10 Best Beach Towns in California to Buy a House (2023)

Homebuyers venturing out into the post-pandemic sun face an overwhelming housing market. The search for a primary residence has home buying newcomers facing ruthless bidding wars and steep prices. It is common to expect to pay thousands of dollars over the asking price.

But while the primary home market remains unforgiving lately, the vacation home market is experiencing a renaissance as the work-from-home era cements itself in the professional landscape. Now aspiring homebuyers working from home are asking themselves what kind of homes they want to work from.

10 Best Beach Towns in California to Buy a House (1)

This interest has begun driving a record search for beach homes and vacation homes throughout California’s coastal towns. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best beach towns in California to buy a house and work from home.

Santa Monica

The postcard beauty of Santa Monica has long since become the go-to image of the picturesque Los Angeles lifestyle. The upscale beach homes available here would be a dream come true for anyone who can stomach the equally exclusive price points.

Santa Monica is the perfect blend of vacation and work since major city amenities are within a short distance of each other. Downtown Santa Monica is the base for all major movement and entertainment within the city. At the same time, Ocean Park is the slice of paradise where homebuyers seek solace and relaxation by the beach.

Big tech names such as ZipRecruiter and Hulu have offices in Santa Monica, making it an ideal destination for tech professionals, many of whom have transitioned to working exclusively from a home office.

Malibu

A 30-minute drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica will bring homebuyers to Malibu.

(Video) The 21 Most Charming Beach Towns In California

A favorite amongst celebrities, Malibu’s beachfront homes are some of the most coveted in the state. The backdrop of rolling hills and the sandy coast that exposes signature California sunsets make Malibu a top choice amongst home buyers looking to live in California near the beach.

Many of Malibu’s beach houses feature direct access to the beach, significantly driving up their price. But even though the city is a haven for the high-profile elite, it still maintains a low profile, even as it offers some of the best restaurants and bars on the Pacific Coast.

Encinitas

The most popular suburbs of San Diego are anything but quiet cul-de-sacs. Home to the famous Moonlight State Beach, Encinitas rests to the north of Downtown San Diego and is a coveted city for aspiring beach homeowners.

The bonfires at Moonlight Beach draw crowds from all over San Diego, but the beach also offers a wide range of beach sports and recreation. Beach homebuyers can choose which part of Encinitas coastline they want to scout out, with the northern and southernmost parts offering more secluded beaches.

Encinitas is the top choice for buyers looking for tranquility when they come back to their beach home for the holidays or want as little distraction as possible when working from home.

La Jolla

The epicenter of beachfront luxury, La Jolla is arguably the most prized city in San Diego. As a result, homeowners searching for beach homes in La Jolla will find some of the loftiest price tags in California. But the high cost of living is balanced out by breathtaking views and a picturesque city filled with top-notch amenities.

Although it is famous for its extravagance and luxury car dealerships, La Jolla is also sought out for its beauty and mesmerizing beaches. There are stringent laws in place to maintain the nature of the city, which helps keep the beaches in ideal conditions.

(Video) Top 10 Cheapest Beach Towns in the US.

Aside from the natural beauty, La Jolla also features a well known biotech industry, with Pfizer maintaining a 25-acre campus here.

Carlsbad

One of San Diego’s largest suburbs, Carlsbad, is also one of the most popular. Carlsbad defies the conventional image of a suburb, with a vast portion of its economy generated through tourism.

LEGOLAND California is located in Carlsbad, and many top tech companies maintain offices here. It is an ideal location for homebuyers who want the suburbian beach town that also transforms into a bustling city within minutes of travel. Carlsbad beaches are known for their amenities and easy access, with various parks and playgrounds nearby and many beach sports and water activities.

Homeowners who want their beach home to be close to a wide range of entertainment will want to prioritize Carlsbad in their search.

Solana Beach

Another member of San Diego’s elite suburb club, Solana Beach is regularly ranked as one of the city’s best suburbs.

The city is divided by the I-5, splitting Solana Beach into eastern and western sections. The western part is where you’ll find the multitude of beachfront estates and a variety of local bars and restaurants. The east side of town is more residential and features two prominent golf courses.

