Michigan Beach Towns Rank Among Top Places to Live in U.S.

Michigan beach towns grabbed the first and fourth spots on WalletHub's list of best lake living cities. We love them, too – but also give props to eight more.

Living by the beach sounds more like a dream than reality, but for Michigan residents, it doesn’t have to be.

As long as you’re willing to take lake views instead of the ocean, you’re in luck in the Mitten state – not just for great places to visit on vacation, but for some of the very best places to lay down roots in the entire country.

WalletHub recently ranked the best beach towns to live in, and Michigan earned two of the top five spots when it comes to lake-based towns.

“Contrary to popular belief … many beach towns are suitable to everyday life – and easy on the wallet,” the financial site notes. It compared 192 cities “across 62 key indicators of livability” to find the best places to live near oceans and lakes.

Two top Michigan beach towns

The verdict? Traverse City came out at the very top of the lake beach towns rankings, earning the No. 1 spot after being rated on its affordability, weather, safety, economy, education, health and quality of life.

Traverse City is known to many metro Detroit dwellers for its sandy beaches, wineries, annual cherry festival and its nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The popular summer-getaway spot also has a happening downtown area with plenty of unique eateries and shops.

The next-best beach town in Michigan, according to WalletHub, is Holland, which came in at No. 4. Beyond the world-famous tulip festival, the Dutch heritage city is known for its beautiful beaches and sunsets, sand dunes and parks.

Eight more worthy contenders

Looking for other Michigan beach towns you might love to explore – or even move to one day? Consider these eight other places.

A boat in Alpena, Michigan
Photo from the Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes Facebook page

1. Alpena

This northern Michigan city came in at No. 18 on WalletHub’s best beach towns list. It boasts art galleries, a quaint downtown and wineries.

Fort Gratiot Light Museum in Port Huron
Photo of Fort Gratiot Light Station from Port Huron Museums’ Facebook page

2. Port Huron

This town was the 31st best beach town in the U.S., according to WalletHub. It’s home to lighthouses and the Blue Water Bridge.

Mackinac Island view of fort and bridge
Photo from Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau’s Facebook page

3. Mackinac Island

This carless island is popular for summer getaways, but you could also live there year-round. In 2017, 470 people did just that.

Grand Haven City Beach
Photo of Grand Haven City Beach from Grand Haven Area Visitors Center (visitgrandhaven.com)

4. Grand Haven

Explore beautiful state parks, a musical fountain and beaches at this Lake Michigan town.

Charlevoix beach view
Photo from Visit Charlevoix (visitcharlevoix.com)

5. Charlevoix

It’s another Michigan beach town many people know and love. Don’t miss the Mushroom House tours!

St. Clair Shores marina view at sunset
Photo by Gerri Gillipsie on City of St. Clair Shores’ Facebook page

6. St. Clair Shores

You don’t have to move hours north of the Motor City to make your home in a lakefront town, after all. Shores residents can enjoy waterfront parks, homes with lake access and all that the Nautical Mile has to offer.

Photo by maburns on Instagram via Visit Muskegon’s Facebook page

7. Muskegon

Submarine tours, parks and white sandy beaches make this town popular with vacationers and year-round residents.

Photo from St. Joseph Today’s Facebook page

8. St. Joseph

Another southwest Michigan city, this town has lighthouses that date back to the early 1900s and a historic restored merry-go-round.

What’s your favorite Michigan beach town? Tell us in the comments!


  1. I grew up near Detroit, and I have to agree about both St Clair Shores and Port Huron, because you do not have to live in the boondocks to enjoy some nice water!
    Both Algonac and New Baltimore are also on Lake St Clair.;
    I live near Tampa now, and own a roof cleaning business here. But guess where I am going to retire at ?
    It will be in Michigan, and not here in Florida!


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