Best Cities for Building Wealth
- March 15, 2017
- Posted by: Mike Brown
- Category: Study
Many young careers are focused around this central question: What must I do to begin adding zeroes to my bank account? Getting a high-paying job and investing in the stock market are two wealth-building actions that come to mind, but there are also other things to consider.
LendEDU has created the “Best Cities for Building Wealth” list to assist all of the ambitious Americans looking to amass their own personal fortune.
In our rankings, we looked at various factors that would affect a person’s ability to build wealth. LendEDU’s list was not so much focused on what you can do to line your pockets, but rather how much your place of residence will contribute to your monetary prosperity. The parameters that we evaluated included median earnings from income, median home value, average monthly cost of home, and property tax rates. Each parameter for each city was assigned a weighted score on a 100 point scale based on the percentile it fell into. Once each city had a score for each parameter, a total score was found on a 100 point scale (100 being the best).
What does it mean to “build wealth?” The purpose of our list is to recognize the American cities that are most conducive to both saving and making money. For example, a city where homes are more valuable would indicate an opportunity for a potential home-buyer to make a profitable investment. Additionally, a city where property taxes are low would give a person the chance to save money.
LendEDU’s list does not interpret building wealth as becoming the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Our concept of building wealth is the ability to do things like buying a second home, paying for your child’s education, or retiring comfortably.
We hope that you enjoy LendEDU’s “Best Cities for Building Wealth” list.
Top 10 Cities for Building Wealth
1. Seal Beach, California
Total Score: 72.65
Seal Beach, California has earned the number one spot on our list. Seal Beach is home to the second largest wooden pier in California, where residents can enjoy activities like fishing and taking in the views of the Pacific Ocean. This Orange County suburb is home to major employers such as Boeing, Siemens Medical Solutions, and Target.
- Median Earnings from Income: $46,845
- Median Home Value: $299,900
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,260
- Property Tax Rate: .81%
2. Forest Hills, New York
Total Score: 71.12
Forest Hills, New York comes in at number two. This Queens neighborhood is known for its beautiful architecture. Bordering Flushing-Meadows Corona Park and Forest Park, Forest Hills offers its residents hundreds of green acres to enjoy. Additionally, Forest Hills is famous for hosting the U.S. Open tennis tournament until 1978.
- Median Earnings from Income: $55,063
- Median Home Value: $368,300
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,451
- Property Tax Rate: 1.62%
3. Prairieville, Louisiana
Total Score: 70.66
Prairieville, Louisiana, a Baton Rouge bedroom community, rounds out LendEDU's top three. Known for its excellent public schools and low crime rate, Prairieville is one of the fastest growing areas in Louisiana.
- Median Earnings from Income: $46,577
- Median Home Value: $203,500
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,226
- Property Tax Rate: .49%
4. Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland
Total Score: 69.92
Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland has made the list at number four. Part of Baltimore County, Lutherville-Timonium is known for the Lutherville Historic District, as well as holding the Maryland State Fair every Labor Day.
- Median Earnings from Income: $50,971
- Median Home Value: $362,200
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,533
- Property Tax Rate: 1.10%
5. Madison, Alabama
Total Score: 69.10
Madison, Alabama completes the top five for LendEDU's list. Located right outside the city of Huntsville, