The 9 Best U.S. Beach Towns to Raise a Family

Raising a family in a coastal or beach community is becoming a reality for more and more people able to work remotely. If that’s you, today I want to cover a few of America’s best beach towns for raising a family.

In this post, I’ll cover what I think are some of the top spots across America; all geographically and culturally different, but all pretty laid back and fun for families.

Since most are married couples starting a family, most on this list have affordable single-family housing and good school districts. Keep in mind the cost of living is significantly lower the further from the coast you are; so if affordability is important, start your search a few miles from the coast.

You can always move into a more expensive home closer to the beach down the road, once you fall in love with the area 🙂

1. Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach is my personal favorite on the list for families because it’s centrally located between Orlando, Jacksonville, and South Florida.

It’s a quiet place to raise a family, and the good news is that it’s near entertainment and stays above 70 degrees year-round! Haters call it Zero Beach, but haters gonna hate!

The median age is 53 in Vero Beach and is centrally located which makes it great. If you are looking for a beach location close to Orlando and all the theme parks AND Miami, look no further.

Check out the video below to hear from a Vero Beach native, Andrew Pensch for a few pros and cons.

Median home price: $332, 127 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Riverside Theater; Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

2. Oxnard, California

Oxnard is great for families due to its affordability for a beach community, making it one of those hidden California gems. The median home price in Oxnard is under $700,000 at the time of this post, which is pretty affordable by California standards.

If you’re looking to live pretty close to the beach and willing to move further inland, you can find home prices even more affordable. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous, and not as crowded as those in Santa Barbara or the LA beaches.

The Oxnard School District is a pretty middle-of-the-road district in the state of California, with 9 high schools, and around 20 schools in the K-12 classification.

Median home price: $690,804 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Channel Island Harbor; Mandalay State Beach; Bedford Pinkard Skate Park

3. Gig Harbor, Washington

For families with children, Gig Harbor schools rank in the top 20% of Washington schools, and the state of Washington ranks #26 out of 50 states according to WalletHub, calculated using U.S. Census Data.

It’s one of those areas that’s more laid back than over beach communities and isn’t a touristy area like many coastal areas along the east coast. The Canterwood area is one of the best places to raise kids in this area, includes a golf and country club, and most homes range from around $800,000 to 2 million.

Gig Harbor offers everything from farmland to waterfront property, but whatever lifestyle you prefer, it’s great for kids being a quiet coastal area. This video dives into these neighborhoods a bit more.

Other than that, features like craft breweries, wine bars, celebrated restaurants, cute shops, scenic harbor, parks along the beautiful shoreline make Gig Harbor a perfect family town.

You can enjoy maritime festivals and several golf courses. Mount Rainer is also about 50 miles away, so you really can’t go wrong as a beach or mountain lover.

Median home price: $776,418 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Harbor History Museum; Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

4. Port Aransas, Texas

Commonly known as “Port A”, this seaside town is another good option to enjoy a family lifestyle. It is located on Mustang Island that bustles with good humor, serenity, and optimism. The beach town offers 18 miles of beautiful beachfront to enjoy.

The Port Aransas Independent School District has about a 10:1 student to teacher ratio, one of the better school districts in the state. One thing to know is Port A is a pretty big spring break destination being close to nearby Corpus Christi and has been growing tremendously since the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are looking for an area to raise a family close to the beach (or within driving distance), Whitecap Beach area is near the popular Corpus Christi area, and you’ve got Galveston beaches to the north.

This area has some great water sports and fishing opportunities if you’re thinking of permanently living here with kids—you just need to decide if you’d like to be near a large city like Corpus Christi, Houston, or Galveston or not.

Median home price: $534, 036 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Coffee Waves; Mustang Island State Park, Port Aransas Beach

5. Jacksonville, Florida

Including Jacksonville Beach, the Jacksonville area is a top choice of families is that it combines the best options a town can offer. The sunshine state offers low housing costs, fantastic schools, and low-cost living. You can generally become a homeowner in Jacksonville for around $275K, and there are a TON of housing options.

Jacksonville is one of the small-market big cities that offer a decent amount of entertainment, in addition to being a coastal city with a beach that never gets too crowded.

