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What It's Like to Live in a Beach Town
Locals share the perks and drawbacks of living in 5 beachside cities
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the iconic Northeast beach town. The 413-square-foot peninsula, with its 560 miles of shoreline, boasts some of the most pristine beaches perfect for kicking back and relaxing.
Bill DeSousa-Mauk lives in Osterville, one of the villages in the town of Barnstable in the Mid Cape, and has lived there for 18 years. Originally from New York City, he remembers visiting the Cape as a child and falling in love. “The fall colors and beautiful scenery -- it was a refuge to get away from the big city,” he says.
Getting around: In the summertime, DeSousa-Mauk says, congestion on the roads is “a way of life.” With only two bridges connecting Cape Cod to the mainland, traffic is to be expected, especially on the weekends. “If everyone is leaving to come down at 5 p.m. on Friday, there will be a lot of traffic,” he says. “But if you time your travel right, it’s not a problem.”
Getting around locally, however, is another story. While the bus system isn’t the preferred method of transportation, Desousa-Mauk says bike riding is popular and efficient. “We have over 110 miles of dedicated bike trails. And you don’t have to worry about parking because a lot of beaches don’t have big parking lots,” he says.
Owning a home: It’s hard to say specifically the average home price in Cape Cod because all the towns are so different. But DeSousa-Mauk estimates the average cost to own a home in Barnstable, for instance, is around $350,000.
In other parts of the Cape, however, prices can be more than $1 million, and properties on the water are even pricier.
Finding fun: DeSousa-Mauk can go on for hours about all the fun there is to be had in the Cape. He cites outdoor activities -- walks on the beach, kayaking, whale watching, lighthouse peeping, surfing, sailing, bird watching, photography -- as the most enjoyable. But beyond that, he says there is much more.
“I’ve lived here almost 20 years: I go exploring every weekend, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’m always discovering something new,” DeSousa-Mauk says.
Tallying the cost of living: While Cape Cod isn’t the most expensive place to live, it certainly isn’t the most affordable place either. DeSousa-Mauk says it’s less expensive than New York, Boston and even South Hampton, but he admits you need to make a good living to live comfortably in Cape Cod.
On the other hand, he says, residents save a lot of money on entertainment because they have it all at their fingertips. There is something to do right in their back yards every day year-round.
“We don’t have palm trees. We don’t have Disneyland. What we have to share here is something American -- something pristine,” DeSousa-Mauk says.
Rachel Wise, FrontDoor.com