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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Dan Burrows, Contributing Writer
| July 12, 2019
A million bucks in liquid assets puts a household into pretty elite company these days.
Once you strip out the value of real estate like the family home, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships, only 6.2% of American households qualify as actual millionaires. To clarify, that means they have at least $1 million in investable assets. Examples of investable assets include cash, stocks, bonds and funds, among a bunch of other types of investments and financial products.
In raw numbers, 7,698,765 out of America’s 123,942,960 total households have at least a million dollars in investable assets, according to Phoenix Marketing International (PMI), a firm that tracks the affluent market.
Most of these millionaire households are found in and around 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 far-flung places.
PMI annually ranks 933 urban areas, large and small, based on the percentage of millionaire households in each location. The following list of cities is limited to Census Bureau-defined metropolitan areas with populations of at least 50,000.
By PMI’s reckoning, the following 13 metro areas boast the highest concentrations of millionaire households 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 2018.
Millionaire Households: 5,796
Total Households: 65,189
Concentration of Millionaires: 8.9%
Median Income for All Households: $75,266 (U.S.: $60,336)
Median Home Value: $197,000 (U.S.: $217,600)
Midland is synonymous with the Texas oil and gas industry. And thanks to the explosion of shale-oil drilling in Texas’s Permian Basin, Midland’s concentration of millionaire households is booming. Almost 9% of the Midland metro areas’s households have at least a million dollars in investable assets. More than 1,000 households have at least $5 million investable assets.
Rising oil prices are good news for Midlands’ millionaires – prices for a barrel of West Texas Crude are up about 33% so far in 2019 – but the metro area’s secret weapon is its low cost of living. Residents of Metro Midland enjoy an overall cost of living that’s 4% below the national average. Housing, including rents and mortgages, runs 18% less than what the average American pays. Groceries and health care also cost less than the U.S. average.
Regardless of how they came by their wealth, however, Texas’s millionaires face a mixed bag when it comes to taxes: There’s no income tax at all, but sales taxes run high, as do property taxes.
Millionaire Households: 12,223
Total Households: 134,596
Concentration of Millionaires: 9.1%
Median Income for All Households: $80,834
Median Home Value: $504,800
Boulder’s highly educated workforce – almost 39% of Boulder’s citizens have a graduate or professional degree – 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 and Northrup Grumman. Boulder also is a hub for biosciences. Nearly 100 such firms call the area home, including AstraZeneca and Medtronic. In tech, Google boasts a $131 million campus in Boulder. International Business Machines and Oracle are just a couple other noteworthy local employers.
Colorado happens to be one of the more tax-friendly states in the Union. The Centennial State has a flat tax: If you have federal taxable income, the rate is 4.63%. Property taxes are quite low, but sales taxes take a bite.
Millionaire Households: 29,770
Total Households: 325,569
Median Income for All Households: $81,284
Median Home Value: $680,200
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 90% above the national average. Housing costs, which include rents and mortgages, are 310% greater than what the average American pays. Groceries, utilities and transportation expenses are pricey too. A dozen eggs, for example, cost an average of $4 in the urban Honolulu area, vs. the national average of $1.80.
The Aloha State also happens to be one of the least tax-friendly states in the U.S.
Millionaire Households: 3,789
Total Households: 40,979
Concentration of Millionaires: 9.2%
Median Income for All Households: $81,495
Median Home Value: $294,000
The economy of St. Mary’s County, and Lexington Park in particular, hinges on military spending. The Naval Air Station Patuxent River is situated there, and the Pentagon is less than two hours away by car – even less by helicopter – making the area ideal for defense and aerospace research.
A host of military contractors including DynCorp, KBRwyle, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing account for thousands of high-paying science, technology and engineering jobs. With such a highly educated, highly skilled workforce, it should come as no surprise that there are so many millionaire households in and around Lexington Park.
However, relatively high income taxes make Maryland one of the least tax-friendly states in the U.S.
Millionaire Households: 12,453
Total Households: 134,412
Concentration of Millionaires: 9.3%
Median Income for All Households: $79,173
Median Home Value: $293,800
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 $125,506 and a median home value of $809,200. Major companies such as Munich Reinsurance America and Covance call the area home. On the downside, New Jersey’s property taxes are the highest in the U.S.
Millionaire Households: 14,501
Total Households: 155,811
Median Income for All Households: $66,048
Median Home Value: $358,900
Snowbirds and well-off retirees are making the Naples metro area one of the faster growing regions in the U.S. Naples in particular gets a top grade from the American Lung Association for air quality, and 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. Metro Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island also happens to benefit from a comparatively well-educated population. About 37% of area residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher – that’s 25% greater than the Florida’s overall rate and about 20% higher than the U.S. rate.
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 below the midpoint for the U.S. Indeed, Florida is one of Kiplinger’s 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S.
Millionaire Households: 180,453
Total Households: 1,887,463
Concentration of Millionaires: 9.6%
Median Income for All Households: $85,691
Median Home Value: $441,400
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 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 40% higher than the U.S. median.
The Bay State gets dubbed “Taxachusetts” sometimes, but taxes in Massachusetts are actually quite average.
Millionaire Households: 27,912
Total Households: 277,356
Concentration of Millionaires: 10.1%
Median Income for All Households: $82,857
Median Home Value: $592,500
Also known as Ventura County, the Oxnard metro area includes the pricey locales of Thousand Oaks (median income: $100,338), Moorpark ($102,145) and Oak Park ($129,721).
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.
Millionaire Households: 5,145
Total Households: 50,649
Concentration of Millionaires: 10.2%
Median Income for All Households: $86,562
Median Home Value: $628,500
The wines produced by Napa’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.
Millionaire Households: 254,381
Total Households: 2,315,061
Concentration of Millionaires: 11.0%
Median Income for All Households: $99,669
Median Home Value: $424,600
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 and mortgages are more than double the national average, making the nation’s capital 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, utilities and transportation are in-line or cheap than national averages. For example, 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.
Although taxes in D.C. and Maryland aren’t particularly friendly, Virginia’s tax picture is more mixed.
Millionaire Households: 198,378
Total Households: 1,784,866
Concentration of Millionaires: 11.1%
Median Income for All Households: $101,714
Median Home Value: $849,500
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 96% higher than the national average.
Still, those plump incomes help a healthy chunk of San Franciscans sock away serious savings. Out of the nearly 1.8 million total households in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area, almost 36,000 have more than $5 million in investable assets.
Millionaire Households: 39,865
Total Households: 346,043
Concentration of Millionaires: 11.5%
Median Income for All Households: $91,198
Median Home Value: $425,900
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 and Xerox. And on top of the Stamford area being home to the 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 $972,300.
Forget millionaires. If you’re looking for billionaires, this is the place to go.
Millionaire Households: 86,556
Total Households: 682,720
Concentration of Millionaires: 12.7%
Median Income for All Households: $117,474
Median Home Value: $957,700
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, Facebook, Intel and Tesla are based nearby.
Although this metro area has the highest median home value by far of any urban locale on this list, the region’s housing market has cooled off dramatically. Home prices are down 5.7% year-over-year, according to data from Zillow.