The Best Places to Live By the Beach in the U.S.

Where to move for sun and sand.

For people who aren’t big fans of frigid winters or sweltering summers, climate may be a deciding factor in where to live — with some narrowing the possibilities even further because they can’t resist the call of the ocean. Out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., we looked at coastal spots where locals love spending time on the beach. These 20 places are ranked according to the order they appear on the overall Best Places to Live in 2022-2023 list, which factors in each area’s affordability, job market, morning commute and access to quality health care, among other details.

20. Miami

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 137

Metro Population: 6,129,858

Median Home Price: $247,112

Average Annual Salary: $52,970

Beach cities in the U.S. can’t be mentioned without a nod to Miami. The South Florida hot spot is the seventh-most populous metro area in the U.S., and its beaches attract vacationers year-round. However, living in Miami comes with a high price. It takes more than 30% of the area’s median annual household income to cover living costs, including mortgage payments, rent, property taxes and utilities. Miami is the second-most expensive place to live on the Best Places to Live list, following Los Angeles.

19. Corpus Christi, Texas

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 133

Metro Population: 429,120

Median Home Value: $218,127*

Average Annual Salary: $45,870

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi brings plenty of tourists who venture out to Padre and Mustang islands, which create the outer coastline near Corpus Christi. With the beaches and nearby islands attracting many vacationers, the tourism and hospitality industries are a major part of the local economy. But the metro area isn’t all about tourism, as the largest employer is the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, where naval pilot training and other duties take place.

(*The median home price for Corpus Christi was not available, so median home value is listed.)

18. Los Angeles

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 128

Metro Population: 18,657,022

Median Home Price: $527,276

Average Annual Salary: $61,013

Los Angeles attracts many people for reasons other than beach access, but its proximity to the coast and warm, sunny weather year-round certainly helps. Some parts of Los Angeles, like Venice, do touch the Pacific Ocean, though other cities in the metro area are better known for their relation to the sea — Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and Redondo Beach are just a few. While parts of inner Los Angeles are known for their stifling temperatures in summer, the areas along the beach benefit from the cooler breeze coming off the ocean.

17. Santa Barbara, California

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 126

Metro Population: 444,895

Median Home Price: $464,954

Average Annual Salary: $59,500

You may like the climate of Southern California, but the crowds in Los Angeles may not be for you. Santa Barbara is just a little way up the coast from LA, offering plenty of seaside options to live and relax without the same crowds. With the Los Padres National Forest located directly north, the Santa Barbara area remains relatively small, making getting around easier if you also work nearby. Many do, as Santa Barbara residents spend an average of 20.6 minutes on their morning commute

16. Salisbury, Maryland

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 95

Metro Population: 404,417

Median Home Price: $244,000

Average Annual Salary: $44,020

While the city of Salisbury is in the middle of Maryland’s eastern peninsula, the metropolitan statistical area, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes popular beach destinations like Ocean City, Maryland; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; and Bethany Beach, Delaware. These spots are popular during the warm months of the year, particularly among residents of other areas of the mid-Atlantic who visit for a few days and rent a beach house. For those looking to stay year-round, Salisbury University, Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Perdue Farms are major employers in the metro area.

15. San Diego

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 97

Metro Population: 3,316,073

Median Home Price: $835,207

Average Annual Salary: $60,230

It’s hard to find someone who lives in San Diego and doesn’t love the beach. That’s why companies in a range of industries benefit from this Southern California metro area’s proximity to the beach, attracting skilled employees who like the idea of year-round warm weather and plenty of sand. While tourism is a major industry in the area that took a hit in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, so are technology, military, health care and research. The average annual salary for the area, at $60,230, is also well above the national average of $53,490.

14. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Best Places 2020-2021 Rank: 105

Metro Population: 1,761,729

Median Home Price: $301,245

Average Annual Salary: $49,620

If seaside life in the mid-Atlantic is more your speed, Virginia Beach may be the right place for you. The area has a healthy tourism industry, with plenty of resorts and public beaches, but many full-time residents are attracted to the area for the ample job opportunities. The metro area is home to the regional headquarters of Dollar Tree and Norfolk Southern, but NASA’s Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base are also located in the Hampton Roads region.

13. Savannah, Georgia

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 102

Metro Population: 390,211

Median Home Price: $215,350

Average Annual Salary: $47,510

Life in the Savannah metro area gives you access to a historic city located on the Savannah River, with the added benefit of being in reach of islands just a short drive (or boat ride) away. The most popular public beaches in the Savannah metro area are on Tybee Island, and other nearby destinations include the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge and Ossabaw Wildlife Management Area on Ossabaw Island. Plus, Hilton Head Island is roughly a 45-minute drive over the border into South Carolina.

12. Fort Myers, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 100

Metro Population: 756,570

Median Home Price: $405,336

Average Annual Salary: $47,340

Fort Myers is located just inland from the coast along the Caloosahatchee River, but a 40-minute drive within the metro area will deliver you to the resort town of Fort Myers Beach, located on Estero Island. Within the metro area you’ll also find Cape Coral, a city best known for its canals throughout residential neighborhoods. Fort Myers is fourth on the list following only Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Lakeland, Florida; and Sarasota, Florida, in the speed at which the population is growing. The Fort Myers metro area grew by 11.32% between 2016 and 2021 due to net migration.

11. Honolulu

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 96

Metro Population: 979,682

Median Home Price: $581,658

Average Annual Salary: $60,680

Any mention of Hawaii will have most people thinking about the beach. Honolulu ranks as the No. 2 most desirable place to live in the U.S. for 2022-2023, after Colorado Springs, Colorado, based on a SurveyMonkey survey of approximately 3,500 U.S. residents who were asked where they would like to live if given the choice. Hawaii’s tropical islands are widely regarded as vacation destinations, so it’s no wonder that the tourism industry employs many Honolulu residents, as do the health care and defense industries

10. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 78

Metro Population: 481,334

Median Home Price: $233,133

Average Annual Salary: $46,670

Also on the eastern coast of Florida, the city of Port St. Lucie doesn’t have beachfront, but Hutchinson Island within the metro area attracts tourists to its beaches — and many of them appear to be more than happy to stay nearby long term. This relatively small metro area of just 481,334 people grew by 10.34% between 2016 and 2021 due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A growing population due to net migration is common in beach cities throughout the U.S. The average annual salary for residents is $46,670, below the national average of $56,310.

9. Daytona Beach, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 68

Metro Population: 658,961

Median Home Price: $339,137

Average Annual Salary: $43,100

Daytona Beach isn’t just a popular destination for NASCAR fans. It’s also home to many retirees, which contributes to the metro area’s median age of 47.5 years. Daytona Beach is a pricey place to live, however, with residents spending 26.23% of the median annual household income on housing costs. Still, buying a home in Daytona Beach may be easier than in other parts of the U.S. The median home price of $339,137 is below the national median price of $365,616, according to Zillow data.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 49

Metro Population: 790,955

Median Home Price: $448,646

Average Annual Salary: $50,810

Charleston is most recognized for its historic cobblestone streets and colorful downtown, but the metro area is also home to islands filled with beach houses and resorts, including Kiawah Island, Folly Island and Sullivan’s Island. The Charleston charm and warm weather leave many feeling like Chucktown would be an ideal place to live — and data backs that up. Between 2016 and 2021, Charleston’s net migration increased the metro area’s population by 5.63%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

7. Pensacola, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 44

Metro Population: 496,278

Median Home Price: $200,800

Average Annual Salary: $45,170

Located in the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola attracts tourists and new residents alike with its white-sand beaches. Like some other coastal metros, Pensacola is home to many military members and defense companies with ties to the Naval Air Station Pensacola. While Pensacola may not draw the same influx of new residents as other parts of Florida, it continues to grow significantly. The Pensacola area grew by 5.48% between 2016 and 2021 due to net migration.

