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Best Places to Live Near the Ocean in 2024

Want to live near the ocean? Whether you’re looking for a cozy New England harbor town or a big city with beautiful beaches, there are plenty of great options for you. Check out these 11 top cities for coastal living!

Cape May, NJ

  • Population: 3,529
  • Home Price: $557,200 median purchase price; $837 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 60% of U.S. cities

Known as “America’s Original Beach Town,” Cape May is one of the best places to live near the ocean! This southeastern New Jersey city is filled with world-class beaches, a variety of waterfront recreational activities, outdoor concerts, and an incredible restaurant and nightlife scene. Cape May is known for its gorgeous Victorian architecture, and its shores and boardwalk have attracted tourists for over 150 years. Residents can find pristine beaches and historic sites here like Cape May Point, as well as shops and restaurants at Washington Street Mall, which lines the three-block stretch of Washington Street. In addition, the city is home to a booming job market, with top employers in the hospitality industry like Congress Hall and the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel.

Things to Do in Cape May

Spend the evening watching the sunset or playing mini golf at Sunset Beach. Go fishing with the family or take your furry friend for a walk along the shore at Higbee Beach. Take in scenic views of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean by climbing the spiral stairway to the top of the historic Cape May Lighthouse. Attend a weekly walk or a workshop featuring in-depth birding excursions to learn more about the area’s natural history at the Cape May Bird Observatory. Take a guided tour to explore Victorian architecture and daily life during the 1800s at the Emlen Physick Estate, an 18-room mansion. Enjoy breakfast near the beach with dishes like Eggs Benedict, French Toast, or a Bacon Omelette at Oceanview Restaurant. Dine on Italian cuisine like Eggplant Rollantini, Spaghetti Alla Sapore, or Gnocchi Pomodoro at Sapore Italiano. Or listen to live music while sipping drinks like the Happy Hour Czech Pilsner, Shipwreck Punch, or a Cold Brew Martini at The Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar.

Jacksonville, FL

  • Population: 856,616
  • Home Price: $140,000 median purchase price; $955 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 9% of U.S. cities

With its gorgeous year-round weather, scenic outdoor recreation spots, and budget-friendly housing, Jacksonville is one of the best places to live on the East Coast! Home to Fortune 500 companies such as CSX, Fidelity National Financial, and FIS, this beach city offers a variety of jobs in industries like manufacturing, finance, and transportation. Jacksonville has easy access to many nearby beaches like Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach, where residents can enjoy waterfront activities like swimming, boating, or fishing. In addition, there are tons of family-friendly spots to hang out throughout the city, which include the Riverside Arts Market, St. Johns Town Center, and The Avenues.

Things to Do in Jacksonville

Spend an afternoon kayaking or fishing on the lake, or have a picnic with the family at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. Hike along the trail, learn about the European exploration, or take in the scenic views of the St. John’s River at Fort Caroline National Memorial. Participate in yoga on the beach or challenge yourself to surfing lessons on the water at Neptune Beach. Walk along miles of soft white sand and stop by fresh seafood restaurants to try the local specialty, Mayport shrimp, at Mayport Beach. Start off your morning with a Vegan Tofu Scramble, Pancake Stack, or Shrimp & Grits for breakfast at Uptown Kitchen & Bar. Dine on Crispy Cajun Fish, an Heirloom Tomato Melt, or a Bistro Burger while sitting on the patio at The Bread & Board. Chow down on Mexican dishes like Fajita Chicken Nachos, Enchiladas Verdes, or Street Tacos at Hola Mexican Restaurant. Or spend a night out on the town while sipping on handcrafted cocktails like the Snow Bird, Golden Banana, or The Bridge at The Volstead.

