A million dollars ain't what it used to be, but it still earns you entry into an elite group. Only 5.5% of the country, or about 6.8 million households, qualify as bona fide millionaires. That means they have investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships.
Large populations and lucrative industries make New York and Los Angeles home to the most millionaires in America. No surprise there. However, it might surprise you that neither of these metropolises places among the top 10 cities with the highest concentration of millionaires.
Phoenix Marketing International, a firm that tracks the affluent market, ranked 915 urban areas, both 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 will examine small cities with big millionaire populations in a separate story. Here are the 10 largest metropolitan areas boasting the highest concentration of millionaires in the U.S.
Where millionaires live in America
Where millionaires live in America
10. Anchorage, Alaska
Millionaire Households: 11,299
Total Households: 147,919
Concentration of Millionaires: 7.6% (U.S.: 5.5%)
Median Income for All Households: $78,326 (U.S.: $53,889)
Median Home Value: $290,500 (U.S.: $178,600)
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 30% higher than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index. 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 sunk Alaska into its worst recession in 30 years.
The economy of St. Mary's County, and in particular Lexington Park, 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.
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 $13-billion-a-year business and accounts for 46,000 jobs, according to Napa Valley Vintners, an industry trade group. And fine wine and tourism look to be lucrative businesses, judging by Napa's concentration of millionaires.
Years of relentless growth driven by high-paid tech workers have given San Francisco 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 77% 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 metro area, fully 23,000 have more than $5 million in investable assets.
Located an hour's drive north of Walt Disney World, smack-dab in the middle of Florida, you'll find The Villages, a sprawling retirement haven made up of multiple communities with town squares, stores, restaurants and recreational facilities. Well-heeled retirees who like to hit the links can play for free on any of the 36 executive courses at The Villages; plus, residents enjoy free membership at a dozen championship country club courses. If you prefer to hobnob away from the clubhouse, The Villages also sports a polo stadium. Retiring baby boomers with comfortable nest eggs are helping to make The Villages one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country.
(Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Millionaire Households: 26,146
Total Households: 327,356
Concentration of Millionaires: 8.0%
Median Income for All Households: $74,460
Median Home Value: $580,200
If you're looking to rub elbows with millionaires in an idyllic setting, Honolulu is the place to be. But the privilege comes at a steep price. Blame Hawaii's remoteness. Pretty much everything in Honolulu is more expensive than it would be on the mainland because it all has to make the long journey by boat or by plane. Overall living expenses in Honolulu run 90% above the national average, with costs for housing and utilities coming in particularly high. You can also blame the so-called Paradise Tax, says Jennie Allison of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, a nonprofit research group, referring to the premium residents are willing to cough up to live in such a paradise.
Also known as Ventura County, the Oxnard metro area includes the pricey locales of Thousand Oaks (median income: $100,946), Moorpark ($99,777) and Oak Park ($120,696). 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. With its Mediterranean climate and miles of relatively uncrowded beaches, it's easy to see the appeal.
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 are also famous for being home to exorbitant living expenses. Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel and Tesla are based nearby. No wonder overall housing-related costs are the highest in the nation, according to the Cost of Living Index. A six-figure median income helps cushion the burden, but just barely.
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. health-care costs are slightly below the national average, for example, and a wide-ranging bus and metro system makes getting to and around the District surprisingly reasonable. And don't forget about all the free museums and monuments.
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 and Pitney Bowes. And on top of Stamford being home to the highest concentration of millionaires in the nation, the state of Connecticut has the second-highest concentration of millionaire households after Maryland. You'll find the toniest of the tony population in Greenwich, a small town where the median household income tops $128,000 a year and the typical home is worth nearly $1.2 million. So forget millionaires. If you're looking for billionaires, this is the place to go.