The neighborhoods are too many to mention, but an area like Nocatee just south of Jacksonville is one of the most popular planned communities with a waterpark, and just about anything else kids love.

If beach vibes are more your thing, just know that housing near Jacksonville Beach starts in the millions, but plenty around the Jacksonville metro in general.

Consider moving to the St. Augustine area and south of Jax if you prefer a 5-10 minute beach drive with more affordable single-family housing options.

The weather is also consistently in the 70s year-round which is awesome, but do your research before purchasing a home because neighborhoods can vary; some are much safer than others.

Median home price: $273, 730 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: TIAA Bank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars; Jacksonville beaches; Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

6. Hampton Bays, New York

Located on Long Island, the Hampton Bays area is a quiet area just south of the Hamptons. If you’re a beach lover, you can enjoy nearby Ponquogue Beach. It’s one of the cleaner beaches in the area and a pretty laid back spot most of the time:

The Beach Pavillion in Southampton is a local favorite currently under renovation, but if you’re looking for more to do, there are some great restaurants in the Hamptons.

You’re a little over 2 hours from NYC, and while I wouldn’t recommend communicating, this could be a great lifestyle if you are able to work from home, or only need to commute a few days each month.

The Heatherwood area includes Town and Country Luxury apartments and is highly rated in the area. If you’re looking for a lot of amenities like soccer fields, pools, and other courts, this is a good one to consider.

Looking to live a laid-back lifestyle near the coast for a few years, but still near the big city? Consider a few of these beachfront communities along Long Island.

Median home price: $774, 534 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: UBS Arena, home of the NHL’s New York Islanders

7. Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Carolina Beach is one of those easily missed areas situated just south of Wilmington, North Carolina that offers a more affordable and family-friendly.

It does have a top-rated elementary school if you have young children, and less than 4 miles from Eugene Ashely High School just south of Wilmington.

I prefer this area for families because it doesn’t attract as many tourists as Wrightsville Beach, is more affordable, but still offers excellent beaches. Many locals vacation at Carolina Beach, and it’s close enough to Wilmington to provide the entertainment you’d expect.

Median home price: $485,984 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar; Battleship North Carolina

8. Seaside, Oregon

The oldest town of Oregon still attracts the crowds. It is mostly because of its great shopping malls, fun family activities, and wide beaches. Seaside, Oregon is home to the largest amateur volleyball tournament.

The cost of living in Seaside is relatively less expensive than other areas like Astoria or Cannon Beach, but definitely some opportunity to find a good home.

The public school system in Seaside is also highly rated, with a combined middle and high school being completed in 2020. The teacher-to-student ratio is also average for the state at 19:1.

Arcades, bumper cars, ice cream shops, and eateries give Seaside that nice fifties beach vibe; plenty of weekend activities for kids.

Median home price: $458,801 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament, the world’s largest amateur volleyball tournament!; Seaside Beach; Seaside Aquarium

9. Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola is one of those hidden gems on the Gulf Coast perfect for raising a family because it’s affordable, quiet, and beautiful. The cost of living is about 30% lower than the national average as well.

There are also really gorgeous beaches in Pensacola and some of the best-preserved beaches in the nation; TripAdvisor recently named Pensacola America’s 4th best.

Pensacola High School is the top 1-2 high school in the Escambia County School district, and among Florida’s top schools for college prep. You have quite a few schools to choose from in this area being a larger coastal city.

Median home price: $225,272 (Zillow)
Nearby attractions: Pensacola Children’s Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum; Admiral Fetterman Field, home to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, minor league affiliate of the MLB’s Miami Marlins

One final note

It all comes down to where you want to raise your kids, how long you plan to live there, and what your lifestyle is like. Do you like being near a big coastal city, or prefer a more laid-back community? Living at the coast presents its own set of challenges, including dealing with crowds in the spring and summer.

If you’re considering property on or near a beach community, be sure to check out my post 9 Drawbacks of Owning a House on the Beach. Beach life is not always a Sandals experience 24/7, but a pretty fun lifestyle for many families.

If you’re like me, being 10 to 15 minutes away from a great beach is ideal to avoid dealing with heavy traffic during peak season; but it depends on your preferences!

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