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Retirement means different things to different people. Some prefer to spend it traveling to exciting new locations, while others prefer to relax at home. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? A beach retirement might be the answer.
There are plenty of affordable beach towns across the country for those who have always dreamed of relaxing by the ocean once they've finished their careers. Here are five places you can go to help stretch your dollars and enjoy a great retirement lifestyle.
1. Gulfport, Mississippi
Gulfport is the second largest city in Mississippi, and is home to a population of about 71,000, with 13.5% of residents age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
One of the city's biggest draws is the low cost of living, which is 10% lower than the national average. Housing is pretty affordable, too. The median home value in Gulfport is $118,300 and the median monthly mortgage is $1,144, which is far lower than what you'd expect to pay in more expensive beach communities on the East and West Coasts like San Diego and Cape Cod, according to Coastal Living.
2. Pensacola, Florida
Retirees are attracted to Florida for several reasons — namely the weather and lack of state income tax. If you want to try to stretch your retirement savings, there are several places in Florida you can go, but one of them is Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.
Pensacola was recently ranked one of the top 40 places to live in the country. The city's affordability may be to thank for that — the median home value is $155,700, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city's cost of living is 8% lower than the national average and housing is 27% lower than the national average. Along with the tax savings retirees reap from living in the state, the lower housing costs may help them enjoy a more comfortable retirement.
Seniors make up 15.5% of the population, and the city offers plenty for them to do. Pensacola Beach is considered one of the state's best beaches. The city is also filled with history. Founded in 1559, Pensacola's historic downtown is more than 450 years old, and there are several forts, historical trails and museums to explore.
3. Corpus Christi, Texas
Located in the Gulf Coast, Corpus Christi is a big beach town — the population is over 326,000, according to the U.S Census Bureau. You may be able to get a lot for your money in Corpus Christi. Like Florida, Texas has no state income tax. The median home value is $125,000, which is less expensive than the national median home value ($193,500).
Year-round residents and tourists can both enjoy activities like boating and windsurfing, visiting the Texas State Aquarium and exploring North Padre Island. Or you can kick back at one of the city's many restaurants — whether you like seafood, barbecue or Mexican cuisine.
4. Astoria, Oregon
If you prefer a small town beach retirement, Astoria might be the right fit. This coastal city, which is located on the Columbia River (close to the Pacific Ocean), has a population of just under 10,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
While the West Coast is home to several expensive beach towns in California, Washington and Oregon, Astoria is more affordable. The median home value is just under $245,000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported, and the cost of living is about 3% lower than the national average.
And whether you want to go on a fishing trip, visit a winery, swim in the Pacific or enjoy the arts, you can do it all in this tiny coastal town.
5. Bluffton, South Carolina
Located in South Carolina's historic Lowcountry, Bluffton is just minutes from the better-known Hilton Head Island. Bluffton, which has a population of 23,000, has many local attractions and amenities, including a weekly farmers market, artisan shops and beach-friendly activities like kayaking and fishing.
But despite all these offerings, Bluffton doesn't have the Hilton Head price tag. The city's median home value is $244,000 compared to $454,300 in Hilton Head, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With home values nearly half the price of its pricier South Carolina counterpart and a cost of living 2% below the national average, Bluffton allows retirees to get even more out of their retirement dollars.
Whether you plan to retire in the middle of the country or on one of the coasts, these five beach towns offer many fun ways to stay busy in retirement — without the hefty costs that often come with living in a beautiful locale.