Silver Lake, Rehoboth Beach
Property tax rates, expressed as the total per $100 assessed value, come from the Delaware Economic Development Office Property Tax Report. Median home cost is from Sperling’s Best Places. Crime rates are from Sperling’s Best Places. (The numbers represent violent crime and property crime, respectively, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing a lower violent crime rate and 10 a higher rate.) Commute times are from Sperling’s Best Places. Ratings for arts and culture, shopping and dining, and nightlife are as follows: 5 outstanding, 4 excellent, 3 good, 2 fair, 1 poor.
Indian River | Taxes: 3.5191 | Median home cost: $431,700 | Commute: 27 | Safety: 5-10 | Arts and culture: 3 | Shopping and dining: 4 | Nightlife: 2
One of the so-called Quiet Resorts, the former Methodist camp town retains its family atmosphere. Less of a year-round town than its larger cousin, Rehoboth Beach, it still offers many of the same attractions: great restaurants like Patsy’s, 14 Global and The Parkway; a main drag, Garfield Parkway, lined with fun shops; and a beach and boardwalk—all in an easily walkable town. Annual celebrations like July 4 and the end-of-summer Jazz Funeral keep the civic spirit high.
Indian River | Taxes: 6.4891 | Median home cost: $160,200 | Commute: 23 | Safety: 10-6 | Arts and culture: 2 |Shopping and dining: 2 | Nightlife: 1
The seat of Sussex County government, Georgetown continues to grow more culturally diverse. The famous Circle, the historic center of town, is the unofficial lawyers’ row and the site of the biannual Return Day celebration. The town proper has beautiful examples of 17th- and 18th-century architecture. The beaches are a straight shot down U.S. 9. Sussex Tech is one of the state’s best high schools. Possum Point Players is an institution.
Cape Henlopen | Taxes: 4.2731 | Median home cost: $261,500 | Commute: 25 | Safety: 2-3 | Arts and culture: 4 | Shopping and dining: 5 | Nightlife: 2
Lewes is an interesting combination of historic bay town (one that maintains some industry on the water), summer resort destination and year-round hub of coastal Sussex—home of the stellar Cape Henlopen School District. It offers easy access to bay beaches in town and ocean beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park. Second Street offers outstanding shopping and dining. And the town offers myriad historic homes, as well as places on Lewes Beach that range from more modern to more funky. Residents—longtimers and newcomers—are equally proud of their town. An active historic society and resident artists help define the vibe.
Indian River | Taxes: 3.9091 | Median home cost: $162,800 | Commute: 24 | Safety: 8-7 | Arts and culture: 1 | Shopping and dining: 2 | Nightlife: 1
Don’t pin Millsboro down to its corporate limits. It also claims Long Neck (and the Baywood Greens golf community) and Oak Orchard, which means lots of good living and aquatic recreation along Indian River. All that aside, it still promotes itself as the fastest-growing community in the county, one popular among young families and active adults.
Federal Street, Milton
Breezy Point, Rehoboth Beach
Indian River | Taxes: 3.8491 Median home cost: $212,300 | Commute: 32 | Safety: 2-2 | Arts and culture: 2 | Shopping and dining: 3 | Nightlife: 1
Contiguous with Ocean View, Millville is part of the growing Del. 26 corridor from U.S. 113 to Bethany Beach, which has brought new interest from passers-through.To wit: a burst of new building in Sand Dollar Village. Millville by the Sea, set to open come summer, advertises “beach” homes starting in the low $200,000s.
Cape Henlopen | Taxes: 3.9191 | Median home cost: $208,200 | Commute: 28 | Safety: 8-7 | Arts and culture: 2 |Shopping and dining: 2 | Nightlife: 2
Quaint streets lined with Victorian, Gothic Revival and Federalist-style homes, the Broadkill River and Wagamons Pond, and the small-town feeling are what draw new residents to Milton. Many go elsewhere first, looking for a new beach home, then discover Milton instead. The farmers’ market draws locals and visitors alike on summer Fridays. The Dogfish Head Craft Brewery ups its hipness quotient. Cape Henlopen schools are tops.
Cape Henlopen | Taxes: 5.4831 | Median home cost: $324,300 | Commute: 23 | Safety: 8-10 | Arts and culture: 4 | Shopping and dining: 5 | Nightlife: 3
Let’s start with arts and culture: The Rehoboth Beach Museum, the Rehoboth Art League, the Bandstand and several small galleries provide plenty of it. Shopping? Where do we start? Dining? Rehoboth is well known as a major destination for foodies, with more great restaurants, at all price points, than we could list. There is more packed into this one square mile of beachfront real estate than in most towns of a similar size. There’s plenty to do year-round, members of many communities mingle harmoniously, and it sits solidly in the state’s best school district.
Seaford | Taxes: 4.3461 | Median home cost: $148,100 | Commute: 22 | Safety: 9-7 | Arts and culture: 2 | Shopping and dining: 2 | Nightlife: 1
The unofficial capital of western Sussex, Seaford was recently voted the 28th Best Small Town in America. The historic Governor Ross Mansion is a major attraction, and Seaford is home to many other nationally registered historic places. A charming main street boasts the outstanding Bon Appetit restaurant—a gem—and the AFRAM Festival and Nanticoke Riverfest are major annual celebrations. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and 500 businesses keep the town working.