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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Dan Burrows, Contributing Writer
| February 21, 2018
A million bucks might not go as far as it once did, but it still gains you entry into an elite club. Only 5.8% of the country, or about 7.2 million households, qualify as actual millionaires. That’s defined as having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships.
Most of these wealthy households can be found in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – just as you would expect. But some millionaires prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of major metropolises. Indeed, pockets of millionaires can be found in some pretty far-flung places.
Phoenix Marketing International, a firm that tracks the affluent market, recently ranked 934 urban areas, both large and small, based on the percentage of millionaire households in each. The following list of cities is limited to so-called “micropolitan” areas, which the Census Bureau defines as urban clusters with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.
In some cases, these locations benefit from being recreational areas or havens for wealthy retirees. In others, a particular industry drives local wealth. Either way, these are the 20 smallest cities and towns boasting the highest concentrations of millionaires in the U.S.
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 are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Millionaire Households: 1,763
Total Households: 25,305
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.0%
Median Income for All Households: $62,159
Median Home Value: $219,600
If your ideal summer retreat is a lakeside getaway, you could hardly do better than Laconia, New Hampshire. The area sits between Lake Winnisquam and Lake Winnipesaukee in the middle of New Hampshire’s famed Lakes Region.
And, unlike more rural parts of the vacation wonderland, Laconia is just miles off Interstate 93. That makes for easy access to the White Mountain National Forest about 60 miles to the north. More importantly, it makes Laconia a relatively easy drive from points farther south where millionaires maintain their primary residences.
It also helps that N.H. is a relatively tax-friendly state. As we shall see, another area near Laconia makes this list of small towns with a high percentage of millionaires.
Total Households: 19,630
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.1%
Median Income for All Households: $71,462
Median Home Value: $181,000
Tiny Elko, Nevada, owes its high concentration of millionaires to its status as the capital of Nevada’s gold mining industry. Although gold mining is no longer much of a growth area, pulling the yellow metal from the ground does remain a productive endeavor. Indeed, if Nevada were a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest producer of gold behind China, Australia and Russia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Elko’s fortunes rise and fall with the price of gold, so one would hope that its millionaire population is properly diversified. Happily for all of Elko’s residents, Nevada is one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. thanks to no state income tax and modest property taxes.
Millionaire Households: 1,449
Total Households: 20,508
Median Income for All Households: $58,535
Median Home Value: $272,000
Gardnerville Ranchos, Nevada, is a favorite hiding place for millionaires because of its proximity to Lake Tahoe, which has long been a getaway for the rich and famous. With everything from ski resorts to beaches, the Lake Tahoe area offers year-round activities for well-heeled tourists and full-time residents alike. Carson City, capital of the Silver State, is just 20 miles to the north of Gardnerville Ranchos, and high-rollers can reach Reno’s casinos in an hour.
Millionaire Households: 4,117
Total Households: 58,109
Median Income for All Households: $69,505
Median Home Value: $231,100
The New Hampshire state capital is home to a horde of state, county, local and federal agencies – and the law firms and professional agencies that support them. Concord also is a major distribution, industrial and transportation hub. Tourism is a key contributor to the local economy, thanks to the nearby New Hampshire International Speedway, as is the state’s increasing emergence as a center of high-tech manufacturing.
Concord also benefits from being within easy reach of Laconia and the state’s famed Lakes Region, as noted earlier. Residents seeking a break from quaint New England living can drive to Boston in less than 90 minutes.
Wikimedia Commons contributor Zorin09
Millionaire Households: 480
Total Households: 6,754
Median Income for All Households: $70,423
Median Home Value: $111,600
Like several other small towns on this list, Andrews, Texas, can thank the oil patch for its relatively high concentration of millionaires. Indeed, Andrews is Texas oil country. Situated just 30 miles from better-known Texas oil towns such as Midland and Odessa, Andrews saw its first oil well drilled way back in 1929.
Times, change, of course, and the Andrews area economy has been forced to diversify into other endeavors. Regardless of how they came by their wealth, Texas’s millionaires face a mixed bag when it comes to taxes. There’s no income tax at all. On the other hand, sales taxes run high, as do property taxes.
Millionaire Households: 3,046
Total Households: 42,438
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.2%
Median Income for All Households: $59,022
Median Home Value: $381,100
You’ll find the Truckee-Grass Valley area on the California side of Lake Tahoe, with Truckee proper situated near the shore of the famed lake itself and Grass Valley sitting farther to the west. Multiple bodies of water including Donner Lake, where the Donner Party met its gruesome demise, make the entire area a recreational haven for water sports. And the long, snowy winters are perfect for the numerous ski resorts in the vicinity of Truckee and Grass Valley.
Another appealing aspect of the area for millionaires: It’s a straight shot down Interstate 80 to reach Sacramento, the state capital, and San Francisco. Less appealing: California ranks as the single worst state in the U.S. for taxes.
