They say a million dollars isn't what it used to be, but it still earns you entry into an elite group of Americans. Only 6.7% of the nation's households, or about 8.4 million, qualify as bona fide millionaires.
Before anyone gets hot and bothered, we're talking about liquidity here. The millionaires in question have investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships. A million dollars' worth of cash, stocks, bonds, what have you, is a far more restrictive definition.
New York and Los Angeles are home to the most millionaires in America because of their large populations and lucrative industries. No surprise there. However, it might surprise you that neither of these metropolises can claim the highest concentration of millionaires.
Phoenix Marketing International, a firm that tracks the affluent market, ranks 935 urban areas, large and small, based on the percentage of millionaire households in each. The following list of cities is limited to metropolitan areas with at least one urbanized area with a population of 50,000 or more. We examined small cities with big millionaire populations in a separate story.
Now, here are the 15 largest metropolitan areas boasting the highest concentration of millionaires in the U.S.
Metropolitan areas are listed by percentage of millionaire households, from lowest to highest. Estimates of millionaire households provided by Phoenix Marketing International. Investable assets include education/custodial accounts, individually owned retirement accounts, stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, hedge funds, structured products, ETFs, cash accounts, annuities and cash value life insurance policies. Data on household incomes and home values come from the U.S. Census Bureau. Living costs are based on the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index. Tax information is as of 2019.
15. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania
- Millionaire households: 672,863
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.0%
- Median income for all households: $83,160 (U.S.: $65,712)
- Median home value: $482,900 (U.S.: $240,500)
If you've ever been to Manhattan, you don't need us to tell you that it's an expensive place to visit. Just know that it's even more expensive to live there. With space at a premium and location paramount, the median home value in Manhattan is among the highest on our list of millionaire cities.
The greater New York area isn't cheap, either, which takes some of the luster off all those millions of dollars. Taxes can be brutal, too. The Empire State's average sales tax rate is the 10th-highest in the country. New York also has a hefty income tax. Plus, New York City and Yonkers impose their own income taxes, and there's a commuter tax for self-employed people working in and around New York City.
As one would probably expect, financial managers are among the highest-paid professionals in the state, according to data from Zippia.
14. Anchorage, Alaska
- Millionaire households: 13,334
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.0%
- Median income for all households: $80,676
- Median home value: $300,100
You don't have to be a millionaire to live in Anchorage, but it certainly helps. The city's remote location and limited local resources mean you'll pay a premium for most goods and services.
Add it all up, and Anchorage turns out to be one of the pricier U.S. cities in which to live, with living expenses running 24% higher than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's (C2ER) Cost of Living Index.
Also, be forewarned that if you want to mingle with Anchorage's millionaires, they might not be in such a good mood. Persistently low oil prices have trapped Alaska in a seemingly never-ending recession, its worst in 30 years.
13. Barnstable, Massachusetts
- Millionaire households: 8,751
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.1%
- Median income for all households: $85,042
- Median home value: $409,700
The metro area of what's known as the Town of Barnstable comprises the largest community on Cape Cod, by both population and geography.
Barnstable encompasses a number of villages, including Centerville, Osterville and Marstons Mills, but none are more famous than Hyannis Port, home to the Kennedy Compound. The American political dynasty's residences there are designated national historic landmarks.
In addition to being one of the more desirable summer vacation destinations in the eastern U.S, Barnstable serves as a gateway to Martha's Vineyard – another millionaire hotspot – by way of the ferry in Hyannis.
12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
- Millionaire households: 146,656
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.4%
- Median income for all households: $94,027
- Median home value: $503,000
Seattle has long been one of the nation's fastest-growing cities, thanks in part to its high concentration of well-paid jobs for college grads and higher. Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon.com (AMZN) are both based in the area, as are many smaller high-tech companies. The world's richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, tops the list of Seattle's uber rich at $185.2 billion, according to Forbes. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has a net worth of "only" $116.3 billion.
All of those good high-tech jobs have allowed a sizable percentage of Seattle area residents to sock away at least $1 million, but it does come at a cost. Indeed, the overall cost of living is 57% greater than the national average, according to the Cost of Living Index.
Real estate is a pillar of these runaway expenses. Home values rose 10% over the past year and are forecast to rise another 7.1% in the next 12 months, according to real-estate tracker Zillow.
11. Naples, Florida
- Millionaire households: 15,322
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.6%
- Median income for all households: $94,394
- Median home value: $941,700
Snowbirds and well-off retirees are making the Naples metro area one of the faster-growing regions in the U.S. That growth has been fueled by a torrent of retirees attracted by miles of Gulf Coast beaches, gracious homes and giant banyan trees.
Boating, fishing and golf are just a few of the area's attractions. Naples also happens to benefit from a comparatively well-educated population. About 56% of area residents have a bachelor's degree or higher compared with Florida's overall rate of 29%.
And for years, the area has consistently ranked among Gallup's best cities for wellbeing.
When it comes to taxes, Florida stands out for millionaires and non-millionaires alike. The Sunshine State has no income tax, and its property taxes are right around the national average. Indeed, Florida is one of Kiplinger's 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S.
10. Honolulu, Hawaii
- Millionaire households: 31,538
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.8%
- Median income for all households: $87,470
- Median home value: $739,700
If you're looking to rub elbows with millionaires in an idyllic setting, the Honolulu metro area is the place to be.
But paradise doesn't come cheap.
Blame Hawaii's remoteness. Pretty much everything in Honolulu is more expensive than it would be on the mainland because it all must make the long journey by boat or by plane.
Overall living expenses in Honolulu run almost 98% above the national average. Housing costs, which include rents and mortgages, are 334% greater than what the average American pays. Groceries, utilities and transportation expenses are pricey too.
But thanks to a range of attractive qualities, from abundant outdoor activities to numerous entertainment choices to even high air quality, Honolulu also typically ranks among the best places to live in the U.S.
9. Boulder, Colorado
- Millionaire households: 13,182
- Concentration of millionaires: 9.8%
- Median income for all households: $88,535
- Median home value: $592,000
Boulder's highly educated workforce – almost 65% of Boulder's citizens have a bachelor's degree or higher – and an abundance of highly paid, high-tech jobs give the metro area a heavy concentration of millionaire households.
Although the University of Colorado helps give Boulder a youthful, college-town feel, it still has major corporate employers such as aerospace giants Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Northrup Grumman (NOC). Boulder also is a hub for biosciences. Nearly 100 such firms call the area home, including AstraZeneca (AZN) and Medtronic (MDT). In tech, Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google division boasts a $131 million campus in Boulder. International Business Machines (IBM) and Oracle (ORCL) are just a couple other noteworthy local employers.
Colorado happens to be one of the more tax-friendly states in the Union. Personal income tax rates top out at 4.9% on taxable income over $16,000 for single filers and over $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Property taxes are modest, but sales taxes lean high in the Centennial State.
8. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
- Millionaire households: 27,888
- Concentration of millionaires: 10.0%
- Median income for all households: $92,236
- Median home value: $629,600
Also known as Ventura County, the Oxnard metro area includes the pricey locales of Thousand Oaks (median income: $113,562), Moorpark ($104,839) and Oak Park ($128,622).
Its proximity to Los Angeles helps explain the large concentration of wealth. So does the number of celebrities who call it home – a list that over the years has included Clark Gable, William Shatner and Cher. It also appeals to millionaires looking for alternatives to Santa Barbara and Malibu, which bracket the Oxnard area to the north and south. Considering the area's Mediterranean climate and miles of relatively uncrowded beaches, it's easy to see the appeal.
The Golden State's reputation as a high-tax destination is built in part on how aggressively it goes after big earners, with a 13.3% tax rate that kicks in at $1 million (for single filers) of taxable income. But for more modest earners, California is a relatively tax-friendly state.
7. Trenton-Princeton, New Jersey
- Millionaire households: 13,831
- Concentration of millionaires: 10.1%
- Median income for all households: $79,492
- Median home value: $291,600
As the New Jersey state capital, Trenton is home to a multitude of state, county, local and federal agencies – and the law firms and professional agencies that support them.
The metro area's millionaire population is further boosted by the presence of tony Princeton, N.J. The famed university town boasts a median household income of $138,194 and a median home value of $833,000. Major companies such as Munich Reinsurance America and Covance call the area home.
On the downside, although New Jersey gives residents a break on income taxes, it brings the hammer down when they buy a home. The Garden State's property taxes are the highest in the U.S.
