Ocean Springs, Mississippi was fortunate compared to many other communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, because its relative height protected it from much of the flooding that surrounding areas dealt with.

Ocean Springs’ vibrant downtown especially fared well, and is now bustling, attracting shoppers and diners from around the area—sales revenues in Ocean Springs actually increased substantially in the year following Katrina. An “art community,” the downtown area features several art galleries, along with diverse, ethnic dining opportunities.

Located about two miles east of Biloxi, Ocean Springs was founded in 1699 by Pierre LeMoyne D'Iberville as the first permanent French settlement in the area. The French established Fort Maurepas here, and the settlement served as the first capital of French Louisiana. The city became known as “Ocean Springs” in 1854—the name was coined by a New Orleans physician who believed the local springs had medicinal qualities.

The paddle wheel steamboats running between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama in the early 1800s and the development of the railroad after the Civil War helped the area thrive throughout the 19th century. Development of ice plant industries along the coast in the late 19th century boosted the area’s seafood industry, which is still thriving today.

Ocean Springs’ pre-Katrina population was about 17,000, and most of its residents have been able to return. Properties available range from homes with storm damage repaired, to “fixer-uppers,” to foundational slabs for construction, to new condominiums. Property values have increased 20-30 percent with the decreased inventory.