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Lahaina, HI

Coastline of Lahaina, HI. Photo by Instagram user @alohastays

Photo via @alohastays

  • Population: 12,675
  • Home Price: $552,900 median purchase price; $1,313 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 34% of U.S. cities

On the west side of Maui lies the former whaling town of Lahaina. Its Hawaiian name, Lele, means “relentless sun,” and it’s no wonder why—the city sees an average of 276 sunny days a year! And with low temperatures averaging around 65 degrees, Lahaina provides a comfortable climate for residents throughout the year. Another perk of Lahaina’s amazing weather is that you can get out and explore all of the town’s natural wonders. Residents and tourists alike are often spotted walking along Front Street—which is lined with trendy shops, galleries, restaurants, and more. And although this is a popular tourist destination, it’s a fantastic place to live due to its breathtaking beaches, mountains, and views of the Pacific Ocean.

Things to Do in Lahaina

Take the kids to swim at Pu’unoa Beach, where there are calm, shallow waters perfect for little ones. See some truly unique views out on the water or go whale watching on Trilogy’s Lahaina Sunset Sail. Explore the depths of the ocean with a trip on the Atlantis Submarine. Try your hand at parasailing or go on a fishing charter with UFO Parasail & Adventures. Check out the oldest living Banyan tree in Maui or attend the Lahaina Arts & Crafts fair at Lahaina Banyan Court Park. Order fresh seafood like Coconut Shrimp, Macadamia Nut Crusted Calamari, or Tristan Lobster Tails at Kimo’s Maui. Feast on Surf and Turf, Seared Lion Paw Scallops, or a Slow Braised Boneless Short Rib for a night of fine dining at Lahaina Grill. Grab some Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Roselani Ice Cream, and tropical-flavored cookies for dessert at BanyanTreats. Or toss back some local Hawaiian brews like the Hana Hou Hefe, 808 Pale Ale, or Skinny Jeans IPA at Waikiki Brewing Co.

Myrtle Beach, SC

People on the Sand at Myrtle Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC. Photo by Instagram user @mymyrtlebeach

Photo via @mymyrtlebeach

  • Population: 30,106
  • Home Price: $173,600 median purchase price; $824 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 0% of U.S. cities

Both a popular tourist destination and one of the best beach cities in the U.S., Myrtle Beach is a great place to live near the ocean! This East Coast city offers an abundance of jobs in the hospitality industry, thanks to its 1,500+ restaurants, 80+ golf courses, and shopping complexes like Broadway at the Beach. Of course, it’s not all work in this South Carolina oceanside town! There are tons of family-friendly activities at local attractions like the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk—which features the SkyWheel, amazing restaurants, annual festivals, beach access, and more. In addition, Myrtle Beach offers fantastic real estate opportunities, as it’s one of the best places for buying vacation homes and a top spot for Airbnb rentals!

Things to Do in Myrtle Beach

Experience the thrill of roller coasters and water rides right on the beach at Family Kingdom Amusement Park. Head up to North Myrtle Beach to cast a line and try your hand at fishing on the Cherry Grove Pier. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun, flying a kite, or playing frisbee along The Golden Mile. Hit the links at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club—recognized as one of the best golf courses in South Carolina. Order a Full Stack of Pancakes, Red Velvet Waffle, or Crab Meat Omelet at the National House of Pancakes. Indulge in Pan-Seared Scallops or Crab Cakes with specialty cocktails like Fish House Punch at the nautical Hook & Barrel. Sink your teeth into some Gulf Wings, Crab Dip, or a Flip-Flop Philly in a casual, beach-themed setting at Flip Flops Bar & Grill. Or have some weekend fun with cocktails, live music, and karaoke along the oceanfront at Scotty’s Beach Bar.

Naples, FL

Aerial Photo of Condos at Dusk in Naples, FL. Photo by Instagram user @naplesswfl

Photo via @naplesswfl

  • Population: 20,980
  • Home Price: $770,000 median purchase price; $1,189 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 68% of U.S. cities

Not only is Naples an incredible place to live near the ocean in Florida, but it’s also one of the best places to live in America! With its relaxed atmosphere, warm Gulf Coast climate, and residential canals, Naples is an ideal destination for people who love spending time outdoors and being close to the water. On top of that, this Florida city offers great employment opportunities and things to do. You can find work with Fortune 500 companies like Oracle, Harley-Davidson, and Marriott International, and you can hang out in Historic Downtown Naples, which is full of shops, entertainment, dining, and nightlife.

Things to Do in Naples

Schedule a deep-sea fishing excursion just off the coast with Dalis Fishing Charters, Inc. Play sand volleyball, splash around at the beach, or go paddleboarding at Lowdermilk Park. Embark on a guided tour, attend an animal show, or stroll around Alligator Bay at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Walk through the Asian Garden and Caribbean Garden at the stunning 170-acre Naples Botanical Garden. Spend an afternoon shopping on the waterfront in high-end stores at The Village Shops on Venetian Bay. Enjoy a Rotisserie Lamb Gyro or Spiced Fish Sandwich with a Pina Colada while overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Rhode’s End. Try seafood favorites like a Sea Scallop Salad, Fish & Chips, or Gulf Shrimp Tempura while waterfront dining at Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar. Savor dishes like Fish Tacos, Jumbo Lump Crabcakes, or Sauteed Shrimp Milanaise for dinner at Grouper & Chips. Or relax seaside with some Butterfly Shrimp, Jumbo Clam Strips, or a Surf & Turf platter at Buzz’s Lighthouse.

Port Aransas, TX

  • Population: 3,861
  • Home Price: $267,800 median purchase price; $1,146 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 14% of U.S. cities

Hidden gem Port Aransas is one of the best places to live near the ocean with a small-town feel. Along with fishing in the agriculture industry, Port A’s job market offers a low unemployment rate of 1.9% thanks to a variety of jobs available in its main industries of hospitality, education, construction, and more. The “Fishing Capital of Texas” attracts plenty of tourists, but visitors and residents alike fish in their spare time—along with parasailing, golfing, kayaking, and dolphin-watching! More outdoor recreational fun in Port Aransas is plenty easy to find at places like the Padre Island National Seashore, Mustang Island State Park, and San Jose Island. You’ll find 18 miles of beach access here, and residents can also enjoy outdoor activities like surfing or swimming at local Port Aransas Beach.

Things to Do in Port Aransas

Spend a day outdoors with the family by going fishing or surfing at the Horace Caldwell Pier. Play a game of sand volleyball or watch for dolphins on the observation tower at the 50-acre Roberts Point Park. Partake in a Guided Nature Walk or clear your mind by attending a yoga class at the Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. Schedule a tee time at the 12-hole Palmilla Beach Golf Club, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. Begin your morning with a Cafe Americano or Matcha with a Turkey Avocado Panini at Coffee Waves. Order a Veggie Delight Pizza, Meatball Hot Sub, or Lasagna for dinner at Port A Pizzeria. Dig into seafood plates like Clam Chowder, Calamari, or an Oyster Po-Boy Sandwich while enjoying views of the Harbor at Virginia’s On the Bay. Or savor dishes like Crab Cakes and Homemade Seafood Gumbo while drinking a Marlin Mojito at FINS Grill & Icehouse.

Portland, ME

  • Population: 66,649
  • Home Price: $248,000 median purchase price; $969 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 49% of U.S. cities

Want to live by the ocean and still experience all four seasons? Portland, Maine is the place! A top destination for fall vacations with its beautiful autumn scenery, this New England city is also one of the top ten best places to live in America due to its impressive safety ratings and affordable coastal home prices. The city’s charming cobblestone streets, romantic lighthouses, and local fishing community make it an attractive option for those looking to live somewhere with a small-town feel. Another attractive aspect of moving to Portland—particularly for young professionals and entrepreneurs—is the city’s local initiatives to build a tech hub in Maine. So if you’re searching for a city that combines coastal living, outdoor recreation, and a growing job market, give Portland a look!

