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Dec. 25, 2021, 11:41 a.m. EST

5 cool beach towns in America where you can buy a house for $275,000 or less

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Brienne Walsh

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Mortgage rates remain very low — some 30-year rates are around 3%, and some 15 year rates are around 2% (see the lowest rates you qualify for here) — and that’s tempting some potential buyers to snap up properties. But prices in plenty of housing markets, particularly those near the beach, are sky high. The good news: You don’t have to have a million dollars in the bank to invest in a beach house. Below, we round up the five places where you can buy a house in a beach town for $275,000 or less.

For the small-town loving nature buff: Westport, Washington

For $250,000, most towns in California are beyond budget range. Travel a little north on the Pacific coast, however, and you can still find deals on houses in beach towns. For example, Westport, which is located at the mouth of Grays Harbor, and offers miles of beaches, and lots of opportunities for fishing, clam digging, crabbing and bird-watching. Nature lovers will enjoy Twin Harbors State Park, a 225-acre camping park on the Pacific Coast, as well as the relatively easy access to Olympic National Forest, which is an under-two-hour drive. Though the town is tiny, it does host plenty of community events, including the annual Cranberry Harvest Cook-out and the Boat Basin Salmon Derby. Seattle is about a two-and-a-half hour drive away. One of the major downsides of the area is that it rains a lot.

Median home value: $251,613 Population: 1,817 Cost of living: 11.6% lower than the U.S. average Sources: Zillow, Sperlings Best Places

If you like to have a good time: Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach, likely best-known as the home of the annual Daytona 500 car race, is a legendarily fun place to hang out (we’ve all heard about the rowdy spring break parties). But the the city is also home to plenty of museums, art galleries, music venues and bars, all of which will keep you occupied on the days you’re not lounging on the white sand beaches. Unlike many cities in Florida, Daytona Beach is still relatively affordable, with the added benefit that the state does not tax income. About an hour from Orlando, Daytona Beach is a great spot if you want to enjoy your beach house year-round — and let loose while you’re doing it. Just be careful — Daytona Beach has a higher than average crime rate compared to other American cities.

Median home value: $219,243 Population: 69,186 Cost of Living: 14.3% lower than the U.S. average

If you like a laid-back Northeastern vibe: Belfast, Maine

Once the home of wealthy shipbuilders who built the ships that crossed the Atlantic in the 19 century, Belfast is still full of their Federal, Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. The magnates also funded beautiful civic architecture, which makes the town a jewel on the Maine coastline. Today, Belfast, which is located on the Passagassawakeag River estuary on Belfast Bay and Penobscot Bay, is popular with tourists who come to view the vestiges of the formerly wealthy place. Houses are still affordable, and perfect if you prefer mild weather in the summer or watching the ocean through a veil of snow in the winter. Belfast has a number of rocky beaches which, even at the height of the summer, are rarely overly crowded. For a little fun, visit the Belfast Curling Club, where you can learn one of the lesser known sports played at the Winter Olympics. Just be prepared to put your shoveling skills to good use when summer is over — Belfast averages 63 inches of snow per year. 

Median home value: $261,627 Population: 6,679 Cost of Living: 8.0% lower than the U.S. average

If you love fishing and boating: Port Lavaca, Texas

Known as a kid-friendly spot with quality saltwater fishing, Port Lavaca offers a number of parks, casinos and restaurants. Residents enjoy the historic Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse, which was built in 1858, and the restored Main Street Theater, which puts on live performances, as well as a museum that celebrates the location’s native Indianola population. But the beaches and saltwater marshes are Port Lavaca’s biggest draw, and are full of birds including brown pelicans, loons and ospreys. The biggest downside? Port Lavaca is prone to hurricanes, and was hit directly by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Median home value: $152,146 Population: 11,854 Cost of Living: 20.5% lower than the U.S. average

For Southern charm: Saint Marys, Georgia

Okay, so it’s not right on the ocean, but we’re still putting St. Marys on our list of beach towns because it offers easy access to a number of world-class beaches. After St. Augustine in Florida, St. Marys, is reportedly the second oldest continually habited town in the United States, and it’s become a quaint and charming seaside town full of historic cottages and casual restaurants. The waterfront hosts plenty of festivals and concerts throughout the year (you can enjoy everything from Mardi Gras to the St. Marys Rock Shrimp Festival in this town), and residents enjoy everything from birdwatching to kayaking. Spend your mornings kayaking or hiking in Crooked River State Park, which is on the Intracoastal Waterway, and features a maritime forest full of fiddler crabs, gopher tortoises and herons. The town serves as a gateway to nearby Cumberland Island, a barrier island with 17 miles of white sand beaches that are inhabited by wild horses — famously, it is also where JFK Jr. married Carolyn Bessette. St. Marys is just a short drive from a number of similarly isolated beaches that are full of wildlife, including Stafford and Dungeness. St. Marys feels very suburban, and is not directly on the ocean, if you’re looking for beachfront views. 

Median home value: $222,702 Population: 18,567 Cost of Living: 17.4% lower than the U.S. average

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