The Richest Cities in the USA

10. Boulder, Colorado

  • Median household income: $88,535
  • Median home value: $592,000

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder was named the Best Place to Live in the most recent ranking from U.S. News.

“Been here 22 years,” Redditor pacard writes. “It’s great — beautiful scenery, open spaces, awesome restaurants, close to mountains, smart people. The biggest issue for me is that rent is so high that Big City Burrito closed, now I have to go to Loveland or Fort Collins to get my burrito.”

The city is home to the University of Colorado, so it makes sense that a whopping 65% of adults here have a bachelor’s degree, placing Boulder in the top 10% of all U.S. metros.

9. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California

  • Median household income: $89,269
  • Median home value: $839,500 (highest 10% of U.S. metros)

While COVID-19 had a devastating impact in 2020, Santa Cruz’s economy normally gets a huge boost from its tourism industry. Four million visitors flock to the city’s sandy beaches and redwood forests annually.

As you might expect, unemployment tends to spike in the winter months, but rates were steadily dropping prior to the pandemic.

The University of California, Santa Cruz is situated in this area, and nearly 44% of adults have a bachelor’s degree.

“It’s a beautiful place to live, an amazing climate, with tons of awesome outdoor stuff to do. However, it’s pretty expensive, heading towards $3,000 a month average for a 700-square-foot apartment, and an even $1 million for an average house,” scemcee wrote on Reddit in 2020.

8. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

  • Median household income: $92,236
  • Median home value: $629,600

This metro area just west of Los Angeles provides a modest reprieve from the insane housing prices in the City of Angels. Yet the coastal cities and towns here boast beautiful climates, easy access to parks and the waterfront and plenty of business opportunities.

Ventura, nicknamed the “city of good fortune,” offers plenty of high-paying jobs in health care, tourism and tech. The outdoor clothing company Patagonia is also based here.

Still, locals chatting on Quora agree that one of the best parts of living in the city is its proximity to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara for work out of town.

“I lived there for 25 years. The weather is great, the whole town is a gem,” Rick Jorgenson says. “I worked in the San Fernando Valley for 15 years and commuted back and forth.”

7. Napa, California

  • Median household income: $92,769
  • Median home value: $670,000

Napa is known around the world for its exquisite wineries, a reputation that supports a broader tourism industry.

When the pandemic isn’t crippling travel, unemployment is very low. Vacationers come from far and wide to stay at hotels, visit spas, walk the riverfront promenade and spend a small fortune at quirky shops and farmers’ markets.

“Rental properties are very difficult to come by, and housing is challenging when you are looking for something affordable,” says Kelly A. Mitchell on Quora, adding that people with means get to enjoy numerous outdoor activities and entertainment options all year.

6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

  • Median household income: $94,027
  • Median home value: $503,000

Seattle is home to some of the biggest names in the country, whether it’s titanic companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, T-Mobile and Nordstrom or billionaire leaders like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, who built their mansions in the town of Medina next door.

The population is highly educated, with the University of Washington located downtown, and over 44% of adults having a bachelor’s degree up on the wall.

Ian Lurie on Quora calls Seattle “one of the most beautiful U.S. cities you’ll find, with lots of lakes, the bay, mountains and green stuff.” He also praises the seafood, arts scene and welcoming atmosphere, though other critics call Seattle residents overly materialistic.

5. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts, USA cityscape at the Old State House.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
  • Median household income: $94,430
  • Median home value: $482,700

Harvard and Boston University churn out great minds by the thousands, and their presence buoys the whole region’s money-making potential. Close to half the adults in this area, which also pokes into New Hampshire, have a bachelor’s degree.

Unemployment is low, and the thriving economy also includes several major medical institutions and research facilities.

“If you’re in a STEM field, there are a ton of opportunities especially with research, health care, pharma,” says Supriya Manot on Quora. “New England is gorgeous — you’re not too far away from mountains, beaches, etc. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Cape Cod are beautiful getaways.”

4. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

  • Median household income: $97,053
  • Median home value: $444,500

This metropolitan area is split down the middle by a brutal economic divide, one of the worst in the entire country. Despite the extremely high median income here, many residents live in poverty, particularly in the former manufacturing hub of Bridgeport.

The top 1% in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk make 62.2 times more than the bottom 99%, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

If you fall on the right side of the economic divide, you’ll have plenty of amenities to enjoy, including a slew of highly regarded beaches, parks and restaurants. And Stamford to the west is a major corporate hub home to several Fortune 500 companies, including telecom giant Charter Communications.

“Stamford is one of the top places to be in the nation! It is largely clean … safe, rich, hosts national TV shows due to it being in metro New York City, and when you get tired of the place, you can go to America’s premier city in less than 20 minutes,” Mike Jackson on Quora says.

3. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria

  • Median household income: $105,659
  • Median home value: $446,300

The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area encompasses all of the federal district and parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The region’s known for its jaw-dropping celebrity mansions; everyone from Barack Obama to Jeff Bezos has a multimillion-dollar estate there.

As you might expect, well-paying government jobs abound. And aside from all the national memorials and presidential accommodations, the region houses Georgetown University and other top educational institutions. Over half the adults here have a bachelor’s degree.

“The economy in general is stable, with low unemployment, because so much of the city is tied to the government, and the government isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” writes Kelsey L. Hayes, a former resident, on Quora.

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California

  • Median household income: $114,696
  • Median home value: $940,900

You’ll need close to $1 million to secure a typical home in sunny San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, but that’s not such a tall order when the typical household is raking in six figures.

Anyone earning less can cram into a tiny flat, but they won’t be able to escape the outrageous cost of living in the area. “I don’t like how everything people like to do costs $$$$,” writes clarence_carter on Reddit. “I guess since the apartments are too small, it’s hard to have proper low-key kickbacks.”

San Francisco itself is considered the Golden State’s commercial and financial center, packed with banks, venture capital firms and Fortune 500 companies. Jobs in tech, tourism, law, architecture and communications abound.

And with renowned educational institutions like Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley in the neighborhood, over half of adults have a bachelor’s degree.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

  • Median household income: $130,865
  • Median home value: $1,116,400

Yes, California appears a total of seven times on this list — and here is the richest region of all.

Unemployment is low, education is high, and incomes are out of this world when compared to people in other areas of the country. The typical household here pulls in a mind-boggling $85,000 more than the typical household in Mississippi.

San Jose itself, the capital of Silicon Valley, hosts more than 2,500 high-tech companies and 90,000 jobs. Think Cisco, eBay, Adobe, PayPal, Samsung, Acer, Hewlett Packard and Zoom.

“The quality of life [in San Jose] is rather good, in my opinion, but it certainly helps if you have a remunerative livelihood. The cost of living, especially the housing costs, is HIGH,” notes Debaditya Bhattacharjee on Quora. “The scenery is spectacular, with splendid mountain vistas in the southern sections of the city.”

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