Fletcher Cove Park is one of Solana Beach’s biggest draws, giving residents a chance to capture some of the most breathtaking views in Southern California.

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Del Mar

Del Mar’s beachfront properties enjoy some of the best sunset views in California. More down to earth in its offerings than its busier neighbors, Del Mar brings homebuyers to scout out prized real estate on majestic bluffs that overlook some of the best beaches in the area.

The Torrey Pines State Beach is Del Mar’s most prominent sandy getaway, but there is an entire coastline of parks and hidden bluffs that are open to exploring. In addition, Del Mar has a lively community scene and a lot of local shops and restaurants.

Del Mar’s biggest attraction is the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which hosts high-profile horse racing events throughout the year. Though the event can draw crowds from all over the state, Del Mar is still the classic example of a laid-back beach town where you can get away from it all.

Newport Beach

The beach towns of Orange County all have a unique lifestyle to offer. Some offer unbeatable surfing spots, others a plethora of outdoor activities and waterfront recreation. Newport Beach stands out with the latter and is considered one of the wealthiest beach towns in Orange County.

Some of the most luxurious beachfront estates are found in Newport Beach. Day-to-day life in one of Orange County’s wealthiest cities revolves around waterfronts and beaches, thanks to its many islands and idyllic boardwalk and pier.

But Newport Beach also stands out as an ideal place for a beach house because of its proximity to San Diego and Los Angeles, which are both around an hour and a half away by car.

Huntington Beach

Even beginner surfers wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to secure a beach house in Huntington Beach. Commonly called Surf City USA, Huntington Beach delivers a traditional surf town lifestyle.

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Surfing is the essence of Huntington Beach, and residents can catch swaths of surfers in the early hours of the day, searching for big waves. Huntington Beach Pier provides a stunning vantage point to glimpse the waters, while the Huntington Beach Bike Trail stretches along the city’s coast and opens up to picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean.

There is no shortage of retail and entertainment options here, and the proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway allows homeowners to drive to cities like Santa Monica and La Jolla.

Laguna Beach

Aside from pristine beaches and dreamy coves, Laguna Beach made a name for itself with its art scene.

The contemporary Laguna Art Museum features over 3,500 works of art and sits on the waterfront. In addition, the Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters are huge draws for the art-minded community and tourists alike.

There are many local dining options and upscale eateries in Laguna Beach, but its biggest draw remains its almost untouched beauty. The Crystal Cove State Park alone features over 2,400 acres with hiking and biking trails throughout.

And with Huntington Beach and Newport Beach drawing most of the peak-season tourist crowds, homebuyers here can enjoy a little more tranquility than in their neighboring cities.

Interested in buying a beach house? Browse listings in your favorite SoCal town and see how you can save with Prevu’s Smart Buyer Rebate.

(Video) WHAT IS THE BEST SMALL BEACH TOWN IN CALIFORNIA?

FAQs

What is the most affordable beach town to live in California? ›

Here's my local perspective and a guide to the 10 most affordable places to live in California near the beach that will make your dream come true.
...
I consent to receiving emails and personalized ads.
  • Ventura. ...
  • San Pedro. ...
  • Eureka. ...
  • Grover Beach. ...
  • Long Beach. ...
  • Oceanside. ...
  • Imperial Beach. ...
  • Oceano.

What is the most affordable beach town to live? ›

Only 5 Beach Towns With 100K+ Residents Have Medians Less Than $150/Sq. Ft
RankNAMEPopulation
1Corpus Christi326,332
1Mobile189,994
2Palm Bay113,751
3Cape Coral189,633
1 more row
4 Aug 2022

Where is the least expensive beachfront property? ›

America's 10 Most Affordable Beach Towns for Homebuyers, 2022 Edition | Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®
...
  • Atlantic City, NJ. Median list price: $161,754. ...
  • Deerfield Beach, FL. ...
  • New London, CT. ...
  • Mastic Beach, NY. ...
  • Myrtle Beach, SC. ...
  • Seal Beach, CA. ...
  • Rockport, TX. ...
  • Lynn, MA.
23 May 2022