North Dakota Department of Transportation
Millionaire Households: 1,034
Total Households: 14,349
Median Income for All Households: $72,099
Median Home Value: $206,200
The boom times are rolling once again in North Dakota.
The state once had the fastest-growing economy in the nation, thanks to the explosion in shale oil drilling. Places like Dickinson, located in the oil-rich Bakken Formation, were mining millionaires. Then oil prices collapsed in 2014 and some folks even started pulling up stakes.
No more. Oil prices are near a three-year high, and now North Dakota expects to set a new record for monthly oil production in 2018.
It also helps that North Dakota is one of the nation’s more tax-friendly states. Indeed, it has been cutting income taxes for several years in a row – to the point that they barely exist.
Millionaire Households: 830
Total Households: 11,486
Median Income for All Households: $54,859
Median Home Value: $238,300
It’s not hard to understand the allure of Fredericksburg, since it’s smack-dab in the middle of Texas Hill Country. This beautiful region of the Lone Star State has plenty to offer for both outdoorsy types and aesthetes alike. Residents can explore a landscape of rolling hills, spring-fed rivers and lakes, and vast fields of wildflowers. But they can also partake in fine dining, wine tasting, concerts and art shows. A good example that combines the two, while giving a nod to the area’s rich history, is the LBJ Ranch Tour and Wine Tasting.
Fredericksburg also benefits from its proximity to Austin, the capital of Texas and a hub for high-paying tech companies, about 90 minutes away.
Millionaire Households: 1,846
Total Households: 25,479
Median Income for All Households: $71,344
Median Home Value: $558,000
The Kapaa micropolitan area includes the entirety of Kauai, Hawaii’s fourth-largest island. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is one of the state’s more undeveloped locales. With pristine beaches, lush forests, soaring mountains and relatively few people, Kapaa and the surrounding area is an ideal place for a millionaire’s tropical island nest.
The downside? The Aloha State, one of Kiplinger’s 10 least tax-friendly states, is known for its high cost of living — and high taxes. Be that as it may, property taxes as a percentage of home value are the lowest in the U.S.
Millionaire Households: 1,168
Total Households: 15,990
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.3%
Median Income for All Households: $58,228
Median Home Value: $319,500
Tiny Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, prides itself on its out-of-the-way feel, with country farms mixing with lavish waterfront estates. It has long been a retreat for the well-to-do of the Mid-Atlantic seeking antiques shops and solitude. Easton’s proximity to the beach, abundance of parks and good schools make for an idyllic small-town experience for residents.
At the same time, the town offers easy access to several major cities. It’s less than an hour away from Annapolis, the state capital, while Washington, D.C., and Baltimore can be reached by car in about 90 minutes (traffic willing).
Maryland has the most millionaires per capita of any state in the U.S., according to Phoenix Marketing International. The downside? Maryland is one of Kiplinger’s 10 least tax-friendly states.
Millionaire Households: 1,026
Total Households: 13,947
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.4%
Median Income for All Households: $68,318
Median Home Value: $412,000
Jackson is a town in Wyoming’s famed Jackson Hole valley. The greater area we’re talking about here spills over into Idaho, too, and includes Grand Teton National Park, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park and The Teton Wilderness Area. With three major ski resorts and an abundance of other year-round recreational activities, it’s easy to see the appeal for those with means.
And thanks to abundant revenue that the state collects from oil and mineral rights, Wyoming millionaires shoulder one of the lowest tax burdens in the U.S. For those living in Idaho, the tax situation is a bit more mixed.
Millionaire Households: 2,614
Total Households: 34,910
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.5%
Median Income for All Households: $64,813
Median Home Value: $332,900
The Oak Harbor, Washington, micro area actually encompasses all of Whidbey Island. That help explains its inclusion on the list of small towns with high concentrations of millionaires. “Oak Harbor is usually regarded as the poorer but more developed stepsister when compared to other Whidbey municipalities,” notes the Whidbey New Times. “Coupeville and Langley have higher incomes, swankier homes and older residents.” Oak Harbor itself plays host to nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
As for taxes, the Evergreen State is one of seven states with no broad-based personal income tax.
Millionaire Households: 615
Total Households: 7,911
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.8%
Median Income for All Households: $64,222
Median Home Value: $660,800
No surprise here. Vineyard Haven is a town on Martha’s Vineyard. This island off the coast of Cape Cod is one of the most desirable summer vacations spots in the Northeast and has long been a favorite of the rich, the famous and the powerful. (The Census Bureau classifies the entire island as part of the Vineyard Haven micro area.) Indeed, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have summered there. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis long maintained a home on the island.
Naturally, this tony locale is not easy on the wallet, as evidenced by the exorbitant real estate prices. It also can get a bit crowded. Martha’s Vineyard has 17,000 or so year-round residents, but the population can swell to 200,000 during peak summer months. On the plus side, Massachusetts’ reputation as a high-tax state is overblown.
