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This 'Secret Coast' City in Mississippi Has Some of the Most Affordable Beachfront Real Estate in the U.S., According to an Expert

Gulfport, Mississippi, was just named one of the most affordable places to buy a beach house — and an expert told us exactly why.

<p>dszc/Getty Images</p>

dszc/Getty Images

With 26 miles of white-sand Gulf Coast beaches (some of them among the most beautiful in the region) and several barrier islands, Mississippi is a surprisingly popular warm-weather getaway. In fact, of the 24 million people who visited the state in 2022, 14.6 million opted to stay along its picture-perfect coastline, which also offers some of the most affordable beachfront real estate in the country, according to a new report by Realtor.com.

Gulfport, Mississippi's second-largest city, located at the heart of its "Secret Coast," topped the company's annual ranking of the most budget-friendly beach towns in the nation, with the median price for homes at $224,900.

<p>DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images</p>

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

"Homes are incredibly affordable [in Gulfport], making it a very popular place to move. We are seeing people move here from New Orleans, Florida, and even California," Jon Ritten, owner and broker at RE/MAX Coast Delta Realty, told Travel + Leisure.

Gulfport's appeal to vacationers lies in its size, natural beauty, and central location — it is home to about 73,000 residents and the state's second-largest airport. It is also only an hour east of New Orleans.

The city houses a number of museums, including the Gulfport Museum of History; the 5.8-acre Mississippi Aquarium, which opened its doors in 2020; and the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum, displaying dozens of model trains and 200 years worth of train history. Another highlight is the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, a former 1915 schoolhouse with 15,000 square feet of interactive exhibition spaces for children. And speaking of Gulfport's youngest residents and visitors, there is plenty to keep them occupied and entertained here — waterparks, zip lining, kid-friendly nature tours, and of course, water sports.

<p>Laura Grier/robertharding/Getty Images</p>

Laura Grier/robertharding/Getty Images

Whatever your age, though, Gulfport is a great place to unwind. The town, together with neighboring Biloxi, are two of the most vibrant communities along the Mississippi coastline, where visitors can savor fresh gulf seafood, try their luck at the many casinos, hike, bike, peruse local art at Fishbone Alley in downtown Gulfport, or explore the Gulf of Mexico's Gulf Islands National Seashore, easily accessible by ferry. Events such as "Carnival on the Coast," a celebration of Mardi Gras comprising more than a dozen of parades along the entire Mississippi coastline, and Cruising the Coast, an award-winning car show and the state's biggest event attracting tens of thousands of antique car enthusiasts from all corners of the country, are just two of the highlights of the region's lively annual events calendar.

As Realtor.com also points out, the main draw in Gulfport and the area are its beaches and the endless list of water activities. Fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming, jet skiing, or simply soaking up Vitamin D while enjoying the scenery awaits all vacationers here.

And unlike many coastal communities along the gulf coast, you don't have to break the bank to purchase a vacation home.

<p>dszc/Getty Images</p>

dszc/Getty Images

"It is very affordable to own a home on the water, so one of the most popular properties we see vacation home buyers purchasing are waterfront homes," Ritten explained. "Of course, we have beaches, but we also have many homes on the bayous and rivers that feed out to the Gulf of Mexico. Gulfport also has an extensive community of golfers making the homes on golf courses very popular as well."

However, Gulfport is vulnerable to flooding. The city suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina and receives about 65 inches of rainfall each year, which is almost double the national average. So buying property here has its risks.

<p>pelicankate/Getty Images</p>

pelicankate/Getty Images

"Make sure you are aware and understand the importance of having flood and storm insurance. It's worth protecting your investment. Working with a good insurance company can make all the difference," Axel Oestreicher, an agent at Dorian Bennett Sotheby's International Realty, advised.

But regardless of the challenges, Gulfport remains a popular vacation destination that offers beach lovers a chance to turn their beach getaway into a year-round lifestyle.

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