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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Dan Burrows, Contributing Writer
| May 3, 2019
They say a million bucks ain’t what it used to be, but it’s still a huge chunk of change for the vast majority of Americans, especially when it’s liquid.
Back out things like the value of real estate (the bulk of most folks’ wealth is tied up in their homes), employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships, and only 6.2% of American households qualify as actual millionaires. To clarify, that means they have at least $1 million in investable assets. Examples of investable assets include cash, stocks, bonds and funds, among a bunch of other types of investments and financial products.
By raw numbers, most of these millionaire households can be found in and around big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – just as you would expect. But some millionaires prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of major metropolises. Indeed, pockets of millionaires can be found in some far-flung places.
Phoenix Marketing International, a firm that tracks the affluent market, annually ranks 933 urban areas, large and small, based on the percentage of millionaire households in each location. The following list of cities is limited to “micropolitan” areas, which the Census Bureau defines as urban clusters with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, “plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.”
In some cases, these locations benefit from being popular recreational areas or havens for wealthy retirees. In others, a particular industry drives local wealth. Either way, these are the 25 smallest cities and towns boasting the highest concentrations of millionaire households in the U.S.
Micropolitan areas are listed by percentage of millionaire households, rounded to one decimal, from lowest to highest. Estimates of millionaire households are provided by Phoenix Marketing International. Investable assets include education/custodial accounts, individually owned retirement accounts, stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, hedge funds, structured products, ETFs, cash accounts, annuities and cash value life insurance policies. Data on household incomes and home values come from the U.S. Census Bureau, unless otherwise noted.
Small cities and towns are listed by percentage of millionaire households, from lowest to highest. Estimates of millionaire households provided by Phoenix Marketing International. Investable assets include education/custodial accounts, individually owned retirement accounts, stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, hedge funds, structured products, ETFs, cash accounts, annuities and cash value life insurance policies. Data on household incomes and home values come from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Millionaire households: 1,241
Total households: 18,537
Concentration of millionaires: 6.7%
Median income for all households: $80,178 (U.S.: $57,652)
Median home value: $213,900 (U.S.: $193,500)
Gillette is a small city that has seen fortunes made on the back of natural resources, especially coal. Wyoming accounts for about 40% of the nation’s coal production, and the vast majority of the state’s output comes from the Gillette area.
Although coal has been losing out to cheap natural gas in recent years, Gillette isn’t exactly a one-trick pony. The extraction of oil, gas and uranium is also critical to the local economy. Like all Wyoming residents, Gillette’s millionaires benefit from the fact that Wyoming is one of the 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S.
Millionaire households: 904
Total households: 13,456
Median income for all households: $77,328
Median home value: $228,200
The boom times are rolling again in North Dakota.
The state once had the fastest-growing economy in the nation, thanks to the explosion in shale oil drilling. Places like Dickinson, located in the oil-rich Bakken Formation, were mining millionaires. Then oil prices collapsed in 2014 and some folks even started pulling up stakes.
No more. Benchmark U.S. oil prices were up roughly 40% for the year-to-date through May 1. North Dakota oil production is already shattering records this year, and energy analysts expect to see more all-time highs in the months to come.
It also helps that North Dakota is one of the nation’s more tax-friendly states. Indeed, it has been cutting income taxes for several years in a row – to the point that they barely exist.
Millionaire households: 1,403
Total households: 20,669
Concentration of millionaires: 6.8%
Median income for all households: $61,176
Median home value: $311,400
Gardnerville Ranchos is a favorite hiding place for millionaires because of its proximity to Lake Tahoe, which has long been a getaway for the rich and famous. With everything from ski resorts to beaches, the Lake Tahoe area offers year-round activities for well-heeled tourists and full-time residents alike.
Carson City, capital of the Silver State, is just 20 miles to the north of Gardnerville Ranchos, and high rollers can reach Reno’s casinos in an hour.
