5 cool beach towns where you can buy a house for $250,000 or less


Vieques, Puerto Rico.

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As mortgage interest rates continue to rise, home affordability is increasingly becoming a challenge for buyers. (You can see the lowest rates you might qualify for here.) The good news? We’ve found some cool beach towns across America where you can still buy a home for less than $250,000. Though, of course, you need to factor in issues like risk of flooding and hurricanes and high homeowners insurance costs in many beach towns. 

If you want a weekend home near New York: Villas, New Jersey

Located on the southern tip of New Jersey where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Villas has the feeling of a rural town while still offering plenty of access to the beach.The town itself has attractions including the Cox Hall Creek WMA, a nature preserve with ample hiking trails, and Miami Beach, which is a nice spot to watch the sunset. Plus, it’s just under three hours from New York City. 

Just nine miles east from the town is Wildwood, which is located on the Jersey Shore and houses a 38-block boardwalk with rides and roller coasters, along with access to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Expect traditional pub food in Villas at restaurants like Jake’s Bar & Grill and Castaway Café, with more options for fine dining eight miles south in Cape May. A budget of $250,000 will give you a lot of options in Villas, including this recently renovated 600 square-foot, two-bedroom home, and this cozy house with a nice yard that is just over three blocks away from New Jersey’s Miami Beach. 

Median home value: $314,295
Cost of Living:
10.5% lower than the U.S. average
Sources: Zillow; Sperling’s Best Places

If you want a quaint seaside experience: Apalachicola, Florida

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Apalachicola is a small town nestled amongst a system of estuaries on the Florida Panhandle. The town prides itself on its historic district, which features over 900 historic homes dating from the 1830s, as well as a plethora of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and music venues. Spend your days lounging on the white sand beaches on St. George Island, which is the barrier island that protects Apalachicola from the Gulf, or take a boat out in the freshwater rivers surrounding the city for fishing and birdwatching. Sample local shrimp and oysters at the Station Raw Bar in the historic district before heading to the Olde Time Soda Fountain for an ice cream served in an original 1950s interior. Buy a three-bedroom house with a back deck or two-bedroom house in need of repair for far below the $250,000 budget. As with most areas in the Gulf, Apalachicola is prone to hurricanes, and suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Median home value: $250,728
Cost of Living:
13.9% lower than the U.S. average

You can see the lowest mortgage rates you might qualify for here.

If you want southern hospitality: Pascagoula, Mississippi

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The birthplace of singer Jimmy Buffett, this city, which is located on the Gulf coast about twenty miles east of Biloxi — and about halfway between Pensacola and New Orleans — houses a bustling shipping industry, as well as Chevron’s largest U.S. oil refinery, and a Rolls Royce facility. Enjoy fishing and swimming at the Pascagoula Beach Park, or ride your bike down the Pascagoula Historic Bike Trail, which will take you to see the Round Island Lighthouse and the city’s many historic homes, including the place where Jimmy Buffett lived as an infant. Enjoy locally caught seafood at Bozo’s Seafood Market and the Fat and Happy Oyster House. For less than your budget, you’ll have plenty of options, including this large three-bedroom brick home with a wooden storage shed, or a five-bedroom home in a family oriented neighborhood. Get ready for very hot, very humid summers, as well as an active hurricane season.

If you want literal paradise: Median home value: $119,909
Cost of Living:
21.1% lower than the U.S. average

If you want chill beaches and a far-flung feel: Vieques, Puerto Rico

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Located off the coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques is home to impossibly gorgeous white sand beaches, hidden coves, wild horses and Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. You’ll really feel like you’ve stepped into paradise once you arrive, either by plane or boat, from the mainland of Puerto Rico. The island offers myriad beaches, and you can enjoy horseback riding or having a cocktail on the rooftop of El Blok, a latticed concrete architectural marvel just steps from the beach. Enjoy local seafood and traditional Puerto Rican fare at restaurants such as La Gran Parada and El Resuelve. A budget of $250,000 will buy you a three-bedroom concrete house with distant views of the ocean, or this charming one-bedroom home just a few short blocks from the beach. Be prepared to pay more for basic necessities such as groceries due to the island’s remote location, and be aware that certain beaches are still inaccessible to the public due to the fact that Vieques was used by the United States military as a live munitions target practice for over 60 years.

Median home value: $235,000
Population: 8,249
Cost of Living: 6.22% lower than the U.S. average (for all of Puerto Rico)

If you want a piece of Texas: Port Isabel, Texas

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Just north of the border between the United States and Mexico, Port Isabel is located at the end of the causeway that leads to South Padre Island, the only tropical island in the state of Texas. The town has plenty of access to white sand beaches on the Gulf, as well as the lagoons, wildlife refuges and canals that make up the geography of the area. For less than $300,000, you can buy a waterfront home on one of the town’s many deep-water canals, including this one-bedroom with a spacious covered patio, and this recently updated one-bedroom. Along with golf courses, beaches, boating activities and waterfront restaurants, the town also offers a historic lighthouse, as well as a flea market and a history museum. Enjoy delicious local seafood at Los Tortugo’s Seafood Market and Joe’s Oyster Bar but beware that the area is prone to hurricanes. 

Median home value: $238,724
Population: 5,094
Cost of Living: 24.5% lower than the national average

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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