Ocean City, New Jersey, is not your typical beach town. Famous for being a family resort that has prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages since its inception in 1879, Ocean City is a quiet beachside city with a small-town feel.
In fact, the Travel Channel named Ocean City the best family beach of 2005. Doug Grisbaum, who has lived there for 43 years, says nothing can compare to Ocean City’s charm. “I’ve been all over the Caribbean, and I still think the nicest beach is here -- it's clean, fun, and there’s always something to do,” he says.
Getting around: Getting around Ocean City is not a big to-do. Driving and riding your bike are both easy ways to commute, Grisbaum says. But come summertime, it’s a different story.
“July and August can be tough. There are a lot of people in town then,” Grisbaum says. In the summer months, an influx of second homeowners and tourists sometimes can cause traffic delays around the clock.
Owning a home: Just like in any other beach town, the cost of a home is all about location, Grisbaum says. The closer to the water, the more expensive the price will be. Homes near the shore can cost several million dollars, while houses farther inland can be as little as $85,000, he says.
“As you go back, the value goes back,” Grisbaum says. He estimates the median price for a home in Ocean City is around $550,000.
Finding fun: While Ocean City might be lacking in alcohol, it makes up for it in clean, family fun. There is so much to do in the area at any time throughout the year. “We go from a summer vacation resort to a quiet winter getaway. You get the best of everything,” Grisbaum says.
A favorite hot spot for residents is the 2.5-mile boardwalk that features an amusement park, movie theaters, arcades, miniature golf, live entertainment and more. There is also a quaint downtown area packed with unique restaurants and shops. And, of course, there are outdoor activities such as fishing, surfing, biking, golfing, walking, as well as a host of sports clubs and sporting events to keep locals busy.
Adding to the appeal, Grisbaum says, is the city’s proximity to other popular places. “We’re close to Atlantic City, Philadelphia -- there are always things to do,” he says. And with an airport nearby, traveling a bit farther is made that much easier.
Tallying the cost of living: Grisbaum compares living in Ocean City to living in any other suburban city. Tax rates are reasonable, he says, and other daily expenses are not outrageous. In the summertime, prices in some tourist spots are a little more expensive, but that’s to be expected.
But the real draw, Grisbaum says, is not something that can be monetized. “We’re a family town -- it’s very safe and very peaceful, and that’s the best part.”