Where Should We Move? (East Coast Beach Edition)
January 13, 2020 9:45 AM   Subscribe

We want to spend this year visiting east coast beach towns to decide where to move in May 2021 when our lease is up. What towns should we be looking at?

We are basically looking between VA Beach and Savannah, with VA Beach, Morehead City NC, Wilmington NC, Myrtle Beach SC, Charleston SC, and maybe Savannah as the prime targets. Priorities are:

1. Proximity to beach. Would like to rent 2 bed / 2 bath place within walking or bicycle distance of the beach for no more than $2000/month. Farthest we want to live from the water is about a 15-minute drive.

2. Restaurants/nightlife, stuff to do. We are empty nesters so we have free time to do stuff.

3. Healthcare - don't want to be driving an hour for routine medical care.

That's about it, I work from home so not worried about jobs, etc.

Any prime candidates that I've overlooked? We spent a few days over Christmas break in Charleston and really liked it. We live in VA now and are very familiar with the VA Beach area.

If you want to suggest something outside our target area feel free. If you want to make an impassioned case for your favorite lakeside beach town go for it.
posted by COD to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Beware Spring Break beaches. Myrtle Beach is horrendous during both HS and collegiate breaks. Avoid anywhere with a Senor Frog's and avoid anywhere on the "Top 10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations" list. (Myrtle Beach hits both of these very, very low bars.) I know you want things to do and restaurants etc but the more attractive a beach destination is for you, the more attractive it is for Spring Breakers.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:02 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I would say that beaches (and beach communities) vary greatly along the NC coastline. For example, you list Wilmington but going over the bridge to Wrightsville is a huge headache (to me at least) though biking wouldn’t be bad. Not far away are Carolina, Kure and Topsail beach which are also worth considering (though I’m not sure what the drive time would be to medical facilities).
posted by raccoon409 at 10:27 AM on January 13

Charleston is probably a good bet, Folly Island or Sullivan's Island have good beaches. Both are convenient to downtown, restaurants and medical stuff. The beach for Savannah is Tybee Island and there's not much there in the winter. It's 15+ miles from downtown.

If you want to check out somewhere further south look at Brunswick. Big old beautiful houses a few minutes from beach on St. Simons. But, I don't know about medical there.
posted by mareli at 12:11 PM on January 13

May not be exactly what you're looking for, but both New Bern and Southport are utterly charming. New Bern may not have fantastic beaches nearby, but the nightlife there is a good time.
posted by Vhanudux at 1:28 PM on January 13

Cape Canaveral, Florida is further south than you're looking, the summers are blazing (but the winters are delightful) but it seems to tick your other boxes, plus! we have ROCKETS.
posted by WaywardPlane at 3:50 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I have relatives who live in Morehead City and, to me at least, it seems like a pretty generic town with a few strip malls and a Wal Mart. But if you wanted to live on the beautiful Crystal Coast, you'd only have to go into Morehead City for provisions. Emerald Isle and Pine Knoll Shores are lovely places and are usually ignored by the Spring Break crowd. If you want to get an idea of prices, Emerald Isle Reality has listings for long-term and annual rentals.
posted by Otis at 10:21 AM on January 14

Would you consider Pensacola, FL? It has history and charm, and a down-at-the-heels feeling of being left behind in the prior century. Pensacola also has elevation, which is often hard to come by in beach areas. With rising seas and flooding storms, this is a long term consideration.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 12:29 PM on January 14

Anti-recommendation for Myrtle Beach. I lived there for a year and it was horrendous. The traffic is terrible from May to October and all the drunk tourists are driving around causing accidents. The beaches are packed in the summer. Off-season isn't terrible but generally it's chilly enough that you don't want to swim in the off season. Also take note that even worse than spring break are the TWO "bike weeks" where you basically have to stay home because the area is overrun with bikers. Surfside Beach is about as good as the Myrtle Beach area gets, so if you really want to try it out, rent something in the Surfside/Garden City area. But, there are so few roads to get anywhere that the entire area clogs, so unless you're within walking distance of the beach, it can take you half an hour or more to go a mile. Also, if you're really interested in checking out the area, Huntington Beach State Park is MUCH nicer than the beaches in Myrtle, so focus your search there -- it's between Garden City and Pawleys.

Pawleys Island would be a better bet, it's much calmer than Myrtle, but I have no idea what the rental market is like there.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:38 PM on January 14

Fernandina Beach, which is just south of the Florida-Georgia line, is a charming town reasonably close to Jax for when you need a shot of urban life.
posted by carmicha at 9:44 PM on January 14

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