Imagine where the nation's millionaires reside, and you may first think of fast-paced New York City, glamorous Los Angeles, or innovative San Francisco. But while these areas boast some of the largest numbers of wealthy residents, you actually have a greater chance of meeting a millionaire in less obvious locales -- say, Los Alamos, N.M. or Sarasota, Fla.
It comes down to simple arithmetic. The Big Apple, for example, has by far the most millionaire households -- 700,195. But with more than 6.8 million households in the New York metropolitan area, only one in ten boast a net worth of $1 million or more. On the other hand, in Los Alamos, N.M., you double your chance of meeting a millionaire. The town may have fewer than 8,000 households, but one in five are worth at least a million bucks. The reason: The main industry in town is the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, a magnet for well-paid government scientists.
To find the places with the highest concentrations of millionaire households, Kiplinger.com turned to market research firm TNS Financial Services, which tracks affluent households in hundreds of cities nationwide. Our city-by-city slideshow reveals the results.
We weren't interested in places where residents may be house-rich and cash-poor, so we looked only at households with a net worth of $1 million dollars or more, excluding the value of their primary residence. And we looked for the percentage of a city's total households that contain millionaires, rather than the sheer number, because the places with the most millionaires obviously housed the highest general population too, diluting the millionaire mix. We wanted to know where in the U.S. you have the greatest chance of passing a millionaire on the street -- or even of having one live next door. As a whole, about 8% of the nation's households are millionaires. The cities featured in our slide show easily top that statistic.
We also learned what draws millionaires to these areas. The top cities tend to fall in one of three categories:
They are popular with wealthy retirees.
They are home to innovators and gifted talent pools.
They have a high concentration of corporations and highly paid executives.
The wealthy also seem to gather near the country's coasts. Nine of the top ten cities on our list are on the Atlantic, Pacific, or Gulf coasts. And Florida seems to be one of the most popular states among millionaires -- three of the places with the highest concentration of über-wealthy are in the Sunshine State.
We include a wealth snapshot for each of the cities in our slideshow. We provide median family income from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These numbers illustrate that you don't have to make a lot of money to have a high net worth. In fact, families in half of the places on our list make less than $65,000 a year. Only one of the areas had a six-figure median family income. (For inspiration on how you could become a millionaire, see the May issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance.)
Although TNS's numbers exclude the value of the primary residence, we show you the median home price in the area to give an idea of how much it costs to buy in one of these millionaire towns. The numbers came from the National Association of Realtors and from data compiled by Sperling's Best Places, which also provided us with cost-of-living data. The national average for the cost of living index is 100. A number greater than 100 means the city is more expensive to live in than the rest of the nation on average. The index takes into account a variety of factors, including the cost of food, housing, utilities and healthcare.
So take a look. Maybe you're closer to a millionaire household than you think.