An insider’s guide to the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Early 2024 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast brought a unique home-buying landscape, marked by stable prices, enhanced safety measures for agents, and increased visibility during local festivities.

Springtime Home Buying Analysis

As spring rolls in, buyers across the country are typically caught up in a home-buying rush. However, the Mississippi Gulf Coast may paint a different picture.

Contrary to the 5% price increase forecasted by Business Insider for the national market, our local real estate scene hints at stability (with a chance of prices gently declining). Understanding the distinct characteristics of our coastal market is key, as broad predictions don't always apply here.

Waterfront Open House: Your Next Home or Getaway

Join me for an open house at a practical waterfront property located in Pass Christian, right on Johnsons Bayou. This cozy getaway includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and is perfect for those who appreciate simplicity and waterfront living.

Whether you're in the market for a new home, an investment opportunity, or a serene retreat, this property is worth considering. With its no-nonsense appeal, it could be exactly what you're looking for!

Make a Strong First Impression

When it comes to selling your home, never underestimate the power of a good first impression. Even small, budget-friendly tweaks can make a dramatic difference in how potential buyers perceive your property.

I recently convinced a client to hold off on listing a home until we could complete some minor cosmetic updates. This strategic pause ensures the property looks its best, aiming to captivate buyers from the get-go.

Tools for Enhancing Agent Safety

In a proactive move to boost real estate agent safety, the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors has introduced Forewarn. This potential life-saving service empowers agents to check the criminal backgrounds of potential clients using just their phone numbers.

This is a meaningful step toward ensuring agent safety, especially for females who frequently face risks when meeting new clients. Thank you, GCAR and Forewarn!

Mardi Gras Boosts Property Views

Mardi Gras is ending, but it's brought a noticeable bump in property tours along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Why? All the extra people around mean more eyeballs looking at available properties.

Here's a pro tip for home sellers in Mississippi: When practical, align your property listing date with big local events like Mardi Gras or Cruisin' the Coast. This strategy can help your property land on the MLS 'Hot Sheet,' catching the attention of more potential buyers while foot traffic is at its peak.

Client Appreciation

Huge shoutout to my amazing clients! Together, we've rocked January, landing me in the prestigious second spot on our office leaderboard. Your trust and partnership are the real MVPs here.

Thank you, thank you!

Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers an affordable coastal lifestyle with a high quality of life.  The region's economic outlook, affordable cost of living, and enticing tax benefits make it appealing to both young professionals and retirees.

This article highlights the pros and cons of living on the Mississippi Coast and why more and more people are moving here. We'll cover our mouth-watering seafood cuisine, charming coastal towns, outdoor activities, and entertainment options.

5 Benefits of Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The hidden treasures of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are getting more challenging to hide. With top rankings in housing affordability and lowest cost of living, our region offers a cost-effective option for those seeking an excellent standard of living

Residents and visitors alike enjoy our Southern cuisine classics, explore the rich heritage and charm of coastal towns, embrace endless outdoor activities, and enjoy top-notch entertainment and leisure opportunities. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is your gateway to an extraordinary and laid-back lifestyle.

1. Gulf Coast delights: seafood and comfort food galore

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a food lover's paradise. With an abundance of legendary seafood restaurants, you can savor the freshest gulf shrimp, oysters, and fish. The region's Southern cuisine classics, such as roast beef po' boys and barbecues, will surely leave you feeling satisfied. 

Don't miss out on popular seafood spots like Trapani's Eatery, Mary Mahoney's, Mignon's Steaks & Seafood, The Reef, and Taranto's Crawfish, serving mouth-watering dishes.

2. Experience Southern hospitality at its finest

Southern hospitality is at its best on the MS Gulf Coast. Newcomers will discover delightful small towns, friendly locals, and deep history with welcoming people and a sense of community. 

A few of our towns have even made "best of " lists.  For example, Bay St. Louis was named one of the best small towns to live in the United States.

Down here, we're all family.

