12 of The Best Gulf Coast Beach Towns

Are you dreaming of finding your perfect coastal haven to call home? 

Look no further than the Gulf Coast! 

With its world-class beaches, friendly communities, and relaxed lifestyle, the Gulf Coast offers an array of charming towns and cities to settle down in. 

Now, let’s discover your ideal Gulf Coast retreat below! 

The Best Places to Live on the Gulf Coast

South Walton, FL

An Region in South Walton Florida.

Pros: 

  • Good schools 
  • Comfortable humidity 
  • Plenty of parks 
  • No state income tax 

Cons: 

  • Relatively high tornado risk 
  • Low mobile internet speed 

South Walton is home to Alys Beach, which Southern Living hails as the premier place to reside in this region. 

This recently developed town showcases an exquisite blend of aesthetics and comfort. 

With its white buildings arranged around charming courtyards and quaint streets, Alys Beach evokes the luxury of Marrakesh

The community of Alys Beach demonstrates a commitment to eco-friendly living. 

Its streets are thoughtfully constructed to minimize stormwater runoff, while the presence of drought-resistant plants contributes to a greener environment. 

It’s also a vibrant hub, regularly hosting many art and culinary festivals. 

Ocean Springs, MS 

A Pier In Ocean Springs, MS.

Pros: 

  • Low poverty rate 
  • High government spending 
  • Great weather 
  • High median income 

Cons: 

  • High property prices 
  • Not much land for sale

Nestled along the Coast since its establishment in 1699, Ocean Springs boasts the proud title of being the oldest community in the region. 

With a modest population of around 18,000, it exudes the allure of a cozy city. 

Its streets weave a tapestry of bespoke residences, particularly in the historic areas, where each house tells a unique story. 

There are majestic live oaks that grace the older part of town, their ancient branches evoking the vibes of centuries gone by. 

Ocean Springs is a pedestrian’s paradise, inviting strolls.

The homes are adorned with vibrant gardens and graceful magnolia trees. 

There are a variety of things to do in Ocean Springs, Ms.

Sarasota, FL 

Beach House in Sarasota, FL.

Pros: 

  • Cozy small-town feel with modern amenities 
  • Bustling culture scene 
  • Stunning beaches 
  • Low wildfire risk 

Cons: 

  • High risk of storms 
  • Tourists and traffic 

Sarasota epitomizes the perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural vibrancy. 

This coastal gem is located on the Gulf Coast and offers pristine beaches, lush parks, and fascinating architecture. 

Renowned for its vibrant arts scene, Sarasota boasts world-class museums, theaters, and galleries that cater to every artistic taste. 

The city’s charming downtown area combines historical landmarks and modern developments, creating an enchanting ambiance. 

With a thriving culinary scene, outdoor recreation, and a calendar filled with events, Sarasota provides a fulfilling lifestyle for its residents. 

Whether basking in the sun-drenched shores or immersing yourself in cultural delights, Sarasota offers an unparalleled experience. 

South Padre Island, TX 

Beauty in South Padre Island, TX.

Pros: 

  • Higher educated residents 
  • Low substance abuse rate 
  • Many sporting facilities 
  • No state income tax 

Cons: 

  • High property prices 
  • The influx of spring breakers 

South Padre Island is located at the southern tip of Texas along the Rio Grande and the Mexican border. 

It’s a remarkable destination filled with a myriad of attractions. 

As the only island in Texas, it boasts an impressive 34-mile stretch of sandy beaches that entice movers and visitors from far and wide. 

While known as a bustling spring break destination, the island’s allure extends beyond college revelry, catering to couples and families alike. 

With its walkable layout and the convenience of the free public shuttle known as the Wave, exploring the island is a breeze. 

Residents can regularly enjoy kayaking, fishing, and dolphin watching for most of the year. 

The island’s tight-knit community also fosters a unique living experience with abundant recreation opportunities. 

Gasparilla Island, FL 

A Beautiful Serene Beach Spot in Gasparilla Island, FL.

Pros: 

  • High homeownership rate 
  • Excellent elementary schools 
  • High median income 
  • Idyllic weather 

Cons: 

  • High rent costs 
  • Not so commercial (no chain stores, traffic lights, etc.) 

Located between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Gasparilla Island emerges as a bit of paradise off the Gulf Coast of Florida. 

