9 Best U.S. Beach Towns to Raise a Family Most Can Afford

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 the best beach towns in the United States to raise a family.

All locations on the list are great for beach lovers, with many boasting low crime rates, good schools, and plenty of local restaurants. Some are small towns, others are near larger cities, amusement parks, or lots of recreational activities.

strong>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. If you prefer a low cost of living, start your search a few miles from the coast.

While your household income will determine areas you can afford today, you can always move closer to the coast later on 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, it’s one of the cheapest beach towns in Florida 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 it’s centrally located on the Florida coast between Daytona Beach and Miami. If you’d like a short drive to either Miami or Orlando for your family vacation, 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 a great place for families in Southern California considering less affordable housing in areas like Santa Monica. The median home price is under $800,000 at the time of this post, making Oxnard one of the most affordable beach towns on the California Coast. Taxes in Ventura County are a bit less than in Orange County as well.

If you’d prefer a short drive to the beach, you’ll get bang for your buck compared to Santa Barbara or the Los Angeles beaches; Oxnard’s beaches are nowhere as crowded on the weekends.

The Oxnard School District is a pretty middle-of-the-road district in 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 other beach communities and isn’t a popular tourist destination compared to many other coastal regions. The Canterwood area is one of the best places to raise kids in this area with golf options and a country club; 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.

You’ll also find craft breweries, wine bars, and cute shops in Gig Harbor.

You can enjoy maritime festivals and several golf courses. Mount Rainer is also about 50 miles away, so it’s the perfect place for both beach and mountain lovers in the family.

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 small town is one of the best coastal spots in south Texas with sandy beaches, palm trees, and everything you’d expect. It is located on Mustang Island and offers 18 miles of beautiful beachfront.

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 due to low housing costs, fantastic schools, and low-cost living. You can generally become a homeowner in the Jacksonville area for under $400K, and there are a TON of housing options.

Jacksonville is one of the small-market beach 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 options for families.

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 isn’t as crowded as nearby beaches like Myrtle Beach, but not as expensive as Wrightsville Beach. Many locals in North Carolina vacation at Carolina Beach, and it’s a short drive to Wilmington if you ever need to venture out.

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.

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 outdoor 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 along the Gulf of Mexico that’s perfect for raising a family because it’s affordable, quiet, and beautiful. The cost of living is about 30% lower than the national average.

There are also beautiful beaches in Pensacola and some of the best-preserved white-sand 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 your lifestyle. 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 can be a great experience.

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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