Explore museums, historic sites, and landmarks that showcase our region's diverse past, including Beauvoir, Biloxi Lighthouse, and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. These cultural centers showcase the authentic Southern allure of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Biloxi Lighthouse at Night

3. We cherish and indulge in our natural wonders

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a nature lover's paradise, offering endless outdoor activities. From cruising the beaches and dolphin watching to exploring the largest outdoor natural amusement park at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, adventure seekers will be spoiled for choice. 

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and wildlife viewing, while thrill-seekers can go fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and camping. The Pascagoula River, the largest free-flowing river in the continental United States, is a must-see destination for those who want to experience the beauty and wonder of nature.

4. The perfect balance of entertainment and leisure

From plush casinos to world-class golf courses, our Gulf South region is a haven for gamers and thrill-seekers.  Enjoy gambling, sports betting, entertainment, and dining at the best casinos, including Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Palace Casino Resort.

Sports enthusiasts can tee off at renowned golf courses like Fallen Oak Golf Course and Shell Landing Golf Club for an unforgettable experience. And if you enjoy a slower pace of life, head to Biloxi Beach to soak up some rays and watch the local kiteboarders catching air.

Gulf Coast Kite Boarder

5. Cities recognized as the best places to live in the U.S.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the standard of living on the MS Gulf Coast has improved dramatically.  And things are still looking up.  Mississippi ranks 22nd in economic outlook, an improvement from 27th in 2022.

In addition to economic improvements, education is also improving.  Dramatic increases in 4th-grade reading level proficiency proved that, although we have a long way to go, the state is on the right track.

Some of our cities have even been recognized nationally as one of the best places to live in Mississippi.  Bay St. Louis has earned several positive national designations, including America's 2nd Best Small Coastal Town in America.

4 Reasons People Move to the Gulf Coast

With affordable living options and enticing tax benefits, the Gulf Coast is a refuge for young professionals and retirees looking to relocate. Visitors come to appreciate our rich culture and diverse communities, highlighted by popular festivals and events throughout the year.

And many of them never leave!

We're spoiled with a pleasant year-round climate, mild winters, and warm summers tempered by refreshing Gulf breezes. And recent education improvements have elevated the Gulf Coast's reputation as a hub for quality schools and universities.

1. Mississippi enjoys the title of "most affordable place to live"

Moving to the Magnolia State is an attractive option for small families seeking to avoid the high costs of big cities.  Compared to other states, the average cost of living in Mississippi is the lowest in the entire country.  Retirees looking for a comfortable lifestyle on a fixed income also flock to our inviting communities and relatively low crime rate.

For example, Mississippi's tax benefits (such as no state income tax on Social Security benefits or qualified retirement income) make it an even more appealing choice for older Americans. With the low cost of living and numerous affordable housing options, the Gulf Coast offers the opportunity to save big without sacrificing happiness and fulfillment.

2. A vibrant culture of arts and festivals

With popular festivals like Mardi Gras, Cruisin' The Coast, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, newcomers can experience our diverse and inclusive culture firsthand. These events celebrate our blend of backgrounds and influences, including African American, French, Spanish, Native American, Vietnamese, and Croatian. 

Each of our communities showcases its local artistic style. For instance, at the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, you can immerse yourself in the art scene of Ocean Springs.

MS Gulf Coast Art

3. MS Gulf Coast boasts comfortable year-round temperatures

We enjoy mild winters and warm summers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with average winter lows around 40°F and highs around 60°F. And although humidity can be a bit high, the refreshing Gulf breeze helps to keep the heat in check. 

In summer, the average high is around 90°F. But with lows of around 70°F, it's still bearable. Overall, the Gulf Coast's climate is comfortable year-round, making it an ideal location for those who prefer milder temperatures.