Millionaire households: 1,710
Total households: 25,194
Median income for all households: $61,093
Median home value: $224,600
The Hudson, New York, micro area has emerged as an upstate hidey-hole for the well-heeled. Roughly 40 miles south of the state capital of Albany, the area abuts the banks of – you guessed it – the Hudson River. Water views, rolling hills and a verdant landscape, (at least in the warmer months), make for many an idyllic scene.
Hudson has become popular with millionaires and non-millionaires alike thanks to its many restaurants, art galleries and nightlife. But the town’s signature draws are antiques and architecture.
Hudson boasts scores of antiques dealers, which led the charge in making the town attractive for new residents, tourists and wealthier folks in search of second homes. At the same time, Hudson is chockablock with architectural gems. The Hudson Historic District is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
Unfortunately for millionaires and folks of lesser means, New York State taxes take a bite. Hefty income taxes and high property taxes make the Empire State one of Kiplinger’s top 10 least tax-friendly states.
Millionaire households: 2,047
Total households: 29,898
Median income for all households: $68,406
Median home value: $385,000
It’s easy to see why Glenwood Springs is popular with millionaires. The small resort city about 160 miles west of Denver is loaded with fun stuff to do – and not just in winter, when skiing is the main attraction in the Colorado Rockies. Hot springs, rafting, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and golf, among many other activities, make Glenwood Springs a year-round destination.
The city’s great appeal is no secret. Glenwood Springs has collected many accolades over the years. It ranked in the top five of Outside magazine’s best places to live in America, and Southern Methodist University once named it the “Most Vibrant Small Town Arts Environment in the United States.”
Millionaire households: 557
Total households: 8,072
Concentration of millionaires: 6.9%
Median income for all households: $59,889
Median home value: $175,900
Iowa winters are long and brutal, but summer couldn’t be sweeter in Spirit Lake. The town sits on the shore of East Okoboji Lake, up north close to the Minnesota border. Spirit Lake is an indirect 3.5-hour drive from Des Moines, but judging by the town’s popularity with millionaires, it’s worth the trip.
Billed as a “a sparkling gem in the Midwest,” activities such as boating, fishing, shopping and fine dining make Spirit Lake a top spot for tourists and summer homes. It’s not like the town comes to a standstill in the off-season, however, thanks to offerings such as hunting and cross-country skiing.
Millionaire households: 701
Total households: 10,068
Concentration of millionaires: 7.0%
Median income for all households: $74,552
Median home value: $357,300
Heber boasts world-class recreational activities for the wealthy and regular Joes alike. In winter, it’s all about skiing. Five-star skiing at the Deer Valley and Sundance ski resorts is roughly a half-hour away. For year-round activities, the Heber Valley features five 18-hole championship golf courses, three state parks and a historic tourism railroad. The micro area even holds a charming Swiss-themed village.
Fully 7% of Heber’s 10,068 households have at least $1 million in investable assets. Median income is almost $17,000 above the national level. Median homes prices top the U.S. median by nearly $164,000.
Millionaire households: 1,777
Total households: 25,447
Median income for all households: $65,834
Median home value: $220,400
If your ideal summer retreat is a lakeside getaway, you could hardly do better than Laconia. The area sits between Lake Winnisquam and Lake Winnipesaukee in the middle of New Hampshire’s famed Lakes Region.
And, unlike more rural parts of the vacation wonderland, Laconia is just a few miles off Interstate 93. That makes for easy access to the White Mountain National Forest about 30 miles to the north. More importantly, it makes Laconia a relatively easy drive from points farther south where millionaires maintain their primary residences.
It also helps that N.H. is a relatively tax-friendly state. As we shall see, another area near Laconia makes this list of small towns with a high percentage of millionaires.
Millionaire households: 387
Total households: 5,493
Median income for all households: $67,321
Median home value: $265,700
The first thing you need to know about Ketchikan is that, even by Alaskan standards, it is remote. The major settlement is perched on Revillagigedo Island, 235 miles southeast from Juneau, in one of the most southeastern stretches of the state. It’s surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, making it a paradise for rugged, outdoors-types.
