It’s no secret that the coasts have an oversized influence on life in the United States. On the coastlines of America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 40% of the U.S. population is packed onto just 10% of the land. This means that living on the coast is high in demand, and prices certainly can reflect that. The East Coast is more populous than the West Coast, which is perhaps why New York City is currently the most expensive place to live in the nation, according to Bungalow — the average rent is nearly three times the national average.
It’s easy to see why people enjoy living in places with easy access to the ocean. Of course, factors like family history, employment, and luck all contribute to why a person might want to live on the coast. But according to CountryLiving, living by the sea is excellent for mental and physical health, reducing stress, and incentivizing people to exercise more.
However, the Eastern Seaboard doesn’t necessarily deserve its reputation as being entirely unaffordable. If you’re willing and able to look south of the traditional East Coast heartland, there are cities out there that offer the best of what the East Coast has to offer — beaches, culture, and history — without breaking the bank. Keep reading to get the lowdown on the best and most affordable places to live on the East Coast.
The largest city in Florida is also home to the most shoreline of any city in the United States — Jacksonville is perfect for those people who just cannot get enough of the beach. Plus, the cost of living is around 10% below the national average, notes Uphomes. This is in large due to the affordable cost of housing in Jacksonville, where the median home costs around 22% less than the national average — or $180,000 in Jacksonville, compared to $231,000 nationally, per iStorage. This is much better than many of the other cities in Florida, and you can take advantage of all of the great things Jacksonville has to offer.
Besides miles and miles of beaches, great schools, and an all-year climate, Jacksonville is one of the USA’s current boomtowns, according to Expat Arrivals. The economy is on the rise alongside the rapid expansion of the city’s population, and there’s a vibrant music and food scene in the city. In addition, Jacksonville is only 2 hours from Orlando and 5 hours from both Atlanta and Miami.
Savannah is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the entire country, according to Bauce. Its has historical neighborhoods and parks and the city center contains over 20 blocks of cobblestoned streets filled with churches, gardens, mansions, and fountains, explains National Geographic.
Along with being a true southern gem, Savannah is also a wonderfully affordable place to live. Per Areavibes, the cost of living in Savannah is 7% lower than the national average, with groceries being especially affordable, relative to the U.S. at large. The city itself has an artsy, riverside feel, but locals can also get away to the five different public beaches at Tybee Island, just a short drive from downtown, according to ExtraSpace Storage. Moreover, Savannah is a nature lover’s dream, with over 100 parks offering activities and scenery to enjoy. Although it’s not quite as beachy as Jacksonville, with seven miles of coastline, there are plenty of options for a picnic, fishing, or surfing.
Both of the previous options are East Coast living, but definitely somewhat removed from the core urban centers of the Northeast. Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland, accounting for 46% of the whole state’s population by some calculations. It is also a mere 40 minutes by train (or 40 miles by car) from Washington, D.C., and all the attendant amenities of the nation’s capital. Baltimore is more than just a commuter town, but its location is all the more attractive when considering that it is one of the few major U.S. cities where middle-class families can have a comfortable standard of living downtown, according to Zumper.
Rental prices in Baltimore are slightly below the national average, according to Southern Management Companies, and well below the rates paid in Washington, D.C. The city hasn’t always had the easiest of rides or the most gleaming of reputations, but as with many great American towns, this has spawned a glorious and fierce local attitude and identity that make living in Baltimore a unique experience. The cuisine of the Chesapeake Bay is rightly famed for both flavor and hospitality. According to Movoto, the nightlife, style, and overall aesthetic of modern Baltimore have been strongly influenced by hometown icon John Waters, and if you are a fan of his classic films, you may well find kindred spirits amongst the folk that make this city what it is.