6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire
- Millionaire households: 197,031
- Concentration of millionaires: 10.3%
- Median income for all households: $94,430
- Median home value: $482,700
With its unparalleled collection of universities, hospitals, historical sites, and tech and biotech employers, it's easy to see why the Greater Boston area is such an appealing place to live. And while there's no question the metro area's popularity comes at a high cost, it's not nearly as high as some East Coast cities that are often mentioned in the same breath as Boston.
The overall cost of living is almost 50% above the national average. Housing costs lead the way, at more than three times what the average American pays. Median income for all households in the Boston metro area, which even includes sections of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, is 44% higher than the U.S. median.
The Bay State gets dubbed "Taxachusetts" sometimes, but taxes in Massachusetts are actually quite average, with a flat 5.1% income tax and a flat 6.25% sales tax (municipalities can't add to it). Property taxes, however, do lean a bit high.
5. Napa, California
- Millionaire households: 5,242
- Concentration of millionaires: 10.5%
- Median income for all households: $92,769
- Median home value: $670,000
Although wildfires have grabbed the Napa headlines these days, the wines produced by the region's famed vineyards make the area a popular destination for casual drinkers and serious oenophiles alike.
Roughly 475 wineries and 700 grape growers dot the Napa Valley area. Cult wines from renowned makers such as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate can command prices ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars per bottle. Taken all together, the local wine economy is a $9.4-billion-a-year business and accounts for 44,000 jobs, according to Napa Valley Vintners, an industry trade group.
Fine wine and tourism clearly can be lucrative trades, too, judging by Napa's double-digit-percent concentration of millionaires.
4. Washington, D.C. Area
- Millionaire households: 1,081,942
- Concentration of millionaires: 11.7%
- Median income for all households: $105,659
- Median home value: $446,300
The District of Columbia and its close-in suburbs such as Arlington, Va., are magnets for the highly educated seeking high-powered jobs. Luckily, many of those ambitious folks are highly paid. Fat paychecks come in handy considering rents are more than double the national average, and the average home price tops $1 million. It's no wonder that the nation's capital is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.
But if you can find an affordable place to live in the area, other living expenses are more manageable. D.C. costs for health care are cheaper than the national average, for instance. A wide-ranging bus-and-rail system makes getting to and around the District surprisingly reasonable. And don't forget about all the free museums and monuments.
3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
- Millionaire households: 220,056
- Concentration of millionaires: 12.2%
- Median income for all households: $114,696
- Median home value: $940,900
Years of relentless growth driven by high-paid tech workers have given the San Francisco metro area some of the highest living costs in the country, meaning even those with fat paychecks can struggle to make ends meet. Home prices are famously high – an obstacle for aspiring homeowners – and renters fare little better. Overall, San Francisco's cost of living is 95% higher than the national average.
Still, those plump incomes help a healthy chunk of San Franciscans sock away serious savings. Out of the more than 1.7 million total households in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area, more than 800,000 have more than $100,000 in investable assets.
2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
- Millionaire households: 43,111
- Concentration of millionaires: 12.4%
- Median income for all households: $97,053
- Median home value: $444,500
With its close proximity to New York City, Stamford has long welcomed wealthy commuters who make their livings in the Big Apple. Residents can also earn a good salary closer to home.
The metro area, which includes Norwalk and Bridgeport, is the base for many hedge funds as well as prominent public companies such as Priceline parent Booking Holdings (BKNG) and Xerox (XRX). And on top of the Stamford area being home to the second-highest concentration of millionaires in the nation, the state of Connecticut has the third-highest concentration of millionaire households after Maryland and New Jersey.
You'll find the toniest of the tony population in Greenwich, a small town where the median home value is more than $1 million.
Forget millionaires. If you're looking for billionaires, this is the place to go.
1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
- Millionaire households: 93,431
- Concentration of millionaires: 13.6%
- Median income for all households: $130,865
- Median home value: $1,116,400
As hard as it is to fathom, a million dollars might not be enough to get by in Silicon Valley. The cities that make up this metro area – including San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara – are famous for being home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world. They also are famous for being home to exorbitant living expenses. Google, Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Intel (INTC) and Tesla (TSLA) are based nearby.
This metro area has the highest median home value by far of any urban locale on this list, and it shows no signs of cooling off. Home prices are up by 11.5% year-over-year, according to data from Zillow, and are forecast to rise another 7.5% in the year ahead.
Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.
A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.
Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.
In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.
Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.
Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.
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