Things to Do in Portland

Tend your plot in the summer community garden or go sledding and ice skating in the winter at Edward Payson Park. Run along the oceanfront or enjoy the views from one of the gazebos at Fort Allen Park. Learn more about Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and more of the “unknown” at the International Cryptozoology Museum. Check out Contemporary art and photography exhibitions like Passages in American Art, or go to a film screening at the Portland Museum of Art. Start your day with coffee and baked goods like a Loaded Biscuit or Breakfast Sandwich at Tandem Coffee & Bakery. Pick up dishes like Fried Avocado Tacos, Yuca Poutine, or Chicken Taquitos at Bird & Co. Try the Lobster Club, Chicken Parmigiana, or Fried Clams while overlooking the water at DiMillo’s on the Water. Or order craft beers such as the Portland Pale Ale, Brightside IPA, and Tessellation while grabbing bites from one of the rotating food trucks at Lone Pine Brewery.

San Clemente, CA

  • Population: 65,082
  • Home Price: $801,100 median purchase price; $1,696 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 61% of U.S. cities

If you want to live near sandy beaches, coastal trails, and outdoor recreation spots, consider moving to San Clemente! This California city is filled with Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and is a hot spot for swimmers, campers, and hikers. Residents can enjoy waterfront activities like surfing at some of the best beaches in Orange County—including San Clemente State Beach, Linda Lane Park Beach, and San Onofre State Beach. Plus, San Clemente is home to the popular San Clemente Pier, a landmark that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, seaside restaurants and shops, and a variety of recreational activities. As for job opportunities in the city, residents can find employment at top employers like Glaukos, ICU Medical, and Stance.

Things to Do in San Clemente

Go on a hike or admire stunning views of the mountains and oceanfront at the Rancho San Clemente Ridgeline Trail. Host a picnic with the family, go for a bike ride, or try your hand at scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, and more at San Clemente State Beach. Spend an afternoon surfing or sunbathing at the palm tree-lined T-Street Beach. Tee off on the 18-hole course overlooking the hills of San Clemente at Talega Golf Club. Shop for clothing or accessories at popular stores like Levi’s or Calvin Klein at the Outlets at San Clemente. Start off your day with a Croissant Breakfast Sandwich, Ham & Cheese Omelet, or Stuffed French Toast for breakfast at Cafe Rae. Enjoy Hawaiian-style dishes like Hapa Sliders, an Albacore Melt with Avocado Sandwich, or TuTu’s Pork Plate at Hapa J’s. Or sample craft beers for happy hour like the Bog Trotter Red Ale, Tirim (Nitro) Stout, or Show Me Your Roots Blonde Ale at Artifex Brewing Company.

Santa Barbara, CA

Lots of Boats in the Harbor at Santa Barbara, CA. Photo by Instagram user @ap__project

Photo via @ap__project

  • Population: 90,922
  • Home Price: $888,000 median purchase price; $1,575 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 24% of U.S. cities

If you’re looking to live in a warmer city with great beaches like Arroyo Burro Beach and Leadbetter Beach, consider living in Santa Barbara! With its clear blue Pacific Coast waters and a variety of green spaces found throughout the city against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains, it’s hard not to love Santa Barbara’s quieter, more leisurely vibe. As for the local job market, Santa Barbara has a strong startup culture and a few Fortune 500 companies with offices in the area—including Amazon and Bread Financial, making it a great place to settle down near the ocean.

Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Go horseback riding through Rattlesnake Canyon Park or hit the trails for a hike at Los Padres National Forest. Play volleyball, kayak on the water, or walk along the sand at West Beach. Check out Santa Barbara’s number one attraction—with trendy restaurants, unique shops, and even a waterfront taxi shuttle—the historic Stearns Wharf. See a variety of animals like leopards or giraffes in various habitats at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Learn about humanity’s endeavors on the water or catch a nautical film at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Attend events like Haunt at the Showgrounds and the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo with the family at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Grab breakfast on the beach with dishes like a Scrambled Egg Sandwich, Breakfast Burrito, or Blueberry Pancakes at the eco-friendly Shoreline Beach Cafe. Get some of the best seafood in Santa Barbara by ordering Fried Calamari, Fresh Shucked Oysters, or Rockfish Ceviche at Santa Barbara FisHouse. Try one of the daily dinner specials like the Salmon Pomodoro or everyday favorites like Linguini & Clams and Fresh Mahi Mahi at Breakwater Restaurant. Or sample some great Santa Barbara wines like a Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, and a Syrah at wine bar Fox Wine Co.

