Perhaps Eureka, CA drew your interest as a reasonably priced place to live on the coast. You love the beach, the Victorian architecture, and the northern California climate. Who wouldn’t adore temperatures that ranged between the mid-40s and mid-70s year around?
You might have concerns about the crime rate though. In the US, 85 percent of the rest of the country provides a safer spot for you to tuck away.
Houses cost half of what they do in the rest of California in Eureka. In California, the median home cost of $684,800 keeps homeownership out of reach for many, but Eureka offers a comparatively affordable median home cost of $362,600.
Despite its low cost of living standard and cheap housing, this small city experiences a pervasive homeless population problem. In a city with a population of 26,938 in 2020, 730 residents reported living as unsheltered homeless in Eureka, CA. That accounts for more than half of the 1,319 homeless in Humboldt County, the county in which Eureka resides.
At the small city’s center stands one of the country’s most famous mansions, Carson Mansion. Amidst redwood forests and waves of the Pacific lapping its shore, this bucolic scene’s high crime rate stems from its poorest population’s fight for survival.
Although it offers a brisk tourist season and year around culture revolving around the creative arts and artisans’ shops, visitors to the city always notice its homeless problem. The city’s south side proves the safest from crime, but you might want a safer place to live that has taken care of its homeless problem by helping its residents thrive.
You can choose from a multitude of US cities that leave out the high crime rate and homeless problem but also offer historical architecture in a coastal environment within a bucolic small town. Although many towns’ real estate prices out much of the population, you can easily find beach communities in the US with low crime rates and affordable housing.
1. Melbourne, Florida
If you don’t mind a city four times the size of Eureka, try Melbourne, FL. With a population of 82,281 in 2020 and a racial composition of 80 percent Caucasian, about nine percent African-American, and roughly four percent Asian, the city doesn’t win any diversity prizes, but you can easily drive to nearby Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, or Kissimmee for cultural events or dining out. The average home price in this east coast community hovers at the low 240Ks – $243,649 in 2022.
The tradeoffs to living in this surfer’s paradise include the occasional hurricane, mosquitoes the size of small birds, and the occasional influx of tourists. The city lies south of Orlando and outside of the tourist season, its beaches remain quiet and unoccupied except for a tropical breeze. This small city offers a few yoga centers, spas, and nightlife.
2. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Nab a condo in Fort Walton Beach for a vacation home or a year-round home. The average home costs $220,915 in this beachfront community. The ocean waves on this part of the Florida coast appear white when they roll onto shore.
Similar to Eureka, a few craft breweries call this area home, including the relatively well-known Props Craft Brewery. A frequent host of food festivals, this town also offers the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where you can explore dolphins, alligators, and whales at a safe distance. Of course, boating also proves popular in this area.
3. Biloxi, Mississippi
Lest you think this article might be an ad for Florida, we also recommend Mississippi, where you can grab up a home in the beach town of Biloxi, Mississippi for an average price of $148,678. The stalwart landmark, The Biloxi Lighthouse, has survived many of the Deep South’s historical events, including Hurricane Katrina.
As cheap as its living standard is, the city offers plenty to do and see, including the Mardi Gras Museum, Ship Island dolphin sightings, boating, and beach activities. You don’t lose the small-town feel either, although, at a population of 46,680 residents, you’ll live in a town twice the size of Eureka.
4. Freeport, Texas
Living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico offers a culturally diverse population and a cost of living of 87.8 percent of the US cost of living standard. This ethnically diverse town consists of about 65 percent Hispanic, 17.5 percent Caucasian, 14.5 percent African-American, 3.4 percent Native American, about one percent Asian, and one percent mixed-race individuals. The average home price of this picturesque small town of about 12,136 residents hovers at just about $100K at $107,235.
Explore Jetty Park and Surfside Beach for some outdoorsy fun or the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Charter a boat to go snorkeling or scuba diving in the Gulf or for a fishing trip in international waters. You can also kayak, paddleboat, and surf the coastal waters.
