Where the richest people live
Every city in the U.S. has blocks where the greatest concentration of wealthy people resides. Here is a look at some of the poshest.
Kenilworth, Ill., left, and Naples, Fla., include the most expensive blocks in their respective states. // © Ralf-Finn Hestoft/CORBIS, Ilene MacDonald/Alamy
Beverly Hills, Calif., famously has some of the country's most valuable real estate. On the western end of the city, between the Los Angeles Country Club and North Beverly Drive, the median home value is about $3 million, according to real-estate website NeighborhoodScout.com, and many properties cost far more. This posh neighborhood in the 90210 ZIP code is lined with pristine single-family homes, most with at least four bedrooms. (Bing Cube: View photos of Beverly Hills)
Streets need not be lined with big estates to have high home values. On the opposite coast, in Manhattan, an area bordering the east side of Central Park from 70th Street to 77th Street, between Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue, contains homes with a median value of $2.8 million. In comparison, the median home value citywide is about $779,000, according to NeighborhoodScout's estimates. Unlike Beverly Hills, the area is mostly stacked with luxury apartments, according to data from the Census Bureau's 2005 to 2009 American Community Survey.
Size and style can determine much of a home's value, but other factors can weigh more heavily. In one city, the prices of similar homes can differ widely depending on the area — and even the street — in which they are located. The two key drivers of value are access to work opportunities and access to amenities, says Andrew Schiller, founder and chief executive of NeighborhoodScout.com. A few streets' distance can make a difference in perceived proximity to school districts, recreational amenities and transportation routes.
Access to jobs
Areas with the most expensive real estate in any city are often close to high-paying jobs. Within them, the most expensive streets typically have larger homes that are closer to local amenities. Affluent homebuyers may seek big homes with views in good school districts. For primary residences, however, "access to opportunity is so significant that even if homes are smaller, the values (in an area) can still go up," Schiller says. "People will put up a lot to make a lot of money and support their families."
To determine the most expensive neighborhood in each state, NeighborhoodScout estimated the median home values in the third quarter of 2010 for about 62,000 census tracts, or county subdivisions, across the U.S. The ranking includes only places with more than 800 residents and with at least one-fourth of properties occupied by owners, rather than renters. This excludes certain subdivisions and small towns with high property values.
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In addition to parts of Beverly Hills and Manhattan's Upper East Side, other expensive places include:
- Port Royal in Naples, Fla., which has waterfront homes along the ocean, canals and bay;
- Alpine, N.J., a suburb of Manhattan that attracts many celebrities and business executives; and
- The Golden Triangle section of Greenwich, Conn., where incomes are among the nation's highest.
Values range from $266,293 in Fargo, N.D., to more than $3 million in Beverly Hills. In nearly every state, the most expensive areas are near water, hills or mountains, parks or country clubs.
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Looks matter in second-home markets
Although Beverly Hills and Manhattan provide access to urban centers with high-paying jobs and amenities, just one of these factors props up home values in other exclusive neighborhoods.
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Buyers in second-home markets such as Port Royal; Block Island, R.I.; or Big Sky, Mont., for example, pay a premium for amenities such as views, a waterfront and outdoor recreation. Some of the most expensive properties in Block Island are on the waterfront.
"People are not moving there to get great jobs," Schiller says.
High-end markets tend to hold their values better than average ones, but even the most exclusive areas are vulnerable to economic distress. Arizona's affluent community of Paradise Valley, for instance, has not been hit as hard as the rest of the state because many residents withstood the stress of the recession, says Bob Hassett, a broker at Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty. Still, values in the area have declined by more than 25% in the past two years, NeighborhoodScout says.
Amenities can lose value
Schiller says that places relying on amenities to sustain home values can be more vulnerable to price drops during an economic downturn than those that are near job centers. For instance, NeighborhoodScout estimates that home values in Port Royal have dropped about 21% in the past two years, compared with a relatively minor dip of 5.52% in Chevy Chase Village, Md., a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C., one of the most stable metro job markets.
Exclusive communities migrate over the years as opportunities shift to new places. Beverly Hills did not develop until movie stars began moving there in the early 1900s, according to the city's website. Although the most expensive place in Texas is the Afton Oaks-River Oaks section of Houston, whose median home value is about $1.7 million, Schiller predicts that prices in Austin, Texas, will rise as government activity, job growth and the University of Texas attract more homebuyers to the area.
Neighborhoods near Austin and other emerging cities may not be expensive now, but the right combination of amenities and job opportunities might one day push them to the top of the price ladder.
Virgil below nailed it perfectly...there is an address that we can have for the asking. One that provides to mend our broken wings, the pains from what ails us.....A place that can be called home for greater than our life on earth and that's HEAVEN. By recognizing what someone has done to atone for our sins....just by asking Him into your heart. That is the best eternal address one can ever have....And there is nothing wrong living in BH or NY or a life of luxury. Just don't forget that it was a blessing for you to be innovative in achieving the wealth. Throw God a bone because He can also take it away too. Nothing worse than a wealthy person becoming poor. And it happens daily even to the Christian...
Although my life was not written to be necessarily one of these folks that have worked hard, worked smart, regardless of whatever they did to achieve these fruits they do share a common thread and that's passion for whatever it was that afforded their ability to live as such. Granted some were blessed by transfer of wealth but most I'd say created their wealth in various ways and opportunities. I saw someone had written that it's a bad idea to make articles like this in such tough times. I disagree. Again, I am more close to being a have not than a have, but I have been surrounded by the haves, and you know, I find interesting is they really don't have the happiness we may think Many of the have nots,including my own thinking now and then can't help to wonder if only I had this or that, all worries are relieved. Well not so. Maybe the electric bill problem is solved but what comes with material possessions comes a new set a problems...Like managing your list of items including financial decisions....I have never seen a homeless man cry because the stock market crashed...but being a stockbroker myself, I have seen many of wealthy people want to cry...and rightfully so perhaps.....Myself I'd rather know God and have what I do which is a lot more than many, but is far less than many too than not know God and have enough money to do whatever I choose to do....If life was so dandy being wealthy and having all that luxury money can buy, then there would be no one divorcing, killing themselves, drug addicted, depressed and on and on... that had a lot of money.
One of the best things about being at a bottom is that often you can only go one way and that's up.
Stories like this are ok, but not when some many people are out of work, losing their jobs, homes and wondering were their next meal is going to come from. What are you trying to do start a revolution?
Schiller predicts that prices in Austin, Texas, will rise as government activity, job growth and the University of Texas attract more homebuyers to the area.This would have been accurate in 2003. I think people write about the idea of Austin instead of the reality. They obviously haven't visited Austin recetnly. As far as government jobs and UT jobs in Austin proper, they have been there forever - why suddenly would there be more job growth in these steady sectors? You can buy houses at half of what they were going for seven years ago as those expected jobs and new industry went north, a solid hour+ commute away. The homebuyers came - to Williamson county.
didn't read the article,or other posts, but saw I could post a comment. there's a house being built on stanford between brookhurst and gilbert, in garden grove, Ca. thats GINORMOUS, for the area, and really seems out of place. don't know the value of it, but damn, it's GOT to be in the millions. no other properties in the community can compare to this one, except maybe in the size of the lot.
Nothing like Old Money.
Not plastic, federal reserve notes, or corporate gifts.
I would take Beacon Hill over Beverly Hills anytime.
Want to visit a posh of the past? Travel to Ottumwa, Iowa and Court St. (Court Hill) and streets one or two blocks right and left.
Most the children of these people have moved on years ago.