6. Tampa, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 39

Metro Population: 3,152,928

Median Home Price: $369,928

Average Annual Salary: $51,770

The Tampa metro area includes popular vacation destinations in cities along Tampa Bay, namely Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. While the tourism industry is certainly a huge source of employment, the University of South Florida, MacDill Air Force Base and Publix Super Markets are also major employers in the metro area. Tampa’s high school students rank 23rd among those in the 150 metro areas on the list for college readiness, based on data from the U.S. News Best High Schools ranking.

5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 37

Metro Population: 481,489

Median Home Price: $198,600

Average Annual Salary: $39,250

Near where the South Carolina coast meets North Carolina, Myrtle Beach serves as a popular beach destination with more of a small-town atmosphere, as just 481,489 residents call the metro area home. That vibe may not last long, however. Myrtle Beach grew by 17.72% between 2016 and 2021 due to net migration, making it the fastest-growing metro area by population out of the 150 metros in the Best Places to Live ranking.

4. Jacksonville, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 24

Metro Population: 1,533,796

Median Home Price: $348,852

Average Annual Salary: $49,940

Jacksonville doesn’t just have ocean access. The metro area is also home to the point where the St. Johns River, which runs 310 miles south and is the longest river in Florida, meets the Atlantic, with plenty of smaller rivers and creeks stemming from the larger water source. Jacksonville isn’t a cheap place to live but it’s still more affordable than some other seaside Florida metro areas, as residents spend 25.08% of the median household income on the cost of living.

3. Melbourne, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 20

Metro Population: 594,001

Median Home Price: $217,400

Average Annual Salary: $51,740

Along with year-round warm weather and ample public beaches, the Melbourne metro area is home to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. If you’re interested in playing a bigger role than just watching rockets launch into space, plenty of aerospace employers as well as other large companies in the health care and manufacturing fields are located in this Florida metro area along the Atlantic coast. Residents in Melbourne spend 24.17% of the area’s median household income on housing costs

2. Naples, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 12

Metro Population: 379,345

Median Home Price: $345,000

Average Annual Salary: $50,040

Naples ranks highly among the Best Places to Live in 2022-2023 for its rapid population growth, and for the fact that it’s ranked the sixth-most desirable place to live out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. Additionally, Naples ranks No. 1 for its low rates of property crime, violent crime and murder, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

1. Sarasota, Florida

Best Places 2022-2023 Rank: 9

Metro Population: 821,613

Median Home Price: $387,630

Average Annual Salary: $48,180

Ranking No. 1 on the Best Places to Retire list, Sarasota comes in at No. 9 in the overall Best Places to Live ranking. With a median age of nearly 53 years, Sarasota is home to many retirees. Many local homeowners enjoy abundant waterfront access with homes that line Sarasota Bay, while many more can visit the beaches stretching along Siesta Key and Longboat Key — two narrow islands between the mainland and the Gulf of Mexico.

The best places in the U.S. to live by the beach are:

— Sarasota, Florida.

— Naples, Florida.

— Melbourne, Florida.

— Jacksonville, Florida.

— Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

— Tampa, Florida.

— Pensacola, Florida.

— Charleston, South Carolina.

— Daytona Beach, Florida.

— Port St. Lucie, Florida.

— Honolulu.

— Fort Myers, Florida.

— Savannah, Georgia.

— Virginia Beach, Virginia.

— San Diego.

— Salisbury, Maryland.

— Santa Barbara, California.

— Los Angeles.

— Corpus Christi, Texas.

— Miami.

More from U.S. News

The 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023

The 25 Fastest-Growing Places in the U.S.

The 25 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2022-2023

The Best Places to Live By the Beach in the U.S. originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/23/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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