In the sprawling landscape of the United States, beneath the towering skyscrapers and along the quiet streets, a financial symphony unfolds. Let’s venture into the heartlands of opulence, where the American Dream thrives in 12 remarkable cities. These urban gems boast the highest incomes, each with its unique story of success.
From coast to coast, we'll journey through a mosaic of affluence, revealing the places where the pursuit of financial excellence reaches its zenith. So are you ready to explore? Let's get onto this roller coaster!
1. Raleigh, North Carolina
Residents of Raleigh, North Carolina, enjoy a low-cost lifestyle with below-average utility and transportation costs of $4,184.99 and $5,034.25 per year, respectively. While housing and healthcare expenditures may be slightly higher, the city provides a financial buffer, leaving residents with a significant $62,714.21 surplus after satisfying their necessities.
Furthermore, Raleigh's thriving employment market and dynamic cultural scene add to its appeal, making it a desirable choice for people seeking both financial security and a good quality of life.
2. Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia, offers a cost-friendly lifestyle, with utility expenses averaging $4,113.20 annually, slightly below the national average. While housing, groceries, and transportation costs may be a tad higher than average, the city more than compensates with a remarkable financial surplus. After covering essential expenses, residents are left with over $69,000, providing room for savings and leisure activities.
Chesapeake's blend of affordability and a thriving job market make it an enticing destination for those seeking both financial security and a high quality of life, all within a vibrant community.
3. Los Altos, California
Los Altos, which translates to “The Heights” in Spanish, is a city with a distinct profile, located on the western outskirts of Silicon Valley inside the San Francisco Bay area. It is the third most educated city in the country, with 85.9 percent of its adults holding a bachelor's degree or more. Surprisingly, despite its closeness to San Francisco's well-known homelessness concerns, Los Altos has a low SNAP recipiency rate of only 0.5 percent, ranking fourth lowest out of 1,826 communities.
Furthermore, the median home value in this scenic Californian enclave has risen, with the most recent Zillow data from 2023 suggesting a startling typical home worth of $3,902,535, considerably beyond the 2021 figure of $2,000,000.
4. Olathe, Kansas
Olathe, Kansas, in the center of the United States' Middle West, has a picturesque setting that seems tailor-made for economic success. Utilities and transportation costs are lower than the national average, making this a cost-effective option. While the city's housing and medical expenditures may be higher than average, the nearly $81,000 excess left over after paying for necessities makes it an appealing destination to settle down.
Olathe's robust employment market and welcoming community contribute to the city's charm, providing locals with a fulfilling and financially rewarding way of life.
5. Southlake, Texas
With an estimated population of 30,754 in 2021, Southlake is known for its wealth. Remarkably, 73 percent of adults in this city hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Southlake's prosperity can be attributed to its proximity to the DFW International Airport, which spurred rapid growth from the '80s through the '00s.
Family-oriented, the city has a significant 33.2 percent of its population under the age of 18, fostering a strong community spirit. Despite its affluence, Southlake maintains a notably low poverty rate of just 2.3 percent. Zillow reports the average home cost in Southlake at $1,186,969.
6. Cupertino, California
Cupertino is located to the west of San Jose in the Silicon Valley, flanked by Los Altos to the north and Saratoga to the south. It is one of the more densely inhabited cities on our list, with a population of 60,681 as of 2021. Surprisingly, despite its wealth, Cupertino has a somewhat elevated poverty rate of 5.1 percent, highlighting the significance of resolving economic inequality.
This density can be ascribed to the presence of multiple corporate behemoths, such as Apple and Seagate Technology, which has transformed Cupertino into a busy hotbed of technical innovation.
7. Midland, Texas
Midland stands as a city where your money goes a long way. With grocery expenses averaging $5,111.75 annually and healthcare costs at $5,517.42, you'll find yourself with a substantial surplus of $81,589.99 after covering all essential needs. This financial comfort is just one aspect of Midland's appeal.
The city's robust job market, particularly in the oil and gas industry, complements its affordable living, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a high standard of living and promising career opportunities.
8. Aurora, Illinois
Financial security is within grasp in Aurora, Illinois. You can comfortably cover essentials with an annual grocery bill of $5,059.16 and healthcare charges totaling $5,054.00. Housing costs $9,757.89, utilities $4,146.99, and transportation $5,136.53 may appear affordable.
The significant surplus of $73,718.44 left behind is truly amazing. Aurora also has a diversified and active culture, access to outdoor recreational activities, and an expanding job market, making it an ideal location for a well-rounded, rewarding existence.
9. Wellesley, Massachusetts
Wellesley, Massachusetts, located in the greater Boston area, stands out as an intellectual sanctuary, home to prestigious institutions such as Wellesley College, Babson College, and Massachusetts Bay Community College. It's no wonder that the city ranks sixth in the country in terms of the percentage of educated adults with at least a bachelor's degree.
Wellesley strikes a balance between intellect and community, with a population of slightly under 30,000 in 2021 and a poverty rate of 4.9 percent. Furthermore, the average home value in Wellesley will be $1,776,766 by 2023, adding a touch of luxury to its intellectual attractiveness.
10. Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda, Maryland, is renowned for its proximity to the District of Columbia, effectively serving as a “bedroom community” for the nation's capital. With a population of 66,294 as of 2021, it's a vibrant suburban enclave.
Notably, Bethesda claims the title of the second most educated city in the United States, with an impressive 87.9 percent of its adult residents holding bachelor's degrees. However, this intellectual hub does come at a price, as the cost of living in the city tends to be on the higher side.
11. Westfield, New Jersey
Situated just under 20 miles southwest of New York City, Westfield, New Jersey, has earned its reputation as a quintessential “bedroom community” for Manhattan. Its population of 30,950 primarily consists of residents who call Westfield home but commute to work in the city.
Beyond its role as a commuter hub, Westfield boasts its unique attractions, notably Lenape Park, a sprawling 450-acre nature reserve. This suburban oasis offers a tranquil escape, making Westfield a place with suburban tranquility and urban accessibility.
12. Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester, Minnesota, offers a unique opportunity to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle where your income goes a long way. The cost of living in Rochester is below the national average, leaving you with a generous surplus of $66,690.75 after meeting your essential needs.
This financial comfort, paired with the city's exceptional quality of life, makes Rochester an enticing destination for those seeking a well-rounded and prosperous life.
Which City Will You Move To?
So, which city are you planning to move to, folks? Each of the cities mentioned above offers something amazing in its way with a great lifestyle and higher incomes. In the comments below, let us know what you have planned for your near future!
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.