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Texas might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of beaches, but the Lone Star State isn’t all about ranching and oil and the Dallas Cowboys. The state’s Gulf Coast features 367 miles of shoreline populated with charming coastal cities for all types of people including budget-friendly locales to vacation or to live. Now I will walk you through the most affordable beach towns in Texas plus give you tips on local attractions, things to do, and more.
What are the most affordable beach towns in Texas?
Coastal locations in Texas where the cost of living is lower than the national average are Port Arthur and Freeport.
Right on the border with Louisiana and just south of Beaumont, Port Arthur is a great place along the Gulf Coast to retire. Housing costs are much lower than in most of the rest of the U.S., and things like healthcare, food, and utility costs are also lower than state averages.
Add to this the mild weather and beach access, and you have the best place to retire in Texas on a budget. If you need more motivation to decamp to Port Arthur, in 2022, Property Shark named it the cheapest beach town in Texas and in the whole U.S.
Sea Rim State Park, in Sabine Pass, features over 5 miles of shoreline from which you can watch birds, rent a kayak, or fish right on the surf. The Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge is a peaceful and relaxing park where you can observe interesting wildlife including migratory birds like the killdeer and the willet.
While not many people find it attractive to visit a town that is known for featuring the fastest-growing port in Texas, the small town of Freeport offers surprisingly good family-friendly activities and lots of nature.
Besides the nearby clear water beaches such as Surfside and Byron Beach, there is The Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, west of town, which is a sanctuary for the region’s waterfowl and is perfect for birdwatching, moreover it has biking and hiking trails. The Brazos River flows through town to the Gulf of Mexico and offers opportunities for kayaking.
Freeport is a great place for families to live as the cost of living here is 20% lower than the national average. Housing costs here are nearly 60% lower than national averages and everyday goods and services such as grocery, utility, and healthcare are also cheaper here.
Other cheap beach towns in Texas
One of the best small Texas beach towns, Rockport, located 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, sits on Aransas Bay and offers a relaxed way of life. The city features fishing piers and cultural attractions and is a prime location for birdwatching.
Rockport Beach Park extends for 1 mile along the bay and has amenities like a playground, pavilion rentals, and 3 acres of grounds for hosting various festivals held throughout the year, such as the Annual Seafair, a three-day long family festival.
The cost of living in Rockport is 12% less than the national average. You’ll pay less for housing and utilities in this town than in other parts of Texas, and rents are also much cheaper.
Situated on its namesake island, Galveston is one of the larger Texas beach towns. Back when Texas was its own republic, Galveston served as the capital. The city was also the origin of Juneteenth celebration.
Today, this city, 50 miles south of Houston, is a popular vacation destination offering attractions like the Historic Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens, and miles and miles of beaches. You’ll also find fantastic museums, restaurants, and shops too.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living the beach life, Galveston may just be perfect for you. The city offers one of the best places to live in Texas on the coast. Compared to Houston, overall expenses in Galveston are about 10% lower. Rents and home prices are also lower than in Houston. Another plus is that there are many job opportunities in the healthcare and tourism sectors.
Just a half-hour drive from Houston, La Porte is a great place to visit for history lovers. The Battle of San Jacinto took place here; the end result of this campaign was the birth of the Republic of Texas in 1836. Visit the San Jacinto Monument and the San Jacinto Museum of History to learn more about this important battle.
Sitting right at Galveston Bayshore, La Porte has spacious coastal parks. Sylvan Beach Park is fun for the entire family with options to exercise, BBQ, or just relax. North of Sylvan Beach, Seabreeze Park has a number of amenities, including picnic areas, a playground, and a fishing dock open to residents.
Housing and healthcare costs are lower here than in other parts of Texas. Renters will also find more affordability here than in bigger cities like Houston.
The biggest of the Texas coastal towns, Corpus Christi, and located just two hours south of San Antonio by car. With interesting historical sites to visit, great restaurants to dine in, and fantastic cheap and free outdoor activities to enjoy, this Texas town offers something for everyone.
An interesting fact is that Corpus Christi is also the birthplace of Whataburger – the famous burger chain serving quarter-pound burgers. Make sure not to miss trying it when in town!
Corpus Christi’s main beach, North Beach has amusements like a Ferris wheel, an aquarium, and a 1.5-mile-long paved Beachwalk trail along the water’s edge where you can go for a stroll or ride a bike. With free parking and many free/cheap activities, North Beach is also one of the most budget-friendly beaches in the entire U.S. For a perfect white sandy beach experience, head to Mustang Island State Park, just 30 minutes drive away from Corpus Christi where you find miles-long pristine sand!
Like many towns on this list, Corpus Christi is one of the affordable places to live in Texas near the beach. The city is considered cheaper than most of the rest of the state. Housing costs are well below national averages.
South Padre Island
Not to confuse it with the 113-mile-long barrier island, South Padre Island is a small resort town down on Texas’ southern coast. Although it does have a reputation as a “party” town do it might not be the best place to visit with your family or elderly parents during spring break, but if you come in the off-season, you can enjoy an adventure-filled beach vacation without being too crowded.
You can take a horseback ride on the beach, grab your fishing rod and try angling off one of the town’s jetties, or sign up for a fishing charter excursion. If you prefer relaxation, get pampered in one of the town’s many spas, or wake up early for yoga on the beach.
Isla Blanca Park at the southern tip of South Padre Island is one of the top Texas beaches with its clean sand and offers a great base camp for water-based activities. The best is, that it is a great place to see dolphins as they often hang out in the cove!
Located right across the bay from Corpus Christi, on Mustang Island, the small town of Port Aransas is the Fishing Capital of Texas. Enroll in a summer fishing tournament or set up a spot for yourself on one of the piers and cast your line. You can stroll out onto the boardwalk and look for alligators or visit the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center for birdwatching.
Note that the cost of living here is slightly higher than in the rest of the country. Beachfront property costs can range from the high six figures to the millions. However, grocery and transportation costs are lower than the nationwide average.
If you don’t want to relocate here but just take a trip, “Port A” offers some of the best beaches in Texas for a family vacation. The town’s namesake beach, Port Aransas Beach, sits at the top of Mustang Island and provides 6 miles’ worth of sand and sunbathing.
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