Sarasota, FL

  • Population: 54,425
  • Home Price: $190,500 median purchase price; $951 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 13% of U.S. cities

With gorgeous weather and some of the best beaches in Florida, Sarasota is a no-brainer when it comes to living near the ocean! Sarasota is well-known for its 35 miles of white sand beaches and incredible Keys, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun and get out on the water here! This Gulf Coast city’s outdoor recreation—along with its 30+ golf courses, no state income tax, and affordable housing—makes it one of the best places to retire in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean young professionals and families won’t find something to love! Nine Fortune 500 companies, including Grainger and Universal Health Services, have offices in Sarasota, and tourism and healthcare are two of the biggest industries in the city.

Things to Do in Sarasota

Wander through an impressive collection of local plants and specialty exhibits like Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature right on Sarasota Bay at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Catch some sun while swimming at Lido Beach. Get tickets for live jazz shows like the Sarasota Jazz Festival at the Jazz Club of Sarasota. Bring the kids to see the city’s famous liger at the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Marvel at the unique wonders of the local circus or take a flying trapeze class at the The Circus Arts Conservatory. Take a day trip to water-locked St. Armands Key to shop for speciality gifts, jewelry, and accessories at St. Armand Circle. Start your day with a Latte or a Cold Brew and Ricotta Toast at Breaking Wave Coffee. Get your seafood fix with Alaskan Halibut, European Dover Sole, or Atlantic Golden Tile Fish at Crab & Fin. Enjoy seafood in Sarasota right off the water while dining on a Soft Shell Crab Sandwich, New England Clam Chowder, or Cod Bites at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill. Or fill up on sweet treats like a Cinnamon Sugar Cake Donut, Chocolate Croissant, or Strawberry Iced Donut at Five-O Donut Co.

Seaside, OR

  • Population: 6,514
  • Home Price: $258,100 median purchase price; $888 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 34% of U.S. cities

Want to live near the ocean in the Pacific Northwest? Seaside is one of the best cities for coastal living! This small Oregon town offers great views of the Pacific Ocean and easy beach access—plus, it’s only 15 minutes away from Cannon Beach, another one of Oregon’s best beaches! Not to mention, Seaside is surrounded by incredible outdoor recreation spots like Tillamook Head and Ecola State Park. Seaside also has a growing job market, and residents can find great opportunities in agriculture, mining, construction, healthcare, and other industries. If you don’t mind overcast skies from time to time and winter lows averaging around 40 degrees, then Seaside may just be the quiet, affordable home in the PNW you’ve been looking for!

Things to Do in Seaside

Hang out with the barking seals, learn about rare underwater life forms, and feel starfish in the touch tank at Seaside Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast. Go swimming, build a sandcastle, and watch the sunset at Seaside Beach. Hike up a cliff overlooking the ocean and marvel at the natural areas on the Tillamook Head Traverse Hike at Ecola State Park. Try your hand at kayaking down the Necanicum River. Order delicious breakfast dishes like the French Toast Breakfast, Garden Omelette, or Avocado Toast at Osprey Cafe. Fill up on Panang Curry, Fried Tofu, or a Mango Salad at Thai Me Up. Enjoy Smoked Salmon Mac & Cheese, a Smoked Salmon Cheese Panini Melt, or Smoked Salmon Chowder at Salmon River Smokehouse. Or spend an evening watching a movie while feasting on Chili or Mac & Cheese and drinking Sisu Beers like the Lemon Lager at half-theater-half-brewery Times Theatre & Public House.


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City statistics from AreaVibes


About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.