The town’s economy is driven in large part by commercial fishing – local boosters call it the “Salmon Capital of the World” – and tourism. In 2018, the Ketchikan micro area, with a population of 13,745, welcomed 1.1 million tourists, mostly by sea. That’s because Ketchikan is a popular port of call for the cruise ship industry. Forty ships made 504 stops in Ketchikan last year, delivering scads of tourists to gawk at local natural wonders such as Misty Fjords National Monument.
Millionaire households: 834
Total households: 11,682
Concentration of millionaires: 7.1%
Median income for all households: $56,267
Median home value: $269,900
It’s not hard to understand the allure of Fredericksburg, since it’s smack-dab in the middle of Texas Hill Country. This beautiful region of the Lone Star State has plenty to offer for both outdoorsy types and aesthetes alike. Residents can explore a landscape of rolling hills, spring-fed rivers and lakes, and vast fields of wildflowers. But they can also partake in fine dining, wine tastings, concerts and art shows. A good example that combines the two, while giving a nod to the area’s rich history, is the Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Tour with a wine tasting.
Fredericksburg also benefits from its proximity to Austin, the capital of Texas and a hub for high-paying tech companies, about 90 minutes away.
Millionaire households: 4,189
Total households: 58,440
Concentration of millionaires: 7.2%
Median income for all households: $70,764
Median home value: $231,500
The New Hampshire state capital is home to a horde of state, county, local and federal agencies – and the law firms and professional agencies that support them. Concord also is a major distribution, industrial and transportation hub. Tourism is a key contributor to the local economy, thanks to the nearby New Hampshire International Speedway, as is the state’s increasing emergence as a center of high-tech manufacturing.
Concord also benefits from being within easy reach of Laconia and the state’s famed Lakes Region, as noted earlier. Residents seeking a break from quaint New England living can drive to Boston in less than 90 minutes.
Millionaire households: 769
Total households: 10,709
Median income for all households: $67,472
Median home value: $460,600
When folks think of Steamboat Springs, its reputation as one of the best ski resort towns in the world is likely what first comes to mind. But the area offers a wealth of outdoor fun year-round. Thanks to its location on the Yampa river, Steamboat Springs is perfect for fishing, rafting, tubing and kayaking. The rugged mountain terrain is ideal for hiking, mountain biking, camping, you name it. It also has a trio of 18-hole golf courses.
Millionaires making second homes in the Steamboat Springs area have done more to push up house prices than wages. Although median income in the micro area is roughly $10,000 above than the national level, median home value beats the U.S. median by a whopping $267,100.
Millionaire households: 475
Total households: 6,610
Median income for all households: $70,753
Median home value: $126,000
Like several other small towns on this list, Andrews can thank the oil patch for its relatively high concentration of millionaires. Indeed, Andrews is Texas oil country. Situated just 35 to 40 miles from better-known Texas oil towns such as Midland and Odessa, Andrews saw its first major oil strike way back in 1929.
Times, change, of course, and the Andrews area economy has been forced to diversify into other endeavors. Regardless of how they came by their wealth, however, Texas’s millionaires face a mixed bag when it comes to taxes: There’s no income tax at all, but sales taxes run high, as do property taxes.
Millionaire households: 1,086
Total households: 14,117
Concentration of millionaires: 7.7%
Median income for all households: $74,756
Median home value: $492,300
Jackson is a town in Wyoming’s famed Jackson Hole valley. The greater area we’re talking about here spills over into Idaho, too, and includes Grand Teton National Park, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park and The Teton Wilderness Area. With three major ski resorts and an abundance of other year-round recreational activities, it’s easy to see the appeal for those with means.
And thanks to abundant revenue that the state collects from oil and mineral rights, Wyoming millionaires shoulder one of the lowest tax burdens in the U.S. For those living in Idaho, the tax situation is a bit more mixed.
