25 of the most affordable waterfront cities in America

If you’re like many Americans, watching majestic sunsets or sunrises, hearing the soothing sound of the ocean and feeling the sand between your toes are all peak experiences. So, why not live by the ocean? The primary problem is simple: Beachfront property is often too expensive.

Or is it? It turns out, America is actually full of cities that can make your dream of living near water come true, at least to some degree – it just may be a river or lake instead of the Pacific or Atlantic.

To narrow down the list, GOBankingRates looked at 112 of the top ocean and lakefront cities in the U.S. based on median listing price, state income and overall affordability, using a variety of metrics. Cities with the highest percentage of leftover income ranked at the top of the survey.

While you won’t find celebrity enclaves like Malibu on the list, you will find a wide range of waterfront cities that still remain affordable.

1. Jamestown, New York

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey

3. Rochester, New York

4. Oswego, New York

5. Erie, Pennsylvania

6. Brainerd, Minnesota

7. New London, Connecticut

8. Hampton, Virginia

9. Buffalo, New York

10. Devils Lake, North Dakota

11. Duluth, Minnesota

12. Toledo, Ohio

13. Aberdeen, Washington

14. Cleveland

15. Alexandria, Minnesota

16. Clearlake, California

17. Ocean City, Maryland

18. Storm Lake, Iowa

19. Brownsville, Texas

20. Port Angeles, Washington

21. Versailles, Missouri

22. Laconia, New Hampshire

23. Baraboo, Wisconsin

24. Coos Bay, Oregon

25. Eureka, California

Methodology: GOBankingRates found 25 affordable waterfront cities by evaluating 112 of the United States’ top ocean and lakefront cities along the following criteria:

  1. Median state income, sourced from the 2017 American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau
  2.  2019 median listing price for all homes, sourced from Zillow’s 2019 data
  3. Annual mortgage cost using Zillow’s mortgage calculator, and assuming a 20% down payment and a 3.56% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage as sourced from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and accurate as of Sept. 12, 2019;
  4. Itemized cost of living index for groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous expenditures, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey. These costs were adjusted to each city’s local cost of living, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Factors three and four were combined to give the
  5. Total annual necessities cost of living, which was then subtracted from factor one to produce the (6) income leftover after annual necessities. Factor six was then converted into (7) percent of income leftover — the determining factor for the final ranking; the higher the percentage of income leftover, the better. All data was collected and up to date as of Sept. 9, 2019. 

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