July 19, 2008

Bay Area – highest median family income

Best places to live 2008 – Top 25: Biggest earners – from MONEY Magazine

Biggest earners
Here are towns from the Best Places database with the highest median family income.
Rank City Median 2007 family income
1 New Canaan, CT $231,138
2 Darien, CT $218,130
3 Lake Forest, IL $212,122
4 Saratoga, CA $196,420
5 Westport, CT $193,540
6 Los Altos, CA $189,839
7 Potomac, MD $183,258
8 McLean, VA $180,103
9 Wellesley, MA $172,900
10 University Park, TX $170,150
11 Bethesda, MD $167,043
12 Southlake, TX $166,878
13 Danville, CA $160,560
14 Greenwich, CT $157,232
15 Ridgewood, NJ $153,436
16 Manhattan Beach, CA $151,258
17 La Canada Flintridge, CA $150,985
18 Bloomfield Township, MI $150,969
19 Los Gatos, CA $150,556
20 Wilmette, IL $149,667
21 Lafayette, CA $149,597
22 Dranesville, VA $149,294
23 Deerfield, IL $148,612
24 Highland Park, IL $148,131
25 Garden City, NY $147,804

Thanks to Madhaus for pointing this out. Congrats to the Bay Area for taking a whopping 4 out of the top 25 cities with highest median incomes.

NY only has 1 and it’s in dirt cheap Long Island. CT has a few, but those hedge funders are doomed anyway.

I think the most important metric, what really defines how special a place is, is the “Family purchasing power”. Let’s look at the last few:

  • Los Gatos: $440,376
  • Garden City: $273,437
  • Greenwich: $604,400

Ouch. Greenwich beat Los Gatos. <sigh>

What can we do to make living here more expensive so that we can only have the best and brightest people here?

Sunnyvale is a top 100 city. Here’s why:

Median age 37.5 35.9
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
77.2% 73.7%
Married 50.9% 57.5%
Divorced 9.0% 8.3%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
308.9 104.2
Amount spent on vacations
(domestic and foreign, household avg. per year)
$8,352 $8,007

Check out that diversity index. You’ll never find a place as diverse as the Real Bay Area.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am

26 Responses to “Bay Area – highest median family income”

  1. Micky Says:

    “Los Gatos: $440,376”


    That is the purchasing power of the average Los Gatos resident??

    That will make the coming option ARM reset storm pretty interesting then, considering the average house in Los Gatos goes for about $1 million+!

  2. DreamT Says:

    Micky – what’s your point? Primary house equity is typically not included in the computation of purchasing power. So we’re talking about a place where the average resident seems to be able to buy 40%+ of their house value overnight if they’d wish to. Also ARM resets will affect the people with very low (including negative) purchasing power, not people who could afford to take a 5-year sabbatical.

  3. nomadic Says:

    Not to mention that people with that kind of money generally had to be pretty intelligent to get it. They would at least be financially savvy enough not to get an Option ARM.

  4. madhaus Says:

    It’s SJ Mercury/Dataquick time again! Bringing you the highlights and lowlights of the Real Bay Area!

    This week’s news finds Palo Alto’s downtown stats merging with Mayfield, Mountain View hits it out of the park, and Almaden is sorry it asked to go to the party.