Millionaire households: 2,769
Total households: 35,675
Concentration of millionaires: 7.8%
Median income for all households: $65,747
Median home value: $513,700
The appeal of Key West to millionaires – and heck, everyone – is pretty self-evident. The sun-kissed island and nearby neighbors offer a tropical paradise in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The allures of the Key West area are well known. Boating, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and lazing on the beach are just some of Key West’s draws. And don’t forget the incomparable sunsets.
Like all Floridians, Key West’s millionaires save a bundle on taxes. The Sunshine State is well known for its absence of a state income tax, which helps make it one of Kiplinger’s top 10 most tax-friendly states.
Millionaire households: 1,252
Total households: 15,857
Concentration of millionaires: 7.9%
Median income for all households: $65,595
Median home value: $326,300
Tiny Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, prides itself on its out-of-the-way feel, with country farms mixing with lavish waterfront estates. It has long been a retreat for the well-to-do of the Mid-Atlantic seeking antique shops and solitude. Easton’s proximity to the beach, abundance of parks and good schools make for an idyllic small-town experience for residents.
At the same time, the town offers easy access to several major cities. It’s less than an hour away from Annapolis, the state capital, while Washington, D.C., and Baltimore can be reached by car in about 90 minutes (traffic willing).
Maryland has the fourth-most millionaires per capita of any state in the U.S., according to Phoenix Marketing International. The downside? Maryland is one of Kiplinger’s 10 least tax-friendly states.
Millionaire households: 1,064
Total households: 13,415
Median income for all households: $73,538
Median home value: $547,700
By this point in our list of small towns with the highest concentrations of millionaires, it should be clear that Western ski resort towns are mighty popular with people of means. (See below for yet even more examples.) So it should come as no surprise that Breckenridge would make the cut.
Naturally, skiing is what first comes to mind when it comes to Breckenridge, but the area supports a wide range of sports and cultural activities through all four seasons. Mountain biking, hiking and fly fishing are just a few of the allures for the millionaire who likes the great outdoors. For more sedentary folks, Breckenridge hosts the National Repertory Orchestra every summer and the Breckenridge Festival of Film every autumn.
Millionaire households: 641
Total households: 7,891
Concentration of millionaires: 8.1%
Median income for all households: $67,535
Median home value: $674,600
No surprise here. Vineyard Haven is a town on Martha’s Vineyard. This island off the coast of Cape Cod – the Census Bureau classifies the entire island as part of the Vineyard Haven micro area – is one of the most desirable summer vacation spots in the Northeast and has long been a favorite of the rich, the famous and the powerful. Indeed, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have summered there, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis long maintained a home on the island.
Naturally, this tony locale is not easy on the wallet, as evidenced by the exorbitant real estate prices. It also can get a bit crowded. Martha’s Vineyard has 17,000 or so year-round residents, but the population can swell to 200,000 during peak summer months.
On the plus side, Massachusetts’ reputation as a high-tax state is overblown.
Millionaire households: 2,132
Total households: 25,483
Concentration of millionaires: 8.4%
Median income for all households: $83,860
Median home value: $560,600
The Kapaa micropolitan area includes the entirety of Kauai, Hawaii’s fourth-largest island. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is one of the state’s more undeveloped locales. With pristine beaches, lush forests, soaring mountains and relatively few people, Kapaa (and the surrounding area) is an ideal place for a millionaire’s tropical island nest.
The downside? The Aloha State, one of Kiplinger’s 10 least tax-friendly states, is known for its high cost of living – and high taxes. Be that as it may, property taxes as a percentage of home value are the lowest in the U.S.
Millionaire households: 6,349
Total households: 74,055
Concentration of millionaires: 8.6%
Median income for all households: $78,436
Median home value: $260,700
Torrington is the largest town in Litchfield County, which has long been a popular retreat for Manhattan’s wealthy and chic looking for a remote, mountainous retreat. (It’s an in-state draw for all the millionaires from the Stamford area, too.)
