Populations

Where America's Wealthiest Suburbanites Live—and Where They Don't


(Corrects the geographic location of the affluent suburbs of Phoenix in the last paragraph.)

For years the American residential dream went something like this: Move to a city, work hard, and eventually you’ll make enough to move out. So perhaps it’s not surprising that today many of America’s largest metropolitan areas house their highest earners on the outskirts of town. Exactly where they live varies from city to city—or rather, from suburb to suburb.

An analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek of data recently compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau offers a new level of detail in describing how far away—and in what direction—the nation’s top-earning suburbanites live, relative the local urban center.

In the New York metropolitan area, the greatest concentration of top earners live in New Jersey. In Bergen County, for example, the median household income was $84,255 in 2012.

Top earners have vacated Downtown L.A. and the area south of the Civic Center in favor of wide-open spaces closer to the beach.

Here, the highest earners populate Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, including Glencoe, Winnetka, and Highland Park. A commuter rail system leaves Cubs games an hour away.

Here, the wealthiest residents have congregated just west of the city center in the well-to-do River Oaks area and a bit further out in Memorial.

Center City in Philadelphia is surrounded by a local ring of lower-income housing. High-crime areas such as the city’s Kensington neighborhood and Camden, N.J., remain unattractive to the wealthy.

The top earners tend to live outside the city in suburbs to the north and east, such as Glendale and Scottsdale.

Gambrell is a contributing graphics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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