Enchanting visitors and residents with charm, the island spans seven miles of pristine alabaster beaches. 

The visual allure of Gasparilla lies in its picturesque scenery, with pastel-hued cottages dotting the landscape and palm streets adorning its streets. 

Known for its abundant fishing opportunities, the island draws avid anglers, especially during summer when affluent folks seek out fishing getaways. 

At the heart of the community lies Boca Grande, a quaint fishing village that serves as the epicenter of island life. 

Residents of Gasparilla Island enjoy a serene and idyllic island lifestyle, embracing what it truly means to go coastal.  

Gulfport, MS 

A Park Bridge In Gulfport, MS.

Pros: 

  • Lower cost of living 
  • Race diversity 
  • Affordable childcare 
  • Fast internet 

Cons: 

  • Low median income 
  • High poverty rate

Gulfport, the largest city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a vibrant working hub with a prominent port and Navy base. 

Manufacturing and business dominate the southern part of the city, complemented by two large casinos near the port. 

Downtown Gulfport has many restaurants, while vacant lots provide affordable opportunities for building new homes. 

The city extends north with newer homes and bayou-side properties. 

Gulfport’s mature neighborhoods present prospects for buying and remodeling, including Victorian-style homes and vacation rentals. 

With a dynamic atmosphere, Gulfport is considered a more affordable place on the Gulf Coast, offering enticing real estate deals. 

The beautiful Gulfport beaches are worth exploring.

So enchanting!

Tampa – St. Petersburg, FL 

The Beautiful Blue Skies of Tampa - St. Petersburg, FL.

Pros: 

  • Lots of festivals 
  • Family-friendly 
  • Affordable housing 
  • Professional sports 

Cons: 

  • Tropical storms 
  • Higher insurance costs 

The Tampa – St. Petersburg metro area has gained a reputation as a rising city in many publications.

It’s experiencing rapid growth and was declared the 9th fastest-growing city in the US in 2020 by WalletHub

This development influx has generated many job opportunities, making it a thrilling destination for singles, families, and seniors. 

The region offers diverse, affordable housing options, including urban downtown living and suburban lifestyles. 

It also boasts convenient access to an array of stunning beaches and parks. 

Clearwater Beach, only 30 minutes away, and Anna Maria Island, just an hour’s drive, provide high-quality coastal experiences. 

And not to be overlooked, St. Pete Beach, located a short 10-minute distance from downtown, has earned its distinction as one of the best beaches in all of Florida. 

Port Arthur, TX 

The Rainbow Bridge in Port Arthur, TX.

Pros: 

  • Low cost of living 
  • Diverse political views 
  • Low property prices 
  • Fast internet 

Cons: 

  • High sales tax 
  • Low median income 

Port Arthur has a fascinating history. 

Established in 1898, it was named after Arthur Stilwell, the Kansas City Southern Railroad president. 

The city experienced a boom in 1901 with the discovery of the legendary Spindletop oil well. 

Today, Port Arthur boasts the fifth-largest port in the US in terms of tonnage. 

But the area isn’t just about business! 

It presents an active coastal lifestyle with plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like boating, fishing, and windsurfing. 

It also has many attractions, like Pleasure Island, the Sea Rim State Park, Lake Sabine, and the Museum of the Gulf Coast

Port Arthur is affordable, so you can enjoy your coveted coastal lifestyle without breaking the bank! 

Grand Isle, LA

The Ocean in Grand Isle LA.

Pros: 

  • Quiet, small-town feel 
  • Low cost of living 
  • Great nightlife 
  • Easy commute 

Cons: 

  • Limited schooling options 
  • Limited job opportunities 

Are you seeking a tranquil and nature-filled getaway far from the typical resort crowds?

Well, Grand Isle, Louisiana, is worth checking out. 

As the state’s sole inhabited barrier island, it captivated visitors and residents with its serene atmosphere and abundant wildlife. 

Nature lovers flock here for its renowned fishing spots and bird habitats. 

Grand Isle boasts seven pristine beaches, and the adjacent Grand Isle State Park is the perfect recreational spot with its trails, campsites, and sprawling pier. 

The culinary scene in Grand Isle is also alive and kicking, being one of the best places to get Cajun-style fare. 