5. Fort Pierce, Florida
Another option for a small beachfront town, Fort Pierce, FL, offers about twice the population of Eureka at 45,855 residents. It offers a tiny average home price of $164,306. Nicknamed Sunrise City, this bucolic burg on Florida’s Treasure Coast offers old-fashioned Southern fun like the Jazz Market, Farmers Market, Friday Fest, and Bike Night, plus modern shopping and dining.
This small city offers a lot to tourists, so prepare yourself for the summer influx. Home to world-class fishing, the Indian River, and The Manatee Observation and Education Center, it earns its share of visitors. Other things to do include Heathcote Botanical Gardens, Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery, Sunrise Theatre, and Fort Pierce Inlet State Park.
6. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
You might choose a slightly smaller town than picturesque Eureka by moving to little Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This Gulf Coast community of 17,756 residents offers a family-friendly scenic home. With an average home price of $163,948, it provides affordable beach living.
Although a small city, it offers a plethora of fun activities, including the scenic drive of Front Beach, Ocean Springs Beach for essential beach fun, the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Those who love art and history can explore this small town’s numerous museums – The Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs Museum of History, and The GI Museum.
7. Port Arthur, Texas
It’s a whole other country in Texas, the state’s residents claim. When you learn that the average home price in Freeport, Texas sits at $63,917, you believe them. Most of the US costs much more than that to buy a home, but as the “port” in its name suggests, this lovely waterfront town offers both a marina and beaches.
While a natural port, it offers the manmade Pleasure Island for fun and exploration of the Gulf. This area of the US remains warm all year. With a bit more than double the population of Eureka, you still get the small city feel with just a little more bustle from its 54,705 residents.
The birthplace and hometown of musician Janis Joplin, it offers outdoorsy things to do like Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Lake, fishing charters, and bird watching. Museum lovers can explore the Museum of the Gulf.
8. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Known for its delicious seafood, especially the oysters, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi also offers an average home price of $137,897. This quaint town design boasts beach biking boulevards, jogging trails, and skating passages. Explore its museums and enjoy life in this cozy, Southern town that oozes charm.
About half the population of Eureka, its 13, 539 residents, comprise an educated populace. More than one-third of this tiny town earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the US Census. That might explain the many museums located there, including the L & N Historic Train Depot, Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum, and Antique Maison.
Enjoy a night of the arts by attending either Bay St. Louis Little Theater or 100 Men Hall. This small coastal town also hosts the Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and the Silver Slipper Casino Hotel.
9. Helen, Georgia
Although it boasts no coast, the idyllic Bavarian-style burg of Helen, GA, offers something no other town in the US does. It duplicates the European vibe of Germany, so you feel as if you traveled to Europe when you’re actually a reasonable drive (90 miles) away from Atlanta. Want to catch a Braves game after a lunch of knockwurst? Sandwich that between visiting the Alpine Railway Museum and Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen.
You’ll trade the coastal vibe for the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, but at the affordable average home price of $249,000, according to Realtor. That figure includes a lot of raw land though, but that means you could purchase a plot of land for between $5,000 and $10,000 and build your own home.
While you don’t have to use the Bavarian local architecture as your inspiration, your home will blend in with the neighbors if you do. This tiny town of just 546 residents has room to grow. You can enjoy much more than shopping and German food. Explore the area’s hiking, fishing, Anna Ruby Falls, Rave Cliff Falls, and tube or float the Chattahoochee River for fun.
10. Ithaca, New York
Here’s one more exception to coastal living, but you still get to live on the water. The average home in Ithaca costs $294,100 and you get to live on gorgeous Lake Cayuga. Your real estate investment will likely do well, too, since in the past decade, homes in this town appreciated by 37.1 percent. That means if you purchased your home for $100,000, it’s probably worth $137,000 now. Folks love living in Ithaca.
Similar in size to Eureka, this picturesque mid-sized town boasts 30,715 residents. In upstate New York, nestled in the Finger Lakes region, besides the lake, the town offers waterfalls and gorges to explore. It’s a one-hour flight or four-hour drive to New York City, so it offers the ideal location for a summer home.
The town hosts a few festivals each year and one local church holds “Sundae Sundays” to honor the fact that this little town gave birth to the ice cream sundae. Enjoy Cornell Botanic Gardens, Cascadilla Falls, Southwest Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and Robert H. Treman State Park.