Where is the cheapest beachfront property in California? ›

10 Cheapest Beach Towns in California
  • Crescent City. ...
  • Ventura. ...
  • Laguna Beach. ...
  • San Pedro. ...
  • Eureka. ...
  • Oxnard. ...
  • Sam Simeon. ...
  • Arcata.
24 Feb 2022

What is the cheapest place to buy a house in California? ›

Cheapest Places to Live in California
  • Bakersfield. With a median home price of just $254,430, Bakersfield is a surprisingly cheap place to live in California. ...
  • Stockton. The notorious boom and bust town of Stockton, CA continues to offer cheaper house deals. ...
  • Fresno. ...
  • Clovis. ...
  • Sacramento. ...
  • Fontana. ...
  • Chico. ...
  • Eureka.
21 Sept 2022

What is the safest beach in California? ›

Coronado Beach is also the safest beach in California for swimming. Towards the shore, the waves are very gentle, the waters are usually calm and clear that you can easily see what you're stepping on. It also features numerous lifeguard stations, making the area safer.

What are the cleanest beaches in California? ›

California's dirtiest and cleanest beaches of 2022
  • Playa Blanca (Baja California, Mexico)
  • Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
  • Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
  • Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
  • Marina del Rey Mother's Beach, at lifeguard tower (Los Angeles County)
  • Moonstone County Park (Humboldt County)
22 Jun 2022

What is the safest beach town to live in? ›

Best Beach Towns to Live in (Ocean)
Overall RankCitySafety
1Naples, FL103
2Laguna Beach, CA20
3Lahaina, HI17
4Newport Beach, CA25
42 more rows
16 Jun 2021

Where is the cheapest place to retire on the beach? ›

9 Affordable Gulf Coast Beach Towns for Retirement
  • Gulfport, Mississippi. Seven miles of white sandy beach make Gulfport the postcard idea of a beach town. ...
  • Port Arthur, Texas. ...
  • Fort Pierce, Florida. ...
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama. ...
  • Pensacola, Florida. ...
  • Freeport, Texas. ...
  • Dunedin, Florida. ...
  • Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Where in the U.S. can you get the most house for your money? ›

Mississippi

Mississippi has the nation's lowest cost of living and offers the most purchasing power for your dollar. Mississippi's three biggest real estate markets — Jackson, Gulfport and Hattiesburg — have a combined average home price of $191,633. The national median is $275,000, according to GOBankingRates.

What is the most affordable beach town in America? ›

Here are the most affordable beach towns in 2022:
  1. Atlantic City, NJ. Median list price: $161,754.
  2. Deerfield Beach, FL. Median list price: $230,071.
  3. New London, CT. Median list price: $242,392.
  4. Mastic Beach, NY. Median list price: $334,907.
  5. Myrtle Beach, SC. Median list price: $347,875.
  6. Seal Beach, CA. ...
  7. Rockport, TX. ...
  8. Lynn, MA.
10 Jun 2022

Where is it cheapest to live in Southern California? ›

21 Most Affordable Places to Live in Southern California
  • Rancho Cucamonga. ...
  • Temecula. ...
  • Seal Beach. ...
  • Redlands. ...
  • Oxnard. ...
  • Oceanside. Oceanside is located in San Diego County. ...
  • El Centro. The city of El Centro is the county seat of Imperial County. ...
  • Bakersfield. Bakersfield is a city in Kern County.

Can you live on the beach in California? ›

Of course, there is the conventional list of best beach towns in California to live: Santa Monica, San Diego, Malibu, Huntington Beach… but those are all pretty pricey beach towns.

Where are the cheapest places to retire in California? ›

8 Most Affordable & Best Places to Retire in California
  • Sacramento.
  • Eureka.
  • Thousand Oaks.
  • Visalia.
  • Pasadena.
  • Chico.
  • San Luis Obispo.
  • Grass Valley.

Is it cheaper to live in Northern or Southern California? ›

Is Northern or Southern California More Expensive? On average, Northern California is considerably cheaper than Southern California, as long as you avoid San Francisco and the Bay Area. Southern California is one of the most expensive areas in the country.

Where is the cheapest but safest place to live in California? ›

Sacramento: one of the safest places to live in California

As the state capital city, Sacramento is also surprisingly one of the cheapest places to live in California. Downtown Sacramento is not that cheap, however, there are lots of smaller surrounding suburbs that have affordable rent and real estate prices.

