Bethany Beach : Delaware


What It Is Like to Retire in Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach is a very small and affluent beach town located between Rehobeth Beach and Ocean City (MD) in southern Delaware. The population is just under 1,000 although it swells to 15,000 during the summer holidays. Bethany Beach was founded by the Christian Missionary Society as a summer resort and Chatauqua-type summer resort.  It was dry until recently and even now the number of bars and hours of sale for alcohol are tightly regulated. The town has considerable resources, including a short boardwalk and restaurants. This area is popular both as a resort and as a retirement destination. It opened up when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge first opened in 1952.  Bethany Beach and nearby towns Lewes, South Bethany, Dewey, Rehoboth Beach, Fenwick Island comprise most of the Delaware shore resort area. Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island are popularly known as "The Quiet Resorts".  Delaware is a desirable place to retire due to its tax-friendly status.

Photo of boardwalk courtesy of and per license of Wikipedia and Kit Conn; photo of A View of the Beach courtesy of Wikipedia and PointsofNoReturn. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/


Where to Retire in Bethany Beach and Home Prices

There are several active adult communities in Bethany Beach and nearby towns (see Active Communties link at top right). 
Zillow reports the median home value to be $610,186, in early 2021. Millville and Ocean View are 2 neighboring communities just inland.


What Is Special about Bethany Beach

This is a beautiful and quiet beach town.  Delaware Seashore State Park is immediately to the north of the town, a six mile-long barrier island. There is no state sales tax and property taxes are quite low. See our mini Delaware Retirement Guide for more.

What Is Not Special about Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach has been hit by a number of big storms including Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and a Nor'easter in 1962 that caused a lot of damage. Real estate prices are extraordinarily high.

Who Will Like Retirement in Bethany Beach

People looking for a quiet retirement on the Delaware shore might enjoy Bethany Beach and its surrounding towns. Nearby Rehoboth has a reputation as being very gay-friendly.

Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism and retirees drive the Bethany Beach economy.

Climate and Physical Environment

Bethany Beach is in extreme southern Delaware on the Atlantic Ocean.  The average July high temperature is 86 and the average January low is 28. The wettest month is August (5").

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Nature and the outdoors are a big part of Bethany Beach's culture. For more traditional culture a trip to Rehoboth Beach or Wilmington might be in order.


Crime in Bethany Beach is very high, although none of it is violent, largely inflated by thefts and burglaries.

Medical Facilities

The nearest acute care hospitals are about 16 miles away in towns like Lewes and Berlin.


There is a trolley that runs during the summer months. When compared to other communities Bethany Beach is below average in walkability.


Valuable Links

Town of Bethany Beach

Wikipedia for Bethany Beach


What people are saying about Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach
My sister owns a second home in Bethany Beach. Very family-oriented, and less than a three hour drive from the Washington DC area (assuming no traffic). Crowded during the summer, but a good selection of restaurants, nice beach, and a wonderful book store (I've done several book signings there) - Bethany Beach Books. Good place to consider for a second home, especially if it's within driving distance. Jan Cullinane, co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)
Posted by jancullinane on January 27, 2010

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