As Vogue magazine says of the area: “There’s something for everyone: art galleries, outdoor activities, shopping, great food. With its covered bridges, forests and rivers, the scenery is gorgeous. In fact, every season challenges the next for which is more beautiful.”
Although Torrington might be hidden in the northwest corner of the state, millionaires can’t escape Connecticut’s onerous tax bite. Real estate taxes are among the highest in the country, and the state has not only a luxury tax, but the country’s only gift tax.
Millionaire households: 1,756
Total households: 20,210
Concentration of millionaires: 8.7%
Median income for all households: $83,803
Median home value: $471,100
You can sum up the appeal of Edwards in one word: skiing. The nearby world-class resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek draw big-spending skiers hoping to see and be seen all winter long. But the area offers much more than pricey lift tickets and celebrity spotting. Fly fishing, hiking and whitewater rafting draw folks to town in the summer months. High-end restaurants, plush lodges and spas are just some of the ways millionaires can pamper themselves.
But it’s Colorado’s status as a tax-friendly state for both retirees and working residents that helps make Edwards a great deal for year-round living. It’s a good thing, too, considering the high price of homes in the area.
Millionaire households: 1,156
Total households: 12,928
Concentration of millionaires: 8.9%
Median income for all households: $90,749
Median home value: $343,100
Everything costs more in Juneau. Indeed, it’s one of the most expensive U.S. cities in which to live. Chalk it up to the remote location of Alaska’s capital, which is tucked away in the southeast corner of the state hard against the Canadian border. Groceries alone cost almost 50% more than the U.S. national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index.
And while it helps to be a millionaire to live in Juneau, it’s increasingly difficult to become one. Much of Alaska’s wealth is tied to the energy business. The 2014 slump in energy prices touched off the state’s worst recession in three decades. While prices have recovered, Alaska’s downturn isn’t expected to end until later this year.
On the plus side, Alaska is one of the most tax-friendly states in the union. Not only is there no state income tax, but the government actually pays residents an annual stipend.
Millionaire households: 1,331
Total households: 14,570
Concentration of millionaires: 9.1%
Median income for all households: $89,874
Median home value: $238,900
The city of Williston expanded rapidly in the first half of this decade, according to the Census Bureau, driven by the explosion in shale oil drilling that once gave North Dakota the fastest-growing economy in the nation. Like Dickinson, this city in the oil-rich Bakken Formation soon found itself home to fracking millionaires. Jobs dried up and wages fell during the recent bust years, but the town’s fortunes are looking up again.
The millionaires who remained can look forward to better times ahead. As noted above, oil prices are on a tear in early 2019, and North Dakota’s production levels are setting record highs.
Millionaire households: 1,000
Total households: 8,006
Concentration of millionaires: 12.5%
Median income for all households: $110,190
Median home value: $285,300
Los Alamos sounds like an unlikely place to find a lot of millionaires, but we’re talking about the concentration of millionaire households, not the total number of millionaires. And on that relative basis, Los Alamos really stands out.
The tiny town about 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe is home to a government nuclear weapons laboratory and a number of chemists, engineers and physicists. It’s a small area with a small population but a large percentage of highly educated and highly trained engineers and scientists.
New Mexico’s personal income tax rates top out at 4.9% on taxable income over $16,000 for single filers and over $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Property taxes are modest, too.
Millionaire households: 1,880
Total households: 15,027
Median income for all households: $94,952
Median home value: $558,300
Skiing, luxury shopping, world famous film festivals – the Summit Park, Utah, area has everything a millionaire could ask for and more. The Summit Park micro area, which also includes Park City, is a short drive from Salt Lake City and has the highest concentration of millionaire households of any small town in the U.S.
The aforementioned Park City, which hosts Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, also boasts several world-class ski resorts. As for taxes, millionaires could do worse. The Beehive State has a 4.95% flat income tax system. Property taxes are low and sales taxes are average.