Improved graduation rates and college readiness

Last year, Mississippi's overall education ranking improved from 49th to 44th in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. This rise is due to increased student graduation rates, test scores, and college readiness

And with many educational stats that are better than the national average, the Gulf Coast re

Mississippi Education Statistics

Families looking for quality education will find some of the best public and private schools in the state, along with several colleges and universities. These include Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus, William Carey University Tradition Campus, and Tulane University Biloxi Campus. 

William Carey University Tradition Campus

William Cary University Tradition Campus

Cons of Gulf Coast Living in Mississippi

Let's talk cons of living in Mississippi, specifically the Gulf Coast.  While unpredictable weather can pose challenges, years of practice and preparation have led to measures that mitigate the impact of severe storms and flooding. And if the worst happens, Mississippians rally around each other to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

And while the Mississippi Gulf Coast has no major metropolitan areas, we are home to many notable companies. Furthermore, quick access to nearby cities provides additional cultural, entertainment, and business opportunities within a short drive from the coast.

The Gulf Coast's unpredictable and extreme weather

The Gulf Coast offers many benefits, but the region's fierce weather events can be challenging and turn-off to some people. During hurricane season, from June to November, we monitor severe storms in the Gulf.

Hurricanes pose the biggest threat to locals that live on or near the Gulf of Mexico and waterways. But since Hurricane Katrina, flood elevation requirements have been introduced that significantly reduce the impact of storms and flooding.

For the vast majority of MS Gulf Coast residents that don't live near the water, storms are no more than a short-term inconvenience.

While the weather can be unpredictable, Southern Mississippi remains a beautiful and vibrant place to live. The chance of a generational storm every 20 or 30 years is well worth the risk.

A good place for business, but no major metropolitan cities

Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast may limit access to major metropolitan areas, but we still host big businesses. Notable companies operating on the MS Gulf Coast include Ingalls Shipbuilding, Keesler Air Force Base, and Stennis Space Center. 

Biloxi, the largest city on the Gulf Coast, may have fewer large companies compared to major metropolitan areas, but it still has a bustling hospitality and retail industry. Additionally, coastal Mississippi residents enjoy convenient access to nearby cities like New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. And the white sandy beaches of Florida are only a couple hours' drive away.

Want to Live in Mississippi? We'd Love to Have You

Living in Coastal Mississippi offers an affordable coastal lifestyle with an excellent standard of living. We provide enticing tax benefits, mouth-watering seafood cuisine, sportsman activities, and numerous entertainment options.

Despite extreme weather, the community's resilience and access to nearby cities like New Orleans create endless opportunities and adventures (let me tell ya...). The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a hidden gem, combining affordability, natural beauty, rich culture, and a strong sense of community.

Have you visited the coastal region of the Magnolia state or moved here recently?  Do you live out of state but have considered a move to Mississippi? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

Those blessed enough to live in a Mississippi Gulf Coast community (or visit one) know that the ocean generously fills our plates. Down here, there's a deep connection between residents and the sea.

Join me on this culinary journey to explore the flavors, stories, and heritage of the MS Gulf Coast that make this area so unique.

Coastal Cuisine: A Fusion of History, Culture, & Seafood

Mississippi Gulf Coast Fishing Boat

From the bustling fishing ports of New England to the vibrant coastal cities of the Gulf Coast, every seaside region has its own distinct style of cooking that reflects its unique heritage. Mississippi's coastal cuisine is a culinary experience that combines the rich flavors of the sea with the influences of local history and culture.

With fresh catches of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans taking center stage in many dishes, flavors of the sea are celebrated in all their glory.

From the early settlers who first arrived on America's shores to the immigrant communities that have added their own flavors to the mix, each chapter in our coastal cuisine's story adds depth and complexity to the dishes we enjoy today. Some notable influences include Native American, African, French, and Spanish.

These varied influences have shaped the culinary traditions of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, resulting in a unique fusion of flavors that spans many dishes.

Culinary Influences From Local Geographic Regions

Mississippi's version of Alabama White BBQ sauce

From Texas to Florida, the Greater Gulf South is home to a unique blend of flavors influenced by seafood, spices, and cultural fusion. Mississippi cooking reflects regional influences from neighboring states, particularly evident in coastal dishes.