What city has the most affordable housing in California? ›

If you're searching for one of the cheapest places to live in California, look no further than Clovis! Part of the Fresno metro, this Central California city is comfortably-sized, full of young families, and within three hours of both San Jose and Yosemite National Park.

Is anywhere in California affordable? ›

Ventura in Los Angeles is an affordable California beach town to live in if you want to be somewhere with beautiful views and charming weather. Some other inexpensive coastal cities to live in California are Long Beach, San Pedro, and Eureka.

What is the warmest beach in California? ›

The Balboa Peninsula provides shelter from the open Pacific to make Newport Beach waters the warmest in California year round.

What beach do celebrities go to? ›

Malibu, California is known to many as a hot-spot for celebrities. This city has lots of beautiful features, including miles of beaches (Zuma Beach, Malibu Beach, Point Dume), trendy restaurants, amazing homes, and scenery for days. It's not hard to see that Malibu is a beautiful haven for superstars.

What is the most famous beach in California? ›

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

Arguably California's most famous beach, Santa Monica features 3.5 miles of sand, stunning sunsets, and mountain views. The 1,600-foot Santa Monica Pier is an icon all its own.

Who has better beaches California or Florida? ›

Florida's sandy shores are better for families with kids than California's beaches from a beach perspective. Warm water, fewer waves, and fine sandy beaches make Florida an excellent place for children. Plus, the water is often clear, particularly on the Gulf Coast and the Florida Keys, making it great for snorkeling.

Is there a pink sand beach in California? ›

Pink Sand Beach: Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach is located inside Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur California. The beach has unique, purple sand that is washed off of the impressive rock formations that line the beach. The purple tint of the sand is not always visible, though it is most obvious right after a rain.

What is the safest place to live in California? ›

Here are the 10 Safest Cities in California for 2022
  • Danville.
  • Rancho Santa Margarita.
  • Moorpark.
  • Aliso Viejo.
  • Yorba Linda.
  • Laguna Niguel.
  • Poway.
  • Mission Viejo.

Is moving to the beach a good idea? ›

One of the greatest advantages of moving to the beach is that it can help you be healthier. As already mentioned above, the ample sunlight, warm weather, and numerous opportunities for outdoor pursuits in coastal areas have numerous health benefits.

Which is the best seaside town to live? ›

Seaside towns – Best places to live in 2022
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. ...
  • East Preston, West Sussex. ...
  • Woodbridge, Suffolk. ...
  • Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire. ...
  • Thornham, Norfolk. ...
  • Swanage, Dorset.
11 Apr 2022

Where can I retire on $1300 a month? ›

Panama offers a dry, warm climate year round and a very low cost of living–with beach views. You can retire comfortably on $1,300 per month, and it's one of the best countries for quality of life. What's more, English is widely spoken, and you can use your US money anywhere across the country.

Where can I retire on $800 a month? ›

Ecuador. If you're looking for a country where you can retire outside the US comfortably with $800 per month and experience one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world, then Ecuador might be for you. The go-to city for US retirees in Ecuador is Cuenca, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where can I retire on $3000 a month? ›

One of the biggest is where to live. GOBankingRates is here to help, giving you the best cities to retire on a monthly budget of $3,000 or less for a person 65 and older.
...
  • Boise, Idaho. ...
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia. ...
  • Reno, Nevada. ...
  • Las Vegas, Nevada. ...
  • Mesa, Arizona. ...
  • Phoenix, Arizona. ...
  • Jacksonville, Florida. ...
  • Forth Worth, Texas.
26 Oct 2022

What state has the best value for property? ›

Iowa ranked No. 1 for the 2019 Best States affordability ranking, which considers both housing affordability and cost of living. Learn more about Iowa.

What state is best to buy a house? ›

One study that factored in things like price per square foot, foreclosures, crime rates, and taxes found that Wyoming was the best state to buy a house in. Idaho, Indiana, Utah, and New Hampshire filled out the top five in those rankings.

Which is the cheapest state to buy a house? ›

1 cheapest state to buy a house in 2022: Iowa. Iowa came in at the top of the list with the lowest average median household income it takes to be able to afford a house. The largest housing markets in the Midwestern state include Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids.

