We've all heard of them – areas of the country where super-affluence rules, and everyone seems to make salaries that are well above average. Where are these pockets of incredible wealth, and how did they get that way?
I haven't found all of these places – at least, not yet – but I did poke around the U.S. Census Bureau's site for a while, looking for the ritziest parts of the northeastern United States. Here are three of the most affluent towns I could dig up, where average annual salaries are well over a quarter-million bucks.
1. Scarsdale, NY: $354,201
Made famous in the early 1980s when private school headmistress Jean Harris shot and killed her longtime lover, the famous Scarsdale Diet author Dr. Herman Tarnower, Scarsdale is comfortably nestled within the tony confines of Westchester County, NY. Founded as a farming community in 1788, the village became a commuter town for those working in Manhattan in the years following the advent of the Harlem Railroad in 1846.
Not surprisingly, Scarsdale residents are well-educated, with nearly 85% holding a bachelor's degree or higher. Homeownership is very high, at over 87% -- and the median 2014 sales price is a whopping $1,050,000, according to Trulia.
2. Weston, CT: $294,731
Wealthy families enjoy a rural lifestyle in this picturesque town 45 miles from New York City, where many of its inhabitants work. One of the upscale members of Fairfield County, Weston has preserved its bucolic environs by dedicating nearly 25% of the town to open space.
There is a price to be paid if you want to enjoy the area's pastoral views on a full-time basis, however: The median sales price for a home in this town is a rather hefty $758,250.
3. Dover, MA: $255,815
This rural hamlet of 5,500 serves as a bedroom community for nearby Boston, and is mainly residential in nature. Much like Weston, Connecticut, Dover ardently preserves its countrified feel by investing heavily in open space preservation.
Education is a high priority for the inhabitants of Dover, and the Dover-Sherborn Regional High School system is ranked No. 7 in the state of Massachusetts by U.S. News & World Report. The working-age population is highly educated, as well, with over 83% holding at least a bachelor's degree.
Housing is pricey here, with the median house value just a smidgeon more than $900,000. Nearly all housing is owner-occupied, with a small percentage of renters living in town. Tenants pay top dollar, too: median rents are more than $2,000 per month. Home prices appear to be falling in Dover this year, however, with the median sales price of $373,700 down by almost 46% compared to last year.
While you need not reside in a big city to earn a large paycheck, it appears that you must, at least, live within a reasonable commuting distance from a busy metropolitan area to bring home the big bucks. For these particular Northeastern towns, the trade-off certainly seems to be worthwhile.