9 Affordable Gulf Coast Beach Towns for Retirement

Looking for a place to retire outside of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or other first choices? The Gulf Coast –spanning from Florida to Texas is a great option that tends to fly under the radar for most folks.

With picturesque views and a temperate climate year-round, cities and towns on the Gulf Coast have a lot to offer, and many beach communities are very affordable if you’re a retiree looking to maximize your retirement savings.

Even if you plan to find a nice vacation home or condo, you’ve got plenty of options.

in this post, I’ll provide a brief breakdown of nine Gulf Coast towns that let you get the most bang for your buck while still enjoying life on sunny shores.

1. Gulfport, Mississippi

Gulfport mississippi beach

Seven miles of white sandy beach make Gulfport the postcard idea of a beach town. It offers numerous activities to fill the leisurely days after retirement. Many publications have dubbed Gulfport “America’s Most Affordable Beach Town”, so it’s definitely worth a look.

There are several white sand beaches like Biloxi beach nearby, as well as one of the best fishing scenes on the Gulf Coast. Play golf or mini-golf, spend the day on the water, then relax over dinner and one of the many restaurants featuring classic and exotic dishes unique to this area.

The harbor and downtown areas are perfect for leisurely strolls, while the entertainment district offers even more fun and excitement.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $167,085 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 33% lower than national average (Payscale)
  • Cost of living: 11% lower than national average (Payscale)

Notable attractions

  • Ship Island Excursion
  • The Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum
  • Banana’s Mini-Golf and Arcade

2. Port Arthur, Texas

sabine pass near fort arthur texas

Known for abundant wildlife and delicious food, Port Arthur is perfect for nature and food lovers alike and one of the lesser-known places to retire near the beach for those on a budget.

Being close to the Louisiana border imparts a Cajun flair to the town that pairs nicely with the coastal feel and abundant seafood.

Pleasure Island is one of the main attractions and has everything from golf to a diverse religious scene consisting of Buddhist temples and historical cathedrals.

This area of Texas is one that doesn’t get too much attention nationally, but has seen recent investment in recent years and is ideal for retirees on a budget. Check out Port Arthur’s tourism website here for more information.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $84,390 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 38% lower than national average (Payscale)
  • Cost of living: 9% lower than national average (Payscale)

Notable attractions

  • Pleasure Island
  • Texas Artist’s Museum

3. Fort Pierce, Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida beach

One of the oldest communities of Florida’s east coast, Fort Pierce offers a wide variety of entertainment options, from fishing to horseback riding along the beach.

Several facilities focused on senior living are also available in the area. The town also has programs in place to clean the water going into the gorgeous Indian River Lagoon, dedicated to protecting the local environment for years to come.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $241,774 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 8.9% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 6.9% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • National Navy UDT/Seal Museum
  • Heathcote Botanical Gardens
  • Smithsonian Marine Station


4. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama beach

Gulf Shores is a great option if you’re looking for a place with beautiful blue water (outside of Florida) on a budget.

Any beach with white sand and aqua blue water is bound to be much more expensive than any other spot on the gulf, but Gulf Shores in general still ranks below the national average in a lot of cost of living categories.

Gulf Shores has some of the best beaches in Alabama and being close to Pensacola there are a ton of Florida beaches nearby to explore.

There are also several golf courses in the area like Kiva Dunes in nearby Fort Morgan, which is one of the top-rated public golf courses in the state.

Gulf Shores even offers dolphin tours and other fishing and wildlife excursions, making it one of the more family-friendly locations on the list.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $365,696 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 30% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 9.5% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
  • Aeropro LLC
  • Alabama’s Coastal Connections Scenic Byways

5. Pensacola, Florida

Perdido Beach Pensacola

Pensacola is my personal favorite on the list, due to having some of the best beaches in the state. Nestled on the edge of Panhandle, it’s one of those areas that most non-natives like myself don’t think of as one of the first coastal cities to visit or retire, which is why I think it’s such a good option.

Don’t get me wrong, Pensacola is a good-sized city and there is plenty to do, but it’s surprisingly affordable compared to other areas like Panama City or Sarasota.

It’s also a bit less touristy than other larger beach cities in Florida, making it ideal if you’re looking to escape the crowds.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $220,742 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 30% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 31.7% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • The Teche Theater
  • Grevemberg House Museum
  • Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge

6. Freeport, Texas

surfside beach texas

The city of Freeport and surrounding beaches is a great area in Texas for retirees, nestled between the Brazos River and the Gulf of Mexico.

This area is a fishing haven, featuring charter boats for offshore fishing, freshwater fishing on the Brazos, and even surf fishing on Bryan Beach.

Surfside Beach is another popular beach for families and retirees on Follet’s Island. While beaches in Texas aren’t super ideal for swimmers, there is actually a lot to do in this area for families and a quiet getaway for retirees.

This video gives a quick tour:

You don’t have to go far if you’re looking for other activities like kayaking, bird watching, and golf. Freeport is even home to the northernmost coral reefs in the continental US.

If senior living is more your style, the Senior Citizen Commission also organizes activities once a month for residents 55+.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $135,156 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 19.5% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 7% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary
  • Freeport Wetlands Trails and Bird Observatory
  • Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

7. Dunedin, Florida

dundin florida beach

Near Tampa, Dunedin and its surrounding beaches are charming, laid-back, with plenty to offer. From paddleboarding to cruises, to fishing and sunbathing, it’s a great option if being close to a large city is important.

If you’re looking to experience the culture, the town hosts annual Scottish festivals. For nature lovers, Dunedin is set against a beautiful wooded backdrop of mangrove trees, and two nearby islands showcase the natural beauty of the area.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $362,249 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 18.8% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 5.4% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • Caldesi Island State Park
  • Penny Lane Beatles Museum
  • Dunedin Mardi Gras

8. Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Biloxi Beach Mississippi

Also known as the City of Discovery, the Ocean Springs area has a rich history and small-town charm. The town also has a thriving art community and is home to the Ocean Springs Art Association and the Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival.

Ocean Springs is a few miles outside of Biloxi, which is an extremely popular spot for retirees and tourism. If you want close access to the beach but still close to casinos, Ocean Springs is a good place to get away.

Entertainment options include shopping, restaurants, and an active nightlife, and three entertainment districts even allow patrons to take drinks out of restaurants and bars in specific “go-cups”.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $225,323 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 6.8% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 11.6% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • Walter Anderson Art Museum
  • Charnley-Norwood House
  • Slow Ride Pedal Tours

9. Galveston, Texas

Galveston Island Texas at night

On the Gulf Coast of Texas, the Galveston, Texas area is an ideal spot for being in close proximity to Houston while offering affordable options like the surrounding towns like Alvin.

There’s no shortage of things to do here, from visiting historical sites and museums to exploring parks, trails, and even a zoo. It’s also located close to Houston for convenient day trips to a big city.

Cost of living

  • Median Home Price: $328,267 (Zillow)
  • Housing Costs: 19.5% lower than national average (Salary)
  • Cost of living: 6.2% lower than national average (Salary)

Notable attractions

  • Bayou Wildlife Zoo
  • Alvin Historical Train Depot
  • Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

Conclusion

With no state income tax in two of the 4 states mentioned, retiring in the Gulf Coast states is becoming more and more popular these days.

Daytime highs rarely fall below 60 degrees year-round, which is another perk many people enjoy.

If Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and other Atlantic Coast beach towns are a little out of your price range, these gems are worth paying attention to.

Have any that I missed you’d like to include? Leave a comment below.

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