Where are the cheapest places to retire in California? ›

8 Most Affordable & Best Places to Retire in California
  • Sacramento.
  • Eureka.
  • Thousand Oaks.
  • Visalia.
  • Pasadena.
  • Chico.
  • San Luis Obispo.
  • Grass Valley.

Where is it cheapest to live in Southern California? ›

21 Most Affordable Places to Live in Southern California
  • Rancho Cucamonga. ...
  • Temecula. ...
  • Seal Beach. ...
  • Redlands. ...
  • Oxnard. ...
  • Oceanside. Oceanside is located in San Diego County. ...
  • El Centro. The city of El Centro is the county seat of Imperial County. ...
  • Bakersfield. Bakersfield is a city in Kern County.

Is it cheaper to live in Northern or Southern California? ›

Is Northern or Southern California More Expensive? On average, Northern California is considerably cheaper than Southern California, as long as you avoid San Francisco and the Bay Area. Southern California is one of the most expensive areas in the country.

Where is the cheapest and safest place to live in California? ›

Sacramento: one of the safest places to live in California

As the state capital city, Sacramento is also surprisingly one of the cheapest places to live in California. Downtown Sacramento is not that cheap, however, there are lots of smaller surrounding suburbs that have affordable rent and real estate prices.

What is the number 1 place to retire in the world? ›

Panama. Not for the first time, Panama tops the list of the world's best places to retire. Located away from Central America's hurricane belt, its warm tropical climate is tempered by breezes from the Pacific Ocean on one coast and the Caribbean Sea on the other.

Where do most Californians retire to? ›

Best Places to Retire in California 2022
  1. 1) Santa Rosa. Located in the northern region of the Bay Area, Santarosa is one of the main cities in Sonoma County, and it is a charming city. ...
  2. 2) Sacramento. ...
  3. 3) San Francisco. ...
  4. 4) San Diego. ...
  5. 5) Salinas. ...
  6. 6) Los Angeles. ...
  7. 7) Fairfield. ...
  8. 8) Vallejo.

What is the safest place to live in California? ›

Here are the 10 Safest Cities in California for 2022
  • Danville.
  • Rancho Santa Margarita.
  • Moorpark.
  • Aliso Viejo.
  • Yorba Linda.
  • Laguna Niguel.
  • Poway.
  • Mission Viejo.

Where are affordable homes in Southern California? ›

Cheapest Places to Live in Southern California: El Centro

The cost of living index is 92.1, making this inland, border region 7.9% cheaper than the rest of the U.S. The median home value in El Centro is $270,587, while the average rent is $1,281. This is the cheapest place to live in Southern California.

Where is the most affordable housing? ›

The Motor City tops the list of most affordable places to buy a home. Despite the median salary being among the lowest of the affordable cities on this list, so are home prices.
...
1. Detroit, Michigan.
Median real estate taxes$1,268
Average state income tax4.25%
Monthly utilities$290
Annual food cost$8,277
3 more rows
13 Oct 2022

Is anywhere in California affordable? ›

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in California
  • Eureka. Eureka is a small town located just south of the border of Oregon. ...
  • Redlands. A slightly larger town is Redlands, which is less than two hours from Los Angeles. ...
  • Chico. ...
  • Temecula. ...
  • Oxnard. ...
  • Vacaville. ...
  • Camarillo. ...
  • Blythe.
7 Jan 2019

How much do you need to make to live comfortably in California 2022? ›

According to BEA statistics, you'll need an income with at least $46,636 per year of take-home pay just to meet the average cost of living in California. That works out to about $3,886 per month. Things like savings and extras would be above and beyond that.

What is the safest beach in California? ›

Coronado Beach is also the safest beach in California for swimming. Towards the shore, the waves are very gentle, the waters are usually calm and clear that you can easily see what you're stepping on. It also features numerous lifeguard stations, making the area safer.

Which California beach is the warmest? ›

Highest temperature year round – Long Beach has an annual daily mean of 65 degrees F (18 °C). Warmest beach in winter – Avila Beach, Long Beach and Laguna Beach often get above 67 degrees F (19 °C) in December and January.

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