Valley of gold: Silicon Valley suburb retains richest spot tag for third year

By: | Updated: February 14, 2019 10:11 AM

Billionaires who have called Atherton home include Google’s Eric Schmidt and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

silicon valley, atherton, california, google, facebook, Richest Places index, google headquarter, America richest place, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl SandbergBoth Google and Facebook Inc. have headquarters within 10 miles of Atherton, which is nestled inside the nation’s tech hub dubbed “Silicon Valley.” (Reuters)

Atherton, California, is America’s richest place for the third year in a row. Its residents made an average of $450,696 in 2017, a $7,293 increase from the prior year, according to the annual Bloomberg Richest Places index.

Billionaires who have called Atherton home include Google’s Eric Schmidt and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Both Google and Facebook Inc. have headquarters within 10 miles of Atherton, which is nestled inside the nation’s tech hub dubbed “Silicon Valley.” Stanford University is just two miles down the road from the town.

Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer said the tree-lined streets and lot sizes of at least one acre offer the residents privacy.

“We value a semi-rural environment,” said Widmer, who moved to Atherton in 1996. “There are few sidewalks and many places don’t have street lights.”

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Scarsdale, New York, a wealthy suburb north of Manhattan, moved up to the No. 2 spot on this year’s list as its residents enjoyed a $30,000 increase, on average, in annual household income from the prior year, pushing Cherry Hills Village, Colorado to the No. 3 spot. Top school districts are one reason why residents choose to live there.

“We moved here as many did because of the outstanding school system,” said Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert, a 40-year resident. “That is one of the primary drivers.”

Location, Location, Location

Accessibility to a city center is also a key characteristic of all three. Just like Atherton is accessible to San Francisco and Scarsdale is a train’s ride away from New York City, Cherry Hills Village is a 15 to 20 minute drive to both Downtown Denver and the city’s tech center.

“It happens to be located kind of beautifully,” said Steve Blank, a managing broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in Denver.

Big wigs living in Cherry Hills Village include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway.

Wealth Concentration

More than half of the top 100 richest places in America were either in the tri-state area — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — or California. Still, a number of Midwest and Southwest areas made the cut and a handful even are in the top 20.

The bar to make it among the top 100 places was raised to $209,000 in annual income from $198,000 a year earlier. Four places made their top 100 debut this year including two in California: Tamalpais-Homestead Valley in Marin county and beach city Del Mar; Jericho in New York’s Long Island and Medina, Minnesota.

Wealth is further concentrated specifically in six counties: Westchester, Bergen and Fairfield counties outside of Manhattan, Cook county of Chicago, Los Angeles County and Montgomery county in Maryland, bordering Washington D.C..

Rounding out the top ten are Los Altos Hills and Hillsborough in California, Short Hills, New Jersey, Highland Park in Texas, Darien in Connecticut, Bronxville in New York and Glencoe, Illinois. Glencoe, a suburb seven miles north of Northwestern University, climbed five spots to land the last spot in the top 10 for the first time.

Big Movers

Rumson, a wealthy corner of Monmouth County, New Jersey, ascended 19 spots into the top 20. It’s residents who commute to NYC can choose from two different ferry services that are within a 15 minute drive. Bernardsville, another New Jersey town, jumped 31 spots and the average income increased $30,000 to $231,336.

Florida moved down the exclusivity list. The same four places in Florida made the top 100 list but three of them ranked lower this year versus last. Indian River Shores, near Vero Beach, dropped out of the top 50 as the average annual income decreased by $20,000.

Methodology

Bloomberg evaluated inflation-adjusted household data for all U.S. “places”, as defined by the Census, with a minimum of 2,000 households and ranked them based on average household income. Nearly 6,250 met the criteria.

Average household income excluded households without any type of income. Displayed are the top 50.

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