    Community Zip Med Price % Chg* $/SqFt # Sold % Chg*

    Belmont 94002 $800,000 -20.4% $504 24 0.0% Now that is quite a correction
    Burlingame 94010 $1,575,000 -3.8% $741 40 -14.9% Hillsborough may push up the median, gravity pulls it back down
    Cupertino 95014 $1,072,500 33.3% $609 61 -21.8% When you care enough to buy the very best school district
    Los Altos 94022 $1,595,000 -7.7% $673 21 -38.2%
    Los Altos 94024 $1,595,000 -0.5% $768 36 -2.7% And now both LA zips are down, with identical medians
    Los Gatos 95030 $1,825,000 21.7% $784 13 -27.8% That’s actually respectable
    Los Gatos 95032 $1,080,000 3.9% $590 38 -15.6%
    Los Gatos 95033 $797,500 -3.6% $472 11 -21.4%Menlo Park 94025 $1,105,000 -0.2% $691 38 -39.7%
    Millbrae 94030 $1,000,000 49.3% $625 20 -9.1% So why is Millbrae doing so well?
    Mountain View 94040 $1,097,500 22.6% $654 21 -38.2%
    Mountain View 94041 $952,000 26.9% $522 7 -58.8%
    Mountain View 94043 $656,000 5.8% $485 28 -6.7% And Mountain View scores a hat trick with all zips up
    Palo Alto 94301 $1,395,000 -15.5% $992 20 5.3%
    Palo Alto 94306 $1,223,000 28.7% $896 32 -17.9% Here we see a flood of buyers rejecting ’01 for ’06, as their medians and $/sf start converging. Note ’01 has dropped below $1000/sf, finally.
    Palo Alto/E Palo Alto 94303 $800,000 26.5% $305 41 -26.8% There, one part of Palo Alto is getting better
    Portola Valley 94028 n/a n/a $929 7 -22.2%
    Redwood C/SW 94061 $815,000 -5.2% $514 35 -16.7%
    Redwood C/280 W 94062 $1,157,000 -0.6% $638 23 -48.9%
    Redwood C/Shores 94065 $786,500 -0.6% $497 10 -61.5% unlike last week, all RC zips down
    San Carlos 94070 $1,022,500 1.5% $614 33 -32.7% an actual increase!
    San Mateo 94402 $898,000 -27.1% $617 21 -36.4%
    San Mateo 94403 $719,500 -6.4% $529 35 -32.7%
    San Mateo 94404 $839,750 -9.9% $507 25 -43.2% and the whole city is down
    SJ/Almaden 95120 $950,000 -6.5% $458 39 -20.4% anyone still claim this is RBA at these prices?
    SJ/Willow G 95125 $747,000 -7.2% $494 55 -31.3% At least here it’s approaching $500 a foot
    SJ/West CUSD 95129 $812,000 -12.1% $561 31 -6.1%
    Santa Clara 95051 $624,000 11.4% $500 53 0.0% Somebody is happy about these results, $500 a foot, better than Almaden
    Santa Clara 95054 $790,000 3.9% $430 22 -18.5%
    Saratoga 95070 $1,320,000 -9.9% $632 22 -53.2% Not even as good as Cupertino
    Sunnyvale 94087 $940,000 -1.3% $601 48 -40.0% Ah, back to the $600 a foot level, I’m living in the RBA again!

  5. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – Thanks, I did mean to mention that very point but couldn’t find a nice way to say it!
    madhaus – Let’s say I’m neither sad nor surprised. Are you? 😛

  6. WillowGlenner Says:

    I think these results from dataquick are difficult to intrepret. As I have mentioned before I bought in prime WG in December 2006 for $455 sq ft., which is called out as impossible if you read the RE press. Additionally, the areas with the mini mansions always have lower price per sq ft than places like Downtown San Mateo. Thats what you are seeing in Almaden, with a median price of $950K, which is certainly on the high side, even though san mateo has higher price per sq ft- with a much lower median pricepoint. All that means is there are dinky houses on small lots on San Mateo, while Almaden typically has large spacious homes. Then the effect of the typical lot size comes into play too. Its a tough call.

    All I am taking away from these dataquick numbers now is that the market is pretty stable. There were some significant declines and now just a bunch of back and forth every week who is up and who is down.

  7. Micky Says:

    “Not to mention that people with that kind of money generally had to be pretty intelligent to get it.”


    Oh man, you guys are a riot. Thank god I left Cali. You pot smoking dipshits will find ANY excuse to justify your idiotic home prices.

    But hey, if you want to continue drinking the koolaid, so be it. Enjoy your front row seat for the continuation of the housing debacle once the option ARMs and Alt-A loans begin resetting at the start of 2009. Amazing the level of hubris that exists in the pretentious Bay Area.

    Just do me this one favor: when your houses crash in value, suck it up and take the losses like men. Don’t scream to the government for handouts.

  8. DreamT Says:

    Micky – Wow, you’re a very unhappy person. But based on your choice of insults, I’d say you’re picking on the wrong people.

  9. Stevo Says:

    Hey Micky –

    Good luck in ‘bama, or wherever you moved. “Cali” rulez, and the fact that you are still tracking how we’re doing just shows how much you miss us all.


  10. Real Estater Says:

    Who cares about ARMs reset? Real Bay Area folks don’t use those loans. Anybody who does use it isn’t going to sit around til ’09 waiting for the knife to fall.

  11. nomadic Says:

    Hey Micky – if any old dumbsh*t can get a million bucks, how many millions do you have?

    (And my post had nothing to do with “justifying” home prices.)

  12. Pralay Says:

    Real Bay Area folks don’t use those loans.

    Do you have any data to prove it? I should not be asking this question to you, but recently I realized that you started liking data and statistics. So I thought may be you have some data. Or is it just another “firm grip on the pulse of the market”?

