Despite precarious beginnings, Chatham has developed over the years into a highly desirable place to live in or visit. Today its small-town qualities are well suited for families and retired residents. A spectacular coastline and out-of-the-way location have kept generations of summer residents coming back each year. With its old Cape Cod quaintness relieved by the vast pristine beaches and surrounding ocean, Chatham has great appeal. Visitors in July and August now number 20,000 to 25,000 annually.
The Town's development as a high-quality mecca for retirees, summer residents, and tourists depended on two factors which in the early days of European settlement had been liabilities: its isolation and its exposure to the ocean. Today, Chatham prospers because of these factors and struggles to maintain its character in the face of its economic success.