Louisiana, perhaps the most influential neighbor, heavily imprints its creole and cajun essence onto Mississippi cooking. Dishes like etouffee, jambalaya, and the shared love for crawfish can be directly traced to Louisiana's vibrant food culture.

The spices, roux-based sauces, and use of the holy trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery) are quintessentially Louisianan but happily adopted by Mississippi chefs.

Texas contributes to the bold flavors of Mississippi cuisine, with elements like barbecue techniques and spicy seasonings seeping into local cooking. Soul food like barbecue ribs and potato salad are staples in cities like Biloxi and Gulfport, but the dry rubs reflect Texan techniques.

Alabama shares a deep southern culinary heritage with Mississippi, particularly concerning the shared affinity for seafood like shrimp and oysters. Some MS locals even favor Alabama's iconic white barbecue sauce (a mayonnaise and vinegar-based concoction), frequently drizzling it on their seafood and chicken. A Mississippi-based sauce company is even trying to one-up the Alabama-based formula.

Florida lends a Caribbean and Spanish flair to Mississippi's dishes. For instance, gumbo variations in Mississippi sometimes mirror the Cuban and Spanish influences in Floridian cuisine. Additionally, using citrus (particularly oranges and grapefruits in marinades and sauces) is a nod to Florida's tropical palate.

Coastal Delicacies and Speciality Dishes

From the crispy allure of shrimp po-boys to the deep-rooted history of gumbo, Mississippi dishes tell a story of broad influences and palates. This melting pot of cuisines promises a compelling experience for seafood lovers and adventurous foodies.

Let's take a deep dive into some of the most popular dishes across Mississippi Gulf Coast communities.

You must try the irresistible shrimp po-boy

Shrimp Po Boy - Mississippi Gulf Coast Cuisine

The shrimp po-boy is a beloved coastal delight, the perfect combination of crispy fried shrimp and soft French bread. Whether you're a seafood lover or just looking to try something new, this sandwich is a must-try dish when visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The star of this sandwich is the succulent shrimp, which are coated in a crispy batter and deep-fried to perfection. The shrimp are then nestled inside a fluffy French bread roll, which acts as a vessel for all the delicious toppings.

To add a burst of flavor, chefs frequently slather shrimp po-boys in a zesty remoulade sauce. This creamy sauce is made with mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, and a blend of spices, creating a tangy and slightly spicy taste that perfectly complements the shrimp.

Chiefs then dress the sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise (or, like me, you can eat it plain with American cheese). Pair it with a Barq's root beer (in the glass bottle, of course), and it can't be beaten.

Experience the vibrant and flavorful delight of jambalaya

Gulf Coast Cuisine - Jambalaya

Food experts much brighter than me describe jambalaya as a combination of Spanish, French, and African cuisines. It features a mix of meat, such as chicken, sausage, and shrimp, along with vegetables like bell peppers, onions, celery, and sometimes tomatoes.

The dish gets bold flavors from aromatic spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. These spices infuse the dish with a rich and complex taste that will make you return for more.

One of the highlights of Jambalaya is its versatility. You can customize the dish to your liking by adding your favorite protein and vegetables. Whereas the Creole version of jambalaya favors shrimp (and tomatoes), the Cajun version opts for chicken and/or sausage.

The cooking process involves sautéing the meat and vegetables, then adding rice and broth. Then, you simmer the mixture until the flavors meld together. The result is a mouthwatering dish that is bursting with flavor.

Deliciously crispy soft-shell crab: a Gulf Coast delicacy

Gulf Coast Fried Soft Shell Crab Po Boy

The soft-shell crab is simply a crab that has recently molted its old shell, leaving behind a soft and pliable shell that you eat whole. This makes it easy to consume every part of the crab, including the legs, body, and claws.