    All though this is not related to South Bay, but this article gives some idea about all the expensive markets.

    A good number have turned to “exotic” loans and ARMs. According to First American LoanPerformance, more than 45 percent of mortgages in San Francisco in 2005 were interest-only mortgages, and one-quarter of mortgages were negative-amortization loans.

    This year, despite a slowing housing market and lower prices, more than one-third of mortgages originated in San Francisco have been interest-only, and more than 30 percent are negative amortization.

    I wonder why South Bay would be any different from San Francisco where homes are “flying out the window”?

  13. You can totally afford this with your high median income in the Bay Area… [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] that the Bay Area has many of the highest median incomes, that means I know you can afford to donate to […]

  14. Micky Says:

    “Good luck in ‘bama, or wherever you moved. “Cali” rulez, and the fact that you are still tracking how we’re doing just shows how much you miss us all.”

    It was actually Chicago that I moved to. 🙂

    And I miss “Cali” about as much as I miss a bad case of diarrhea. Hmmmm, that is somewhat metaphorical when I think about it. LOL

    And the reason I “track” you as you indicate has nothing to do with missing any of you; it’s akin to the same sense of amusement I get when I watch a viral video of some jackass performing a stunt that goes bad. It’s the free comedy that I crave. 😛

    But hey, if it makes you feel better to think that anyone outside Cali is just some inbred redneck or outsider that can never know the “joys” of living in California, so be it. That sort of mindset goes well with that hubris comment I made earlier. 😉

    And “tootles” to you. Enjoy your *cough cough* nice weather.

  15. nomadic Says:


    It would be interesting if anyone found data on the prevalance of neg-am or IO loans by zip code. I think you’d find a much higher proportion of them in the lower-cost neighborhoods. Then again, some impatient people without money of their own would want to sell their souls for a place in an expensive area now. (Just like the people who bought any old house just because a mortgage broker told them they could afford it. Example: the infamous strawberry pickers in Salinas buying the $700k house on a $17k salary.)

  16. austindweller Says:


    I share your opinions about CA. However, not the anger. It’s no doubt a over hyped place with nothing really to back up the hype. I moved out of CA and already feeling great, saving money on taxes and expenses and the better quality of life to boot.

    But why do you resort to anger or contempt towards CA residents? These hardworking individuals who are ready to face the CA style life are giving most in taxes to the Federal Government to run the nation. Also they don’t get a good chunk of Fed investment back for the proportion of taxes they contribute to nation. Thus CA in a way is funding the whole nation with their hard work. So the productivity in CA is kind of being used for the welfare of the rest of the USA. So why crib and insult them? Just sit back and enjoy the benefits.

  17. madhaus Says:

    nomadic those maps the Federal Reserve of NY posted were the best I could find on those loans by zip code, and the data supplier made them remove the actual numbers, unfortunately. There were a LOT of Alt-A loans written here between 2003-2007, which means the loan had some questions somewhere. As Mr. Mortgage said, Alt-A is in a suburb of subprime. Whether the Alt-A’s were also Interest Only, or even worse, pick-a-payment-including-neg-am is data I would love to see.

  18. madhaus Says:

    WillowGlenner, I share the DQ results every week so we can see what is happening, is there a trend, etc. That’s how I noticed that Millbrae was going gangbusters while a couple of RBA zips had peaked (such as mine) and were now dropping. Looks like 94301 finally got too expensive.

    I actually have a couple questions for you on investment real estate if you are willing to email offline. Just email me at my username over at gmail, if you’re willing.

  19. Pralay Says:

    I think you’d find a much higher proportion of them in the lower-cost neighborhoods. Then again, some impatient people without money of their own would want to sell their souls for a place in an expensive area now.

    Lower cost neighborhoods are already history.

    Regarding impatient people, that is always the case. A group of people buy because they can afford – comfortably. And second group of people buy because they want to keep up with first group. That kind of trend was always there in past and will always be there in future. But the problem is that relaxed lending standard and low interest rate allowed second group of people to grow in pretty big volume between 2002-2005. And I have reason to believe that south bay will be any different from San Francisco.

  20. rick Says:

    I think burbed’s data just prove that outside of CA there are a lot of insane people out there.

    The question we should be asking is, why people in CT is not buying multi-million 50 year-old small homes? As it has been proven, that $150k medium family income can support $1m+ medium housing because the only people buying are those making $250k. Is it because they have an oversupply of McMansions? Or they don’t have enough 50 year old shacks? (That should increase the price of those vintage homes)

    I think they are just not as smart as the CA people.

  21. rick Says:

    Micky, you are so doomed. Chicago is full of stupid people. Just look at the facts:

    Population density of Chicago: 12470/sq miles
    Population denstiy of San Francisco: 6712/sq miles

    In Chicago you pack people into apartments so that you don’t have a land shortage, in SF we pack people into one to two story home and we would rather run out of land than consider dense housing.

    The difference is pretty clear, the smartness of population is dependent on density, as educators will tell you, keeping a small class size raise the quality of education. And it is also apparent when you compare the intelligence between those mouse who may never enjoy the sun versus those squarrels who may be loved by the house owner so much that she would require the new owner to feed under sales contract.

    You are one jealous rat.

  22. nomadic Says:

    Pralay, lower cost is a relative term. Alum Rock is lower cost than Santa Clara, which is lower cost than Sunnyvale, which is lower cost than Los Altos, etc. The lower cost of homes overall, the higher rate of foreclosures you see. So far the data backs that up. That isn’t to say that more expensive areas won’t have foreclosures as well. I’ve already seen a handful in Saratoga, Monte Sereno, etc.

  23. Trader Joe Says:

    Moved to Chicago Burbs (Naperville) from the Not the Real Bay Area (Danville). The weather is not so nice, and the views are not so nice, but we’ve got top quality schools, fantastic parks, a very nice backyard on a 1/4 acre lot, and 3000 sq. ft of space to hold our stuff. I miss California, but I’ll wait for it to stop burning for a year or two before I’d even consider moving back.

    BTW, which are the four Bay Area communities included in the Top 25? I only counted three, but I don’t know the South Bay that well.

    Love the site.

  24. bob Says:

    Regarding the DQ numbers, Well a report came out today that SV and the Peninsula saw a jump in unemployment. It was also reported that most larger area corporations have started downsizing their workforce. Put two and two together: people who don’t have jobs don’t buy homes.

    Additionally, at the peak of the boom in and around 2005, almost 70% of all home loans made in the BA-including all those “RBA” areas- were made using exotic loan products. As we’ve already pointed out tirelessly, these loans all reset now and throughout the next couple of years. Add this to the DQ number equation.

    Lastly, the cost of housing in places like the East Bay, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, etc etc is dipping to levels that has started to become something those in places like SF and the Peninsula can’t ignore. This weekend I met not one, but two couples who were visiting the East Bay from SF to look at homes. I told them that they were a bit early to the party, but nevertheless, I think this is indicative of what tends to happen in RE downturns: The outer edges begin to cool,working its way inward until the heated core also cools-the core in this case being areas like PA and so forth, which only now have started to catch up with the overall BA. The prices will fall further from here.

    And Micky, Can’t say I blame you for moving. Personally, I can’t stand frigid weather, but I have numerous friends in Chicago and they love the hell out of it.Me and my Wife are here long enough to save for a house elsewhere then we’re also out, along with the majority of my friends who’ve made the same decision. But at the rate that prices have been falling around here… who knows? I might have to pick up one of those steals in a few years when the dust settles.

  25. Hmmmmm Says:

    Once again Sf is not so special. DC Metro also has 4 in the top 25.

    Bethesda, Potomac
    McLEan, Dranesville (Great Falls)

    Not so many 50 year old shacks in those areas however.

  26. calla Says:

    I learned something today: low population density is a measure of intelligence. Wyoming rules! I mean roolz!

    Ah well, I must be dumber than Californianz who thinkz that singular present tense verbz endz in Zz. We live in a higher density area, use 100 gallons of gas, tops, each year–that supports two incomes, two homes (one for work, one for play), and a small business. Gas could go to $40 a gallon and we’d still be paying less each year than six months in RBA in ’99. Zero other fossil energy use.

    But that’s just dumb. Living in a high density, well designed, world-class city like Chitown, or a smaller dense area like here, just can’t compete with sitting at the Spaghetti Grinder for two hours, waiting for mattress-heaped IKEA traffic to merge with the bridge traffic to merge with the highway traffic to merge with the traffic traffic, while avoiding the falling decking and the exploding gas trucks. It surely can’t compete with the privilege of inhaling all those nice microbes on BART and Muni while hoping nobody will set you or the poor overworked driver on fire. Or having to close the windows for days or weeks every time Hercules or the mountains catch fire or an inversion settles over the RBA and the sky turns calfshitz brown.

    Truly I inhabit a terrible hell, outside the RBA.

    For some reason, this comes to mind:


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