Alternative beach hot spots to the Hamptons and Malibu have similar lifestyles, amenities and homes.

Not Everyone Wants Glamor, Glitz & Prices of Hamptons or Malibu

The Hamptons and Malibu are synonymous with celebrities and aggressively priced homes.  During the pandemic, New Yorkers and Angelinos alike fled their respective cities, snapped up houses and packed the beaches.

For those clients looking for alternative waterside towns with more doable home prices and who don’t really care about running into Beyonce or Jerry Seinfeld, here are five low-key seaside spots that also over stunning scenery, expansive houses and comparable upscale amenities.

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Carmel-by-the-Sea CA

This northern California seaside town of 3,800 residents offers white-sand beaches, historic architecture and diverse shops and restaurants.

In addition to Carmel’s “Golden Rectangle” neighborhood with its walkability to town and the beach, buyers also search for “cool, historic homes built in the 1920’s and 1930’s” and “Hansel and Gretel” cottages built by the famed local developer Hugh Comstock, according to Tim Allen, owner of Tim Allen Properties in Carmel-by-the-Sea. has reported that the median sold price in Carmel-by-the Sea jumped from $2.37M in April 2021 to $3.3M in April 2022.  Don’t, however, be surprised if price tags hit $6M and up.

Homes in Carmel Woods north of town have price tags some -30% less.

Lake Oswego OR

Eight miles south of Portland, Lake Oswego, a quiet waterfront town with a 405-acre lake, has been the place to live for generations.  According to Tony Mariotti, owner of Great Vancouver real estate firm, Lake Oswego offers “great schools,” independently owned small businesses and services and eclectic architecture.

Mariotti describes the Lake Oswego home market as being a “a great value” (with lakefront homes priced at) about $1,100 per square foot.)  Off the lake, homes average about $5M and starter homes cost around $600,000 for a 1,200/square foot home.

The town’s housing market is still considered hot but Mariotti said, “We’re no long seeing as many multiple bidders pushing up prices.  the bid-to-ask ratio is getting closer.  We’re achieving more of a balance.”

Mercer Island WA

Considered a “boutique community” between Seattle and Bellevue, Mercer Island is 5-miles long and a “lifestyle unto itself,” according to Michele Schuler, a realtor with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.  This “extremely high-end” community on Lake Washington has two beach clubs and three public beaches.

Schuler noted “tremendous restrictions” on new construction since 2017 rendered lightning-fast sales (average of five days) and a median home price of about $2.4M.  A high-end listing can fetch upwards of $16M.

The neighborhoods of Mercerdale, First Hill and Madrona Crest on the island’s North End are the most convenient and pricey while the neighborhoods of The Lakes, Mercer Island Estates and Tarywood Park on the South End draw families due to their proximity to schools.

Sea Girt NJ

About 65 miles south of New York City and “laid-back,” Sea Girt, according to, is the second-most expensive zip code in New Jersey following Alpine in Bergen County.  Sea Girt’s median sale price hit $1,892,000 for the first time in 2021.

Sea Girt is a “very small town” with just two restaurants, a breakfast diner, liquor store and lots of real estate offices, according to Denise Crey, a realtor at Ward Wight Sotheby’s international Realty.  There are public beaches, a popular boardwalk and two private golf clubs with long waiting lists.

Crey said that the town of Spring Lake, two miles north of Sea Girt, “has more of a downtown.

Block Island RH

About 53 miles south of Providence and 102 miles south of Boston, Block Island has “bad” internet and no crypto billionaires and, according to Rosemary Tobin, sales associate at Lila Delman Compass, “people like it that way.”

Three things distinguish Block Island:  strict zoning laws, conservancy and historic preservation.  Residents do not want the density of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons.

The pandemic propelled home prices to an average of $1.5M, “and more like $2M to $3M on the water,” said Tobin.

Thanks to MansionGlobal

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