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Springsteen's Backyard: 9 Jersey Shore Retirement Spots

03/12/2014 07:19 am ET | Updated May 12, 2014

New Jersey means many different things to people, particularly it seems for those who don't live there. Some people think of Bruce Springsteen. Others (sadly) associate New Jersey's coastline with Snooki, J-Wow, The Situation and a cadre of unsavory drunks. Still, others think about all the hokey politics and falls from grace that have been the hallmark of the Jersey political scene since, well, forever. And others associate New Jersey with the horrible disaster that was wreaked upon it by Hurricane Sandy. But for Jersey residents, there's nothing better than "Going down the shore".

Want to better understand what the Boss was singing about all the time? If you are thinking about where you might like to retire and want an area with four seasons and beaches, then the Jersey Shore is a great option. One word of caution: New Jersey taxes are high, so you'll have to factor that in. Also, if you hail from other parts of the U.S., you may find the prices in the northeast a little hard to swallow.

People in the northeast have long known about the many splendors of the Jersey Shore. New Jersey has 130 miles of primo sandy Atlantic coastline. Day trips to either Manhattan or Philadelphia are doable from almost any part of the shore. What also makes the area great is the diversity of communities. Unlike the Hamptons that tend to be rather homogeneous (aka lots of people with lots of money), the beach towns along the Jersey Shore have a ton of variety of both amenities, price points, and culture.

Whether you like to hoist some beers and watch a football game, go antiquing and enjoy fine restaurants, bike, walk or just sit on the beautiful beaches and read a book, there is a perfect town for you in coastal New Jersey.

On our retirement location planning site, GangsAway! we have a ton of data and information for sourcing your retirement spot. So let's work our way "down the shore" and highlight our Top Eight Retirement Spots. We've included a mix of different price points so there is an option for all.

One of the hallmarks of the shore is that much of it was settled in the 1800s so there is an abundance of charming Victorian homes and mansions all along the coast.

Ocean City: With eight miles of shoreline, you can walk the beach forever. The boardwalk runs for two and a half miles along the ocean and is filled with candy shops, ice cream stands, and other attractions. Quaint and charming and "dry". That's right, no alcohol, so no drunken hooligans. And it's right around the corner from charming Cape May when you need a change of scenery.

Monmouth Beach: Nineteenth-century Victorian homes and seaside mansions once belonging to yesteryears' wealthy abound. Wide open beaches and a great place for water sports. Beware, this is a pretty expensive place to live and buy a home. But if you have the money, it's oh so pretty.

Ocean Grove: About an hour from New York City, walking through Ocean Grove is like stepping back in time and is the antithesis of the Jersey Shore TV show. With gingerbread cottages lining the streets, Ocean Grove was founded by the Methodists in 1869 for tent revival meetings. About 100 of those tent homes still exist with a long waiting list of would-be dwellers. Slow pace and charming and not a bar in sight.

ocean grove

Cape May: Charm, charm, charm. This is one of the oldest resort towns in the country and through great planning has kept the integrity of the town intact by keeping big box stores out and fostering smaller entrepreneurs. Beautiful old Victorian homes and a thriving foodie scene, with restaurant after restaurant, make this an irresistible place. There are charming old arcades by the beach, and the beach itself is gorgeous. Very quiet in off season but the population swells during peak summer months.

Stone Harbor: Quiet and laid back but just a stone's throw from bustling Atlantic City if you need some action or a game of blackjack one weekend. Stone Harbor is actually on an island and has white sandy beaches and loads of small shops for ice cream or pancakes.

Point Pleasant: This is a place for people who like boating and fishing. It's not right on the ocean, but close enough so you can get there in a few minutes and, consequently, it's not overrun with summer tourists. You get ocean, bay and river access. The town has the usual shops but then also many that cater to boaters and fisherman. You'll find many more housing price points than those towns directly on the ocean.

point pleasant

Bay Head: They call it a "Country Village by the Sea", which is an appropriate name. Beautiful cottage-lined beaches create a quaint vista. Swimming, boating, kayaking and the adjacent Barnegat Bay provide a the perfect place for sailing, waterskiing, and windsurfing.

Spring Lake: This is a town with elegant, quiet beaches and New Jersey's longest non-commercial boardwalk with an actual Lake (hence the name) in the middle of the town. There are great B & B's thoughout and charming tree lined streets with great small store shopping and restaurants.

Sea Girt: Only one square mile in total, this small town charm comes with a boardwalk and a high number of year-round residents. There is plenty to do and of course those beautiful beaches.

Are you a fan of the Jersey Shore (the beach, not the TV show)? Please let us know if you have your own ideas or advice, either here below in the comments section or on the GangsAway! discussion boards.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

AARP's Top 10 Quirky Places to Retire