A View from Gulf Shores, Alabama

The 10 Best Places to Live on the Gulf Coast

If beachside living and mouth-watering seafood appeal to you, then moving to the Gulf Coast is a wonderful option. Composed of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, the Gulf Coast is home to hundreds of cities and small towns that are perfect for settling down. Whether you’re looking for the low cost of living in places like Port Arthur, Texas or the safety and seclusion that somewhere like Alys Beach, Florida can offer, the Gulf Coast has you covered.

Cameron, Louisiana

Cameron Parish, Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana. The Wetland Walkway.

Cameron, Louisiana is an outdoor lover's paradise. Home to a handful of beaches, wetlands, and wildlife refuges, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors while living here. And because proper beaches are hard to come by in the Bayou State, places like Cameron Beach and Holly Beach are particularly special.

In addition to the outdoor appeal, Cameron also has a relatively low cost of living – roughly 10% lower than the US average. Houses in this town are on average $180,000 while rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $960 per month. Cameron also has an overall low rate of violent crime with the percentage hovering around 14%-18%.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Aerial City view of the Gulf Shores, Alabama.

With a population of roughly 16,000, Gulf Shores is a charming small town known for its pristine sandy beaches and sparkling waterfronts. A perfect place for families, the town boasts several kid-friendly things to do including swimming at Gulf State Park, enjoying the rides and attractions at Waterville USA, and admiring the animals at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The city of Gulf Shores also offers a wide range of recreational programs designed to keep kids active and learning.

Although housing prices in Gulf Shores are slightly above the national average, the overall cost of living is approximately ​​5.5% lower than the US average. Residents here note how pleased they are with the public school system, sports programs, parks, recreation, and more. 

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama, USA park and downtown cityscape at twilight.

Those looking for a town filled with family-friendly activities will be interested in Huntsville, Alabama and all it has to offer. Deemed one of the best places to live in the US, it is home to beautiful places including Big Spring International Park, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, and the Madison County Nature Trail. Families living in Huntsville will also want to take advantage of entertaining spots like the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum and the US Space and Rocket Center, which offers a fun and educational summer camp program.

Speaking of education, The Huntsville City Schools District reports 23,650 new enrollments in 2023/24 as well as a 92% graduation rate. According to statistics provided by Data USA the median household income in Huntsville is $78,521 – this is higher than the median household income across the state which sits at $59,609.

Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur Texas Ship Chanel, viewing east.

Port Arthur, Texas is a charming city with a population of roughly 55,000 people. Both the median home price and the median cost of rent here are lower than the national average coming in at $88,100 and $1,040 respectively. The cost of living in Port Arthur is around 22% lower than the US average. With all those cost of living savings, residents of Port Arthur will want to take advantage of the local parks and recreation. Weekends here can be filled with trips to the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, the Walter Umphrey Park, and the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Trips to the nearby Sea Rim State Park are also a must.

South Padre Island, Texas

Summer beach travel destination South Padre Island Beach , Texas.

With warm weather year-round and some truly beautiful outdoor spaces, living in South Padre Island, Texas is a dream. On top of the tropical climate, the cost of living in South Padre is  around 25% lower than the US average. 

Residents of South Padre Island can spend their free time engaging in all kinds of fun and sometimes educational activities. For example, the local sea turtle rescue –,Sea Turtle Inc. offers kids nights, camps, and chances to work alongside one of the rescue’s vets. Those looking to spend time outdoors can relax by the beach at Andy Bowie Park or learn about local wildlife at the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center.

St. Petersburg, Florida

Sunny beach vista from St. Pete Beach, FL.

St. Petersburg, Florida – often referred to by locals as just St. Pete, is a breathtaking beach town filled with fun, sun, and all the amenities you could imagine. Those looking to live the bustling city life will find happiness here. The cost of living in St. Petersburg is roughly 2% lower than the national average. And it ranks safer than 9% of US cities.

Residents will find a wide array of things to see and do in town including enjoying a beach day at St. Pete Beach. Other areas of interest include the Tropicana Field, the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, and the Sunken Gardens.

Gulfport, Mississippi

Ken Combs Pier, Gulfport.

Sandy beaches and mouth watering Gulf Coast seafood are defining factors of Gulfport, Mississippi. It has a lower-than-average rate of violent crime and makes for an overall safe place to live. Gulfport is also a relatively affordable place to live with the cost of living here being around 17% lower than the US average. Residents here can enjoy a wide range of activities including shopping at the local outlet mall – Gulfport Premium Outlets and splashing the day away at Gulf Islands Waterpark.

For a fun outing that’s also educational, residents can head to the Mississippi Aquarium or the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center For Children. Jones Park is also a great local spot for family outings in any season. During the warmest months, the park serves as an excellent place to enjoy a walk, the splash pad, and swimming at the nearby Gulfport Municipal Beach. In the winter, locals won’t want to miss the annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Festival – a festive display of massive Christmas lights.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Gulf coast beach in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Boasting affordable living, a walkable downtown core, and friendly locals, Ocean Springs, Mississippi is largely regarded as a great place to live. Ocean Springs' cost of living is around 16% lower than the US average. The average home costs around $234,500 which is again, lower than the national average. A typical weekend in Ocean Springs might look something like this: A morning hike on the Fontainebleau Nature Trail, picking up fresh goodies at the Ocean Springs Fresh Market, then heading to Front Beach to enjoy a cozy picnic and some swimming. The nearby Davis Bayou area is also worth a visit and features campsites, hiking trails, and a handful of boardwalks offering stunning views of the surrounding bayou.

Alys Beach, Florida

A walking path with water feature and homes in Alys Beach, Florida.

Alys Beach is a luxury community featuring a beautiful sandy beach and stunning white architecture. Of all the towns on this list Alys Beach, Florida might be the most beautiful. But, that beauty doesn’t come without a price tag. The average Alys Beach home is listed for a median price of $5.12 million. But despite the hefty price tag, this small community has plenty to offer residents. The community features a 20-acre nature preserve with an 1800-foot-long hiking trail, elevated boardwalks, and plenty of local flora to admire. Residents here can also enjoy the nearby Somerset Street neighborhood where they will find a donut truck, an amphitheater, movie nights, and a variety of live performances. 

North Port, Florida

Waterfront residential houses in living area in North Port, Florida.

North Port, Florida is considerably safer than 46% of US cities with an overall crime rate of 11 per 1000 residents. With that kind of safety and peace of mind, residents are free to enjoy all that this beautiful town has to offer. On any given day, residents can participate in activities such as watching a Braves game at CoolToday Park, enjoying the greens at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club, or strolling through one of the town's many scenic parks. Of North Port’s 20+ parks, Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park is among the most stunning. Spend some time here relaxing under a canopy of oak trees, exploring the trails on horseback, or watching for local wildlife.

In Conclusion

From Texas to Florida and every state in between, the Gulf Coast is a pretty incredible place to call home. Rich with natural beauty and affordable places to live, there’s a little something for everyone in these 10 best places to live on the Gulf Coast. So if you’re thinking of moving, relocating, or buying your first home, don’t forget about these wonderful towns.


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