Millionaire Households: 1,508
Total Households: 18,931
Concentration of Millionaires: 8.0%
Median Income for All Households: $80,060
Median Home Value: $212,200
Gillette, Wyoming, is another small city that has seen fortunes made on the back on natural resources, especially coal. Wyoming accounts for about 40% if the nation’s coal production, and the vast majority of the state’s output comes from the Gillette area.
Although coal has been losing out to cheap natural gas in recent years, Gillette isn’t exactly a one-trick pony. The extraction of oil, gas and uranium are also critical to the local economy.
Millionaire Households: 1,610
Total Households: 20,016
Median Income for All Households: $72,214
Median Home Value: $419,400
You can sum up the appeal of Edwards in one word: skiing. The nearby world-class resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek draw big-spending skiers hoping to see and be seen all winter long. But the area offers much more than pricey lift tickets and celebrity spotting. Fly fishing, hiking and whitewater rafting draw folks to town in the summer months. High-end restaurants, plush lodges and spas are just some of the ways millionaires can pamper themselves.
But it’s Colorado’s status as a tax-friendly state for both retirees and working residents that helps make Edwards a good deal for year-round living. It’s a good thing, too, considering the high price of homes in the area.
Millionaire Households: 6,148
Total Households: 74,258
Concentration of Millionaires: 8.3%
Median Income for All Households: $76,993
Median Home Value: $243,000
Torrington is the largest town in Litchfield County, which has long been a popular retreat for Manhattan’s wealthy and chic looking for a remote, mountainous retreat. (It’s an in-state draw for all the millionaires from the Stamford area, too.) As Vogue magazine says of the area: “There’s something for everyone: art galleries, outdoor activities, shopping, great food. With its covered bridges, forests and rivers, the scenery is gorgeous. In fact, every season challenges the next for which is more beautiful.”
Although Torrington might be hidden in the northwest corner of the state, millionaires can’t escape Connecticut’s onerous tax bite. Real estate taxes are among the highest in the country, and the state has not only a luxury tax, but the country’s only gift tax.
Flickr user Andrew Filer
Millionaire Households: 1,301
Total Households: 15,494
Concentration of Millionaires: 8.4%
Median Income for All Households: $88,013
Median Home Value: $201,400
The city of Williston expanded rapidly in the first half of this decade, according to the Census Bureau, driven by the explosion in shale oil drilling that once gave North Dakota the fastest-growing economy in the nation. Like Dickinson, this city in the oil-rich Bakken Formation soon found itself home to fracking millionaires. Jobs dried up and wages fell during the recent bust years, but the town’s fortunes are looking up.
The millionaires who remained can look forward to better times ahead. Oil prices are near a three-year high, and North Dakota’s production levels are retiring to multi-year highs.
Millionaire Households: 1,192
Total Households: 13,145
Concentration of Millionaires: 9.1%
Median Income for All Households: 85,746
Median Home Value: $323,500
Everything is more expensive in Juneau. Chalk it up to the remote location of Alaska’s capital, which is tucked away in the southeast corner of the state hard against the Canadian border. Groceries alone cost 50% more than the U.S. national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index.
And while it helps to be a millionaire to live in Juneau, it’s increasingly hard to become one. Much of Alaska’s wealth is tied to the energy business. A slump in energy prices in 2014 touched off the state’s worst recession in three decades – a downturn from which it has yet to emerge.
On the plus side, Alaska is one of the most tax-friendly states in the union. Not only is there no state income tax, but the government actually pays residents an annual stipend.
Millionaire Households: 1,462
Total Households: 14,685
Concentration of Millionaires: 10.0%
Median Income for All Households: $91,77
Median Home Value: $497,300
Skiing, luxury shopping, world famous film festivals – the Summit Park, Utah, area has everything a millionaire could ask for and more. A short drive from Salt Lake City, the Summit Park micro area, which also includes Park City, counts one in 10 of its households as millionaires.
The aforementioned Park City, which hosts Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, also boasts several world-class ski resorts. As for taxes, millionaires could do worse. The Beehive State moved to a 5% flat income tax system in 2008. Property taxes are low and sales taxes are average.
Millionaire Households: 898
Total Households: 7,719
Concentration of Millionaires: 11.6%
Median Income for All Households: $101,934
Median Home Value: $274,200
Los Alamos, New Mexico, sounds like an unlikely place to find a lot of millionaires, but we’re talking about the concentration of millionaire households, not the total number of millionaires. And on that relative basis, Los Alamos really stands out.
The tiny town about 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe is home to a government nuclear weapons laboratory and a number of chemists, engineers and physicists. It’s a small area with a small population but a large percentage of highly educated and highly trained engineers and scientists.
New Mexico’s 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 low, too.
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