8 Dreamy Beach Towns for Entrepreneurs

If you can work from anywhere, why not work from paradise?

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Charleston SC
iStockPhoto/Sean Pavone

One of the best perks of entrepreneurial life is the freedom to take your career with you wherever you go. When you're your own boss, your office can be whichever city you choose to park your laptop. Which begs the question: if you can work from anywhere, why not work from paradise?

Luckily for location-independent entrepreneurs, the U.S. is full of beautiful beach towns with thriving creative communities and surprisingly vibrant tech scenes. In postcard-perfect settings like these, you can network and hustle by day, and live the vacation life by night. 

1. Charleston, South Carolina

This photogenic city is a whole lot more than an Instagrammer’s paradise. (Though we must admit, it does look ridiculously charming on the ‘gram.) Known as Silicon Harbor, Charleston is a hub for more than 250 tech companies that have created thousands of IT jobs over the past few years.

If you're building a tech company of your own, you'll be in good company in Charleston. Startups like BiblioLabs, a software company that uses technology to make public domain literature more accessible; and Soteria, a company that mobilizes former hackers to keep your tech secure, have found their homes here. Charleston’s Harbor Entrepreneur Center, as well as other local initiatives and co-working spaces, help encourage local startups to keep on growing.

2. Sarasota, Florida

This creative haven is known for sugar sand beaches that are regularly ranked as some of the most beautiful in the world. More importantly for entrepreneurs, however, is that Sarasota has a long history of nurturing creativity and new, offbeat ideas. The town was long home to the off-season training facility for The Ringling Bros. Circus (yes, clown school!) and the local arts scene is thriving.

Sarasota’s growing population and business-friendly tax policies make it the perfect place to park your laptop. The Ringling College Of Art And Design, the New College of Florida and other educational institutions bring fresh talent to Sarasota every year, and the recent opening of HuB, a major co-working space and innovation center, means you’ll never be short of networking opportunities.

3. Asbury Park, New Jersey

Asbury Park’s historic music scene put stars like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi on the map. After a few decades of decline, this Jersey Shore community is enjoying a well-deserved comeback. The Asbury Hotel, the first new hotel to go up in Asbury Park in over 50 years, opened its doors in 2016. This helped open the floodgates for a new wave of tourists, businesses and residents. 

The city is an especially great spot for entrepreneurs who specialize in creative fields. Up-and-coming musicians play in cozy bars on every block, and artists flock to the boardwalk. The scene is growing so quickly that Cowerks, Asbury Park’s leading co-working space, recently expanded to accommodate all the freelancers and remote workers who utilize the space. 

4. Camden, Maine

With a population of less than 5,000, Camden packs a powerful punch for its size. The city hosts three major annual cultural events: PopTech, a conference celebrating change makers; the Camden Conference, which fosters discussion on global issues; and the Camden International Film Festival. These events are indicative of the culture here: collaborative, creative and forward-thinking. In other words? Ideal for entrepreneurs.

The local Camden Opera House and other venues play host to regular networking meetings and entrepreneurship talks, and locals are known for their eagerness to talk shop with their neighbors. It also doesn’t hurt that Camden’s tranquil waterfronts are all kinds of gorgeous — perfect for unplugging and clearing your mind before going back to the drawing board (or laptop screen).

5. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is more than a place to gawk at beautiful summer homes. The city has its eye on attracting new tech talent, and is going the extra mile to make sure the community is welcoming to entrepreneurs. Newport is currently in the process of launching Innovate Newport, an incubator and accelerator space housed in a former public school. The space is focused on encouraging entrepreneurship in the fields of marine science, environmentalism and cybersecurity, so if your startup focuses on any of those areas, you'd be wise to head to Newport to set up shop.

Newport’s entrepreneurial wave is just beginning, so it’s the perfect time to get in on the ground floor and create something great, with the support of the city and the local community behind you.

6. Santa Barbara, California

This idyllic coastal town is nicknamed Silicon Beach, and for good reason. Several recent Santa Barbara businesses have attracted millions in funding, and local entrepreneurs show no sign of slowing down. Well-known companies like LyndaTransphormCitrixProCore and Sonos either got their start in Santa Barbara or currently call the city home.

City of Alexandria, VA
Photo by Flickr user sikeri

Best Cities for Entrepreneurs

On our second list with Entrepreneur magazine, we examine the best places in the country to start a business.

UC Santa Barbara has a high-quality computer science program that feeds talent into local startups, and organizations like The Sandbox Santa Barbara and StartupSB help new businesses in the area grow, connect and thrive. And let's not forget the fact that Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and locals here know a thing or two about work-life balance.

7. Traverse City, Michigan

This tiny town on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay is mostly known for its (very tasty) annual cherry festival, but it’s also a fantastic place to grow your tech business. A cutting edge tech incubator, 20Fathoms, recently opened in town, and the area has become a popular spot for remote workers. Entrepreneurs here will also find plentiful venture capital funding and an endless supply of fresh talent from schools like Michigan Tech and Michigan State University. The city also hosts monthly "Shark Tank"-style tech pitch gatherings, and the event has become a favorite among locals, drawing big crowds.

When you’re off the clock, you’ll reap all the benefits of living in a vacation destination. Traverse City offers lots of wineries and great food, but of course, the real gem is the coastline. Lake Michigan’s bright blue waters have instant mind-clearing powers, and Traverse City is just thirty minutes away from Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, one of the most beautiful natural sites in the country.

8. Wilmington, North Carolina

If you've ever been to Wilmington, NC, chances are you've thought, "Why don't I live here?" If you're an entrepreneur, we've got good news for you: this gorgeous North Carolina city isn't just a great getaway destination, it's the perfect place to launch a business. Wilmington has recently seen a new wave of startup buzz, along with the launch of a new angel investor organization and entrepreneurship network. Wilmington is also home to Elite Innovations, an engineering consultant firm and development company that employees designers, programmers and creatives.

The bottom line? If you’re craving a slower pace of life as you build your business or build your dream career, Wilmington is the place for you. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire Hannum is a writer and editor based in New York City. Her work has appeared on Self, CNN, The Frisky, Mic, YouBeauty, Racked, and other corners of the internet. more

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Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:18