Poleward migrations of tropical cyclones have been observed globally, but their impact on coastal areas remains unclear. We investigated the change in global tropical cyclone activity in coastal regions over the period 1982–2018. We found that the distance of tropical cyclone maximum intensity to land has decreased by about 30 kilometers per decade, and that the annual frequency of global tropical cyclones increases with proximity to land by about two additional cyclones per decade. Trend analysis reveals a robust migration of tropical cyclone activity toward coasts, concurrent with poleward migration of cyclone locations as well as a statistically significant westward shift. This zonal shift of tropical cyclone tracks may be mainly driven by global zonal changes in environmental steering flow.