For a change of pace, a short drive to New Orleans offers a livelier nightlife, with the option to retreat to nature anytime. 

Pensacola, FL

Clean Blue Beautiful Sea in Pensacola, FL.

Pros: 

  • Stunning beaches 
  • Great real estate market 
  • Many employment opportunities 
  • Good school system 

Cons: 

  • Traffic 
  • Areas with high crime rate 

Pensacola, a famed vacation spot, beckons with its sun-kissed beaches and powdery white sands. 

With a rich history rooted in its Spanish origins and deep connections to aviation, Pensacola also offers a unique blend of culture and heritage. 

As a hub of Navy pilot training, the city takes pride in hosting the esteemed National Naval Aviation Museum, a significant draw for the area. 

And surprisingly, Pensacola stands out as one of the most affordable home bases along the panhandle. 

It has remarkably affordable housing, with costs 9% below the national average

This coastal gem also enjoys proximity to several top-tier beaches, namely Pensacola Beach, Destin, and Navarre

Bay St. Louis, MS 

A Beautiful Home in Bay St. Louis, MS.

Pros: 

  • Low property tax 
  • Affordable childcare 
  • Thriving arts and culture scene 
  • Industry diversity 

Cons: 

  • High risk for severe storms 
  • Tourist sprawl

This charming city has undergone a remarkable recovery following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. 

The community rallied, rebuilding homes, businesses, and even the highway.

Today, the city has new restaurants, accommodations, and thriving enterprises. 

It’s now a trendy and vibrant place to live, especially with its proximity to New Orleans. 

Residents and visitors can explore two distinct areas: the lively harbor and piers lined with enticing pubs, shops, and cafes. It’s a delightfully walkable experience. 

Bay St. Louis retains its quaint coastal ambiance with its wealth of 19th-century properties and charming Creole cottages. 

Pristine beaches beckon with warm waters, and fishing is a beloved pastime. 

The town’s thriving art acne, showcased in its numerous galleries, adds to its cultural allure. 

Gulf Shores, AL

Beautiful Beach Homes in Gulf Shores AL.

Pros:  

  • Many job opportunities 
  • Varied housing options 
  • Good schools 
  • Easy commute 

Cons: 

  • Higher cost of living 
  • Tourist sprawl

Gulf Shores is making waves as a captivating beach city destination and place to call home. 

Its 32 miles of pristine white sandy beaches make it an authentic coastal paradise that defies expectations. 

Orange Beach reigns supreme for deep-sea fishing and water sports enthusiasts, while the beachfront resorts attract travelers with endless under-the-sun fun. 

You can immerse yourself in the wild wonders of the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, make a splash at the thrilling Waterville USA water park, or try your luck at the nearby casinos. 

Nature lovers will appreciate the scenic trails and leisurely hikes in Gulf State Park and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. 


Gulf Coast FAQs 

Is the Gulf Coast a good place to live? 

Absolutely! 

The entire area offers a desirable combination of natural beauty, coastal charm, and a relaxed lifestyle. 

With its warmer climate, stunning beaches, and abundant recreational activities, the Gulf Coast provides a wonderful quality of life for its residents. 

Where is the most affordable place to live on the Gulf Coast? 

If affordability is your top priority, there are several great options on the Gulf Coast. 

Cities like Gulfport and Port Arthur offer lower living costs compared to other destinations.
 
These areas provide diverse housing options, amenities, and welcoming communities for younger families and young professionals. 

Where is the best beach on the Gulf Coast? 

Hmmm…
 
The Gulf Coast is home to numerous breathtaking beaches, making it challenging to choose one as the best. 

Orange Beach, St. Petete Beach, Bay St. Louis Beach, and Navarre Beach, among many others.

We’ll be here all day if we’d list them all! 


Final Thoughts 

The Gulf Coast is home to a remarkable collection of beach towns and cities that beckon with their allure and coastal charm. 

These vibrant communities offer a taste of coastal living, where sandy shores meet the gentle lapping of the waves. 

Whether you’re looking to retire, go on adventures, or establish a home base for your family, the Gulf Coast has something to offer everyone.


Other Related Articles To Read Below:

The Best Beaches in Alabama.

Bon Secour, AL Beyond the beach: Exploring the hidden gems of AL, Coastline.

What’s There To Do In Ocean Springs MS?

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