This Small Beach Town Is 'Florida's Most Relaxing Place' — and It's One of the Best Destinations to Buy a Beach House in the U.S.

Its slogan used to be "Florida's best-kept secret."

Florida has no shortage of vibrant beach towns and cities with top-notch entertainment, buzzy nightlife, and excellent restaurants that welcome both vacationers and second-home owners year-round. However, if you're looking for a peaceful place to invest in a vacation home in the Sunshine State, and have a limited budget, skip the popular spots along the Gold Coast, like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and instead focus your search in the small community of Navarre Beach, located about 45 minutes from Pensacola, on Santa Rosa Island.

Navarre Beach is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches and its fishing pier, which is the longest in Florida.

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Dubbed "Florida's most relaxing place," this tranquil town of about 1,500 was recently named one of the best spots to buy a beach vacation rental by Vacasa. The company points out the median home sale price in the area is $382,392. Additionally, second-home owners in Navarre Beach can make roughly $43,200 in annual rental income, with a cap rate of 6.6 percent, according to Vacasa.

"Navarre Beach has a relatively low cost of living compared to other beach destinations in Florida. The housing market is affordable and offers excellent value for money, making it an appealing option for those looking to buy a beach house," Leda Broxson of Scenic Sotheby's International Realty and a longtime Navarre area resident told Travel + Leisure.

Spanish explorers settled this idyllic corner on Florida's Emerald Coast in the 17th century. Despite being close to popular destinations like Destin, it remains one of Florida's best-kept secrets (in fact, that was the town's previous slogan). Once visitors cross the Navarre Beach Causeway, which connects the town to Florida's mainland, they're transported to a serene hideaway with miles of unspoiled and undeveloped beachfront. Quartz particles washed down from the Appalachian Mountains millions of years ago make up the soft, white sand in the area. Coupled with the ocean's glistening emerald waters, it creates quite the spectacular setting.

Welcome to Navarre Beach city sign by road street in urban town or village at Gulf of Mexico, Florida Panhandle of Emerald Coast

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"Navarre Beach boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With soft, white sand and crystal-clear water, it's the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. The beach is also less crowded compared to other popular beach destinations in Florida, making it a more peaceful and private location to own a beach house," Broxson explained.

Sandwiched between Navarre Beach Marine Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore, the town draws outdoor enthusiasts seeking abundant water adventures, hikes, bird-watching, beachcombing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. It's also home to the longest fishing pier in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico — 1,545 feet — where anglers flock to try their luck at catching some of the many species of fish (whiting, redfish, blackfin tuna, and pompano) that live here.

While Navarre Beach has largely stayed under the radar, the town is becoming increasingly popular with vacationers. Santa Rosa County, where Navarre Beach is located, has doubled its bed tax revenue since 2016.

Condominium towers line the coast at Navarre Beach, Florida, part of the "Emerald Coast" along Florida's panhandle.

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So, how do you find your ideal slice of Navarre Beach paradise?

While working with a local real estate agent is a must, Broxson also notes that before making an offer, you should consider a few important factors that may impact your budget.

"Coastal properties in Florida are prone to flooding and hurricanes. Make sure to factor in the cost of insurance when determining your budget," she recommended. Consider annual repair costs, too, since beach houses need regular maintenance due to exposure to saltwater and sand.

"We see a lot of deferred maintenance on beach homes. I guess few people want to work while visiting their beach home. However, it's important to note that regular maintenance and upkeep can help prevent many of these repair issues from becoming major problems," Broxson said. Lastly, understand the millage rate for the area so you can calculate your property taxes.

Naturally, the most sought-after residences in Navarre Beach are Gulf-front homes with amenities such as private pools, large living room areas for entertaining, and great sunset views," Broxson said. She explained that current rates for waterfront residences average $1,263 per foot, while off-beach homes go for $700 per foot.

"Because this is a barrier island, Navarre Beach also has canals, so if you're a boater, you can have a waterfront home with a boat dock and still be within walking distance to the Gulf of Mexico," she added.

Ultimately, Navarre Beach's appeal with vacationers and real estate investors is that it offers plenty of privacy and unspoiled natural beauty — features that have become increasingly rare and valuable in Florida's hot home-buying market.

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