Melbourne Beach, Florida
A seaside town where you'll never lack for houseguests
In the wintertime, you'd expect most of the beaches in Florida to be full of tourists, but Melbourne Beach, Fla., is full of locals. "It has a homegrown resident population of well-educated people, and it's not dependent on the tourist industry for the local economy," says Andrew Schiller, president and founder of NeighborhoodScout. While Melbourne Beach is not in Florida's bargain basement, "it is quite a bit less expensive," Schiller says, than some other places on the Atlantic coast. A typical house in Palm Beach is five times as expensive. "If you're moving from New York or Los Angeles, a place like this would be quite affordable."
This seaside town offers primo ocean views. "Wherever you live in the town, you're not more than a block or so from the ocean or the river," says Mayor William Stacey, a refugee from Massachusetts.
Ann Downing, 74, a retired bank secretary from Houston, lives two blocks from the beach, one block from the Indian River Lagoon, and a 90-minute drive from Orlando. "We're grandparents and great-grandparents, and everybody likes to visit us," she says. Plus, Downing has saved money by slashing her clothing budget. "Nobody dresses up," she says. Every day is shorts and sandals day.
Techies can take classes at the Florida Institute of Technology in nearby Melbourne. Or if you would rather just marvel at a rocket blasting off than study the physics behind it, Melbourne Beach is only 25 miles from Cape Canaveral, where you can see the space shuttle soar into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center.
Median home value: $425,500
Age 65 or over: 23 percent
Cost of living: 32.2 percent above the U.S.average
Maximum state income tax: none
State sales tax: 6 percent
This story appears in the June 11, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.