had friends who lived in Lewes until he passed away. Looks like there are lots of opportunities now for 55+ living. Rehoboth is a great beach town, family friendly, nice downtown area for tourists and a beautiful long boardwalk. Naturally gets crowded in the summer and parking can be difficult near the beach. And summer traffic can be a mess on the weekends. But there is great shopping, lots of outlets, and no tax on purchases. There are also locations just a little farther south like Bethany Beach. If you want a mild climate it wouldn’t be a bad place to retire but for us, the climate is not mild enough. Agree that Wilmington NC is a lovely town and have looked at Brunswick Forest and liked it, but as of now there is only one bridge across the river to get to and from Wilmington, so that could be an issue. And that climate is not mild enough for us either.

    by Carol — March 28, 2015

  52. Forget the scenic views and look for good health care. This year, my husbands last we can’t keep up with the high cost changes. I’m chronic I’ll will 6 illness. How do I pay for $500,$600 etc Meds and eat? We planed hard for our retirement so now what?

    by Suzy — May 13, 2015

  53. I also wanted to mention that as you age there’s just no way your not going to have health issues! Can you take cold and snow? Who can sweep the drive way? Downtown Oregon was great and we loved condo living and great medical and public transportation. That being said are you prepared for just 3months of summer? The rest is grey gloomy and rain. Chk the annual rain fall. The coast is so beautiful but over an hour away. No medical care or even decent shopping. If you chose downtown it’s lovely to walk out your door and drink your coffee! But for that you have to accept one of the largest social services I’ve ever seen. Needle exchange, run away kids blocking the sidewalk while they sing smoke, you name it and beg. Like just dirty homeless people? They start their line around 3pm for a bunk and religion. We loved this town till we went back for a visit. It’s now filthy and going for a walk after dinner is a risk. Kids hide in the parking garages and alert others of your location. Broke my heart. Will your lungs and legs work-to run -like they did in your 30’s? Nope. High crime rate. The people in charge destroyed the city and cops don’t get paid enough to risk their lives. A real shame on a perfect city!!!

    by Suzy — May 13, 2015

  54. Can anyone suggest more places to look at in Delaware?

    by Mary — May 14, 2015

  55. Gloria,

    Re: Putting in a well in Lewes. We almost bought in DE and were told the same thing by a very forthcoming future neighbor. I think the price he quoted was around $3k? Decided not to build due to other issues like flood insurance and worries about every NE storm passing by bringing water to our backyard (neighbor also mentioned this)!

    by Fiona — May 14, 2015

  56. Mary: Look at Milford DE..Hearthstone Manor..Clubhouse and Pool and public golf course next door. Right off of Coast Highway Rt. 1..Just above Lewes. Pretty area. Lovely town with many little Boutiques, Art Gallery, and restaurants. Brand New Medical Center being built right across from Hearthstone . Will include Dr. office campus and all Out-patient services as well. So happy we chose this area..close to the beaches without the crowds and easy trip down in 11 minutes. Lovin’ Life in our Coastal DE area.

    by sunlovingal — May 14, 2015

  57. Has anyone have knowledge of Sun City Anthem? It is around the Las Vegas, NV.

    David

    by David Palons — May 14, 2015

  58. […] up with a list of affordable places to retire. Check out our previous lists! For further reference: Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 1 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 2 10 Affordable and More Best Places to Retire […]

    by » 10 Affordable…and Highly Livable… Places to Retire - Topretirements — July 21, 2015

  59. […] further reading: Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 1 Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront, Part 2 10 Affordable and More Best Places to Retire […]

    by » More Affordable Places to Retire – A Reading List - Topretirements — July 21, 2015

  60. Check this out: HGTV liked this funky, affordable beach town (it’s close to where I live):

    http://gotoby.com/news/article/2579/HGTVs-Beachfront-Bargain-Hunt-Featuring-Flagler-Beach-to-Air-August-9th#

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — July 23, 2015

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Salary Data custom salary reports specific to your state and industry.