A retirement home with water views doesn’t come cheap in any part of the country. But there are a few places where you can retire near a lake, river or bay and not bust your retirement budget. These places have plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming and other outdoor recreational activities. Yet these retirement spots also have reasonable housing prices, an affordable cost of living and other amenities retirees need, such as access to health care, according to a U.S. News analysis of Census Bureau data. Check out these affordable places to retire on the water.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Located along the Mississippi River, the Minneapolis and St. Paul region is surrounded by lakes. The Minneapolis Parks System boasts 22 lakes with beaches, boat launches and fishing piers. The Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway connects the area’s extensive park system via roads and walking and biking trails. The cold winters allow for hockey and ice fishing, and the warmer months bring waterfalls and lakeside picnics. The median monthly housing cost is $1,694 among homeowners with a mortgage and $1,052 for renters. Minneapolis is also a college town that brings over 50,000 students to the University of Minnesota each school year, and retirees may be eligible to audit courses for free.
Living in a large city by the ocean doesn’t come cheap, but housing can be affordable in some parts of the Miami metro region. The median home price in this Atlantic coastal city is $1,774 per month for a house with a mortgage and $1,295 monthly to rent. Miami provides a wide variety of beach experiences, from the undeveloped Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park to flashy South Beach. Senior citizens and Social Security beneficiaries are eligible to ride Miami-Dade transit for free, which helps to keep costs low. This tropical city located at the southern tip of Florida has mild winters that make it easy to enjoy the beach year-round.
Tampa’s reasonable housing prices have long drawn retirees to the area. The median housing cost is $1,419 per month for a house with a mortgage or $1,070 monthly to rent. This western Florida city is located along the Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is a city of high rises and several skyscrapers as well as a beach destination for retirees and tourists. The Port of Tampa has several cruise ship terminals, which makes it easy to get out on the water and explore multiple destinations. The city also has a Gasparilla Pirate Festival in which mock pirates invade Tampa Bay and launch a series of parades and festivities.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Located on the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and several rivers and lakes, Virginia Beach is nearly surrounded by water. The area’s many resorts cater to vacationers, but the reasonable housing costs could allow retirees to stay year-round. A home with a mortgage costs a median of $1,688 per month, which drops to $1,154 monthly if you rent. Beach sports are popular, and the city hosts a surfing championship and a beach soccer tournament. You can also visit First Landing State Park, where English colonists arrived in 1607, or try freshwater or surf fishing at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Florida’s most populous city is among the fastest growing places in the U.S. and has attracted 90,000 new residents over the past decade. Jacksonville is located along the Atlantic Ocean and has 22 miles of sandy beaches on the coast. The Jacksonville Beach Pier stretches out nearly a quarter mile past the shore. The St. Johns River runs through the center of the city, which allows for boating and freshwater fishing. Owning a home in Jacksonville costs a median of $1,427 per month with a mortgage, or you could rent for a median of $1,059 monthly.
Orlando‘s theme parks, convention centers and resorts draw visitors from around the world. The mild winters, entertainment options and low cost of living also draw retirees to the area. However, if you look beyond the tourist attractions, Orlando is an inland Florida city that is speckled with lakes. It can be surprisingly affordable to retire by a lake in Orlando. Owning a home with a mortgage costs a median of $1,457 per month, and the median rent is $1,161 per month. You can also easily drive to the Atlantic or Gulf coast of Florida in an hour or two.
Melbourne is located on the east coast of Florida and has 33 miles of coastline. The Indian River Lagoon separates the city from a barrier island. Melbourne’s various beaches allow for swimming and relaxing or more adventurous water sports such as jet skiing, surf lessons or a guided kayak tour. Melbourne has an affordable cost of living, and you can own a home near the beach for a median of just $1,324 per month with a mortgage. Renters pay a median of $1,018 monthly to live in Melbourne. Often referred to as the Space Coast, Melbourne locals can view important launches at the nearby Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The local area code is 3-2-1 in reference to the countdown to liftoff.
While not your typical beach destination, Chicago is located along the shore of the gigantic Lake Michigan. The third most-populous city in the U.S offers plenty of big city amenities. Yet housing costs less in Chicago than in similarly sized coastal cities. A home with a mortgage costs a median of $1,861 per month, but you can rent for a median of just $1,092 monthly. Chicago is fortunate to have two hospitals, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Rush University Medical Center, that both made the U.S. News Best Hospitals honor roll.
Cape Coral, Florida
Waterfront property is easy to come by in Cape Coral, where there are over 400 miles of canals. This western Florida city provides multiple opportunities for boating on the extensive canal system, Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf of Mexico. Retirees pay a median of $1,416 per month for a house with a mortgage. The median rent is $1,093 monthly. There’s also no state income tax in Florida, which helps to keep costs low.
Sarasota’s reasonable housing costs make it easy to live near the beach on a budget. The median housing expense is $1,481 per month among homeowners with a mortgage and $1,152 monthly for renters. Sarasota is located on the Sarasota Bay near the Gulf of Mexico. Sarasota’s beaches, which include Siesta Key and Lido Key, are known for their unusually soft, powdery sand. You might encounter a dolphin or manatee while boating or paddle boarding on the Sarasota Bay, or you could take a relaxing sunset cruise.
10 affordable places to retire on the water:
— Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
— Tampa, Florida.
— Virginia Beach, Virginia.
— Jacksonville, Florida.
— Orlando, Florida.
— Melbourne, Florida.
— Cape Coral, Florida.
— Sarasota, Florida.
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Update 05/24/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.