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June 22, 2015, 6:01 a.m. EDT

Retire Here, Not There: Mississippi

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By Anya Martin

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Biloxi, Miss.

Biloxi

Biloxi offers seaside living with white sand beaches and resort amenities from restaurants to casinos but at bargain prices compared to Florida, Texas and other Southern coastal communities. The combination of affordability and amenities is the biggest draw for retirees, says Albert Allegue, chairman and co-founder of Biloxi-based Pinnacle Real Estate. While some beachview properties may cost $1 million and up, “I don’t know of any other part of the US where you can buy a three-bedroom, two-bath waterfront home on a gulf, lake or bay for less than $195,000,” he adds. The cost of living in Biloxi is 8% lower than the national average, a lot less, for example, than Destin, Fla.where the cost of living runs 20.6% higher than average and a median home costs $272,500.

Lenny Mazurek’s three-bedroom home at Beau View Condos affords him stunning ocean views, but he’s also just a few minutes walk from first-class restaurants, casinos and shopping at Edgewater Mall. When he first moved to Mississippi in 2000, he lived further west in Pass Christian which was a bit quiet, he says, but here in Biloxi, there’s always something fun to do from concerts and plays to festivals celebrating everything from music to art, shrimp to barbecue almost every weekend in Biloxi or neighboring towns like Gulfport. “People are extremely friendly, and there’s lots of fresh seafood,” Mazurek adds.

Mazurek found it tough to see all the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but a decade later, he’s happy to see Biloxi has come back so vibrantly, he says. The city even just got its own minor league baseball team, the Biloxi Shuckers, with a newly built stadium. Many military veterans settle here because of its close proximity to three VA hospitals in Biloxi, Gulf Port and Ocean Springs, but the area has at least a dozen other major health facilities, Allegue says. If retirees run out of things to do in Biloxi, New Orleans is just 90 minutes West and the Florida panhandle starts not far to the east. Two international airports are about a half-hour drive away in Gulf Port and Pascagoula.

By the numbers

  • Population: 44,223

  • Median home cost: $140,600

  • Cost of living: 8.0% lower than average

  • Unemployment: 7.4%

Source: Sperling’s Best Places

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