If you’re craving a view of the sea — waves crashing into pristine white sand, palms rustling in the breeze — in most places you’ll pay for that, often upwards of $1 million. But it doesn’t have to be that way: There are beachfront condominiums and apartments, in which you can snag apartments for $250,000 or less (see the lowest mortgage rates you may qualify for now here), Just note: Beachfront property may come with other high costs, like insurance premiums. Here are five spots to consider.
For the entertainment lover: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City is currently going through one of the many transitions that have characterized its history since it was established as a health resort in the mid–19th century. About an hour’s drive to Philadelphia and two hours by car or 2½ by train to New York City, and located directly on the Atlantic Ocean, this town offers plenty of options for gambling, restaurants and nightlife. Currently, you can find a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo unit for sale on the historic boardwalk for around $200,000, and some two-bedrooms are under $250,000. Atlantic City is still affordable, in part due to relatively high crime rates, and a still ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy. However, it has four miles of oceanfront boardwalk, along with nine casinos that draw big talent including Beyoncé and Bob Dylan, and restaurants by celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsey.
For the golfer: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The hub of the area known as the Grand Strand, which is a 60-mile stretch of beaches along South Carolina’s Atlantic coastline, Myrtle Beach has plenty of attractions, including a boardwalk and the SkyWheel, one of the East Coast’s tallest Ferris wheels. But perhaps the top draw of the area are the golf courses — the area has around 90 of them, some designed by golf greats Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman. While oceanfront real estate in luxury buildings can cost over $1 million per unit, and stand-alone homes upwards of $2 million, there are still plenty of beautiful and affordable oceanfront condominium units to be snatched up for less than $250,000. Some of these properties are housed in resorts with restaurants and indoor/outdoor pool complexes. Added perk: Myrtle Beach has great seafood and barbecue restaurants, including the Hook & Barrel, a restaurant that is dedicated to serving sustainable food and local produce, as well as plenty of bars.
If you love diving and fishing: Panama City Beach, Florida
Known as home to some of the most beautiful waterfront in the world due to its sugar sand beaches and turquoise waters, Panama City Beach is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida. With its 27 miles of white sand beaches, as well as over 50 artificial coral reefs made from industrial and shipping waste in order to promote the marine ecosystem, the city is great for people who love to spend time diving and fishing. Gulf-front studios and one-bedroom apartments are available for less than $250,000, often in buildings that boast pools. Spend your days swimming with dolphins at Water Planet, and your nights enjoying fresh seafood in your swimsuit at Barefoot on the Beach, a waterfront seafood restaurant with a casual vibe.
For the outdoors lover: Ocean Shores, Washington
Much of the West Coast of the United States is unaffordable if you’re looking to snatch up any sort of space for less than $250,000 — even a tiny apartment. The affordable places are almost all to the north, where the weather is mild but cool in the winter. Ocean Shores is a small coastal city at the mouth of Grays Harbor and approximately 130 miles west of Seattle. Located just north of sister city Westport, Ocean Shores is surrounded by national wildlife preserves including the Ocean City State Park, a haven for migratory birds. In the late 1960s, Ocean Shores was known as the “Richest Little City in America” due to speculation by investors and am influx of Hollywood celebrities. It has since become a quieter retreat with a handful of small oceanfront condo units running less than $250,000. Ocean Shores is ideal for an outdoorsy person who wants to spend his or her days hiking, bird watching and enjoying the occasional craft beer at Elk Head Brewing Co.
For someone looking for plenty to do: Galveston, Texas
Located on an island in Texas’s Gulf Coast, Galveston has plenty of unique attractions including Moody Gardens, which is a resort featuring three gigantic glass pyramids housing exhibitions devoted to nature and science. The complex also houses Palm Beach, a lazy river and wave pool adjacent to one of the Gulf Coast’s white sand beaches. Gulf-front condominium units range widely in price, with deals to be had on smaller studio and one-bedroom spaces in large, resort-style communities. When you’re not in the water, resting by the Gulf or strolling past the oleanders that bloom on Galveston’s historic streets, dine and drink at one of the many restaurants on the Seawall, a bustling avenue overlooking the Gulf. Indeed, Seawall Boulevard is more than 10 miles long and 17 feet high — it’s the longest continuous sidewalk in the country — and offers shopping, restaurants and other attractions.
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