Chefs prepare soft-shell crab in various ways, such as deep-fried, sautéed, or grilled. Each cooking method brings out different flavors and textures in the crab.

The crispy exterior and tender interior of a deep-fried soft-shell crab combine to create a satisfying crunch with every bite while sautéing the crab in butter or olive oil allows the flavors to meld together and gives the crab a rich and savory taste. Grilling the crab imparts a smoky flavor while maintaining the natural sweetness of the crab meat.

You frequently enjoy soft-shell crab as a main dish. However, some prefer to incorporate the tasty crustaceans into sandwiches, salads, or pasta dishes for variety. Its versatility and unique flavor make it popular among adventurous Mississippi seafood lovers.

The flavorful melting pot that is Mississippi gumbo

Homemade MS Gumbo with Potato Salad

Gumbo is a beloved Mississippi dish that originated in Louisiana. This flavorful stew is a melting pot of traditions, reflecting the ethnicities that have shaped the region over the centuries.

You can trace the origins of gumbo back to West Africa, where a similar dish called okra soup was common. When African slaves were brought to Louisiana, they adapted their traditional recipes to the readily available ingredients.

As time went on, other peoples contributed to the evolution of gumbo. For instance, French settlers in Louisiana introduced roux, a mixture of flour and fat that thickens the stew and adds a rich flavor.

Native Americans added filé powder, made from ground sassafras leaves, which acts as a natural thickener and imparts a striking flavor. Spanish and Caribbean influences brought ingredients like tomatoes and hot peppers, adding a spicy kick.

Savoring the depths of crawfish etouffee

With tender crawfish tails, onions, bell peppers, and a roux-based base, crawfish etouffee embodies flavor and depth. Its rich and savory sauce makes it perfect for seafood lovers looking for an aromatic and delicious meal.

The first step in making crawfish etouffee is to sauté the onions, bell peppers, and celery in a skillet until they are soft and translucent. Next, add the crawfish tails to the skillet and cook them until they are pink and cooked through.

To finish the etouffee, season it with salt, pepper, and a generous amount of Cajun seasoning. This seasoning blend will give it a spicy kick that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the crawfish.

Serve the mixture over a bed of steamed rice (or, in my house, grits) and garnish with green onions for a beautiful presentation.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Crawfish Etouffee

As a native Mississippian, I've had the pleasure of experiencing the best foods in all of our distinctive coastal communities. From Bay St. Louis to Ocean Springs, each region has unique culinary traditions and popular dishes.

The delights of locally sourced Bay St. Louis cuisine

Bay St. Louis Seafood - Crabs

Bay St. Louis shines as a captivating coastal town celebrated for its abundant local delicacies and vibrant communal spirit. BSL restaurants prepare innumerable fresh seafood dishes directly on the Gulf of Mexico.

The local restaurants take pride in using locally sourced ingredients and creating dishes that highlight the flavors of the Gulf Coast. Whether you're in the mood for a casual seafood boil at Dan B's, or a fancy seafood platter at Trapani's Eatery, Bay St. Louis has something to satisfy every palate.

A large part of the Bay St. Louis charm is the inviting downtown area. That's where you'll find the majority of the notable restaurants. The atmosphere and downtown vibe are reminiscent of New Orleans without the big city problems.

Biloxi bounty: a Gulf Coast culinary paradise

Biloxi Seafood Market Crabs

From fresh Gulf shrimp to succulent oysters and flaky fish, Biloxi cuisine has something to satisfy every seafood craving. The city's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico ensures the seafood is always fresh and flavorful.

One of the best ways to experience Biloxi's seafood scene is by visiting one of the many local seafood markets. These markets offer a wide range of tasty seafood, including shrimp, crab, and oysters. You can even watch as the fish is cleaned and prepared right before you.

But Biloxi offers more than just seafood. Traditional Southern fare thrives here, with mouthwatering dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread in warm, homey settings. Soul food establishments beckon with aromas of slow-cooked pork, tangy barbecue, and hearty stews.

Biloxi's bakeries and dessert parlors are a treat for those with a sweet tooth. Classic Southern pecan pies, beignets dusted with powdered sugar, and rich bread puddings drizzled with bourbon sauce showcase the region's penchant for indulgent desserts.

Add to this an emerging scene of international eateries and modern fusion restaurants, and it's clear that Biloxi's culinary landscape is as varied as its cultural roots. So, while seafood might be Biloxi's crown jewel, the city's expansive menu of delectable options ensures every palate finds its pleasure.

The freedom of flavors in vibrant Long Beach

Long Beach Barbecue

Long Beach, Mississippi, boasts a rich culinary resume that extends far beyond the standard seafood offerings. This charming coastal town has many gastronomic delights catering to diverse palates.

Barbecue joints in Long Beach slow-cook their meats to perfection, letting diners savor every tender, flavorful pork, chicken, and beef bite. They pair these yummy meats with classic sides such as coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread.

Bakeries and cafes enchant sweet-toothed visitors with decadent cakes, pies, and pastries (many of which incorporate rich, local ingredients). Additionally, various eateries serve up scrumptious plates of Southern classics like fried chicken, collard greens, and mashed potatoes, capturing the essence of homestyle cooking.

From food trucks serving gourmet snacks to cozy diners and upscale establishments, Long Beach cooking accommodates a spectrum of tastes and dining experiences.

Gulfport's global flavors meet Southern charm

Gulfport MS Ethnic Food - Mexican

It’s not just about traditional fare in Gulfport. This Mississippi city has a wide range of international restaurants, so variety is the name of the game.

Piquant Mexican taco spots, homestyle Italian pizzerias, and vibrant Asian eateries reflect the multicultural essence of the city. Be sure to check out El Aguila, which specializes in gourmet Mexican dishes and award-winning margaritas.

Take advantage of the bakeries serving delectable pastries, from creamy Mississippi mud pies to crunchy pralines. And breakfast enthusiasts can revel in fluffy biscuits topped with velvety gravy or buttery grits paired with spicy sausage.

The array of eateries in Gulfport offers a culinary journey that showcases a world of flavors rooted in Southern hospitality.

Delicious coastal cuisine and variety in Diamondhead

Diamondhead MS Cuisine - BBQ Shrimp

A casual dining experience and culinary variety make Diamondhead a popular spot for food lovers looking to avoid the crowds. The town has ample restaurants, from casual bayfront cafes to upscale dining establishments.

Visitors indulge in local favorites like shrimp and grits or freshly caught fish cooked to perfection. If seafood isn't your thing, you can still find eateries specializing in Italian, Mexican, or Chinese fare.

The town also hosts annual food festivals, attracting amateur and professional cooks. These popular events showcase the best local cuisine, including barbecue, craft beer, and red beans and rice.

Whether you're a Gulf Coast resident who hasn't experienced Diamondhead eats or are just in town for a visit, this growing city's culinary offerings won't disappoint.

The award-winning culinary treasures of Ocean Springs

Award-winning Gulf Coast Cuisine in Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs is known for its vibrant arts scene, picturesque downtown, and charming community. But its budding culinary scene is frequently overlooked, as locals keep this secret close to the vest.

The truth is, from award-winning restaurants to cozy cafes, Ocean Springs is a food lover's paradise.

Local chefs Alex Perr and Kumi Omori from Vestige were named 2023 finalists for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in the South award (previous winners include Emeril Lagasse and Anthony Bourdain). This farm-to-table restaurant specializes in inventive Southern gourmet dishes.

And be sure to check out Patrick's Seafood Restaurant, which recently won the Best Taste award at the annual Taste of Ocean Springs Food Crawl. This year, they claimed the prize for their irresistible baked stuffed shrimp with seafood sauce.

Whether you're craving fresh seafood, international flavors, or Southern comfort food, you'll find it all in Ocean Springs. And with the town's emphasis on supporting local businesses, you can feel good about every bite.

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