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The nation's wealthiest homebuyers are moving to towns with humble beginnings that have bloomed into millionaire enclaves, and also to a handful of communities that were planned from the start with affluent residents in mind.
To determine which towns made up this list, Zillow.comanalyzed data for towns with populations over 10,000 where the median home value is over a million, and where they saw the biggest increase in percentage of total home sales.
Click on to see fifteen of the nation’s priciest communities that are still open to those with deep enough coffers.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 8 Feb 2011
Median home value: $1,059,596
Increase of total home sales: 156%
The city of Rye, NY—not to be confused with Rye Town, NY, which actually has a larger population than Rye, the city—was settled in 1660 following a treaty with the Mohegan Indians. Due to its location 25 miles from New York City, it’s now a suburban bedroom community for commuters. Rye was named by Coldwell Bankeras the third most expensive place in the U.S. to buy a home in 2010.
Median home value: $1,371,172
Increase of total home sales: 116%
Dating only back to just 1939, it’s still the oldest of the four cities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and was designed by the Olmstead Brothers (sons of the Central Park mastermind), with 28% purposely reserved as open space. Palos Verdes Estates is known as one of the priciest places to buy a home in Southern California, with 14% of the male population comprised of top executives.
Median home value: $1,069,506
Increase of total home sales: 111%
Greenwich, one of Connecticut’s wealthiest towns, is an easy commute to New York, with a 40-50 minute train ride to the city on Metro North, but there are also numerous investment firms right in town. To that point, 24% of the town’s males work in finance and insurance, whereas the top industries for women are educational, professional, scientific and technical services.
Median home value: $1,144,858
Increase of total home sales: 106%
Founded in 1701, Scarsdale is known today as an upscale suburban community to New York City with a charming Tudor downtown village. Doctors, lawyers, and Wall Street professionals in investment and finance are heavily represented in the local workforce.
Median home value: $1,014,899
Increase of total home sales: 85%
An unincorporated community in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alamo had a post-war population boom, but retained its character with help from the Alamo Improvement Association. Now 50, the AIA has endeavored to preserve Alamo’s identity as a semi-rural, low-density residential area, one where the next-door neighbors probably won’t be too close and they could include horses.
Median home value: $1,080,330
Increase of total home sales: 76%
One of the big three of Connecticut’s wealthiest communities, Darien’s denizens commute to Stamford and other local points or New York City (some via two Metro North stops). Its population began rising when it became a Gold Coast summer resort town for well-to-do New Yorkers following the Civil War, eventually transitioning to the year-round residential town it is today.
Median home value: $1,884,079
Increase of total home sales: 35%
Most people are probably aware that Beverly Hills has a rich resident or two, so how about some fun facts? According to the city’s website, “The City of Beverly Hills’ operating budget of more than $300 million is comparable to the Gross National Product of the British Virgin Islands.” This works out to $8,576 per resident.
Median home value: $1,051,547
Increase of total home sales: 65%
New Canaan is another of the top three wealthiest towns in Connecticut, with 30% of its male residents working in finance and insurance. Two Metro North stations serve commuters making the hour-long trip to New York. The area was primarily agricultural until the Revolutionary war, after which the shoemaking industry took over. Like Darien, New Canaan first attracted New Yorkers as a place to summer, and eventually became a year-round place to live.
Median home value: $1,089,268
Increase of total home sales: 56%
It started out with just seven houses in the 1880s, but by the 1920s this residential town surrounded by Oakland was known as the “City of Millionaires,” with a higher concentration of them than anywhere else in America. Judging by its place on the list, it isn’t lacking in millionaires today, either.
Median home value: $1,429,665
Increase of total home sales: 48%
At the base of the Santa Cruz mountains in the Silicon Valley, this one-time frontier town turned resort town is now a semi-rural residential community with high-end boutiques, eateries, and wineries. It’s a peaceful bedroom community for well-heeled Silicon Valley professionals.
Median home value: $1,085,178
Increase of total home sales: 37%
Located 55 miles south of Los Angeles and 10 miles from Santa Ana, Newport Beach is made up of numerous villages, each with its own flavor. It’s got a 10-mile million-dollar coastline to boot—National Resources Defense Council declared the Newport Beach one of the cleanest in the country.
Median home value: $1,023,005
Increase of total home sales: 34%
In a suburban city that once cultivated vineyards of grapes, there is now an apple: Cupertino is the corporate headquarters of Apple. While Apple is the biggest employer with 21,600 as of 2009, other Silicon Valley corporations like HP, Symantec, IBM, Oracle, and NetManage are there as well.
Median home value: $2,142,892
Increase of total home sales: 34%
Located 17 miles south of San Francisco on the peninsula, Hillsborough has only houses: no apartments, no condos. In an effort to preserve the stately nature of grand homes, the incorporated town regulates a minimum house size (which has shifted with different zoning laws) and a minimum lot size of one-half acre.
Median home value: $1,078,121
Increase of total home sales: 24%
Short Hills is an unincorporated area in Millburn with origins as a planned community for nature lovers. The location was chosen for its commute to New York, which remains a major selling point for residents today. Short Hills is also known for its high-end mall including boutiques such as Dior, Cartier, and Chanel.
Median home value: $1,170,025
Increase of total home sales: 24%
Scenic Manhattan Beach is located on the Santa Monica Bay a very commutable 19 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It’s the priciest of L.A.’s beach communities, including Hermosa and Redondo Beach. Some 33% of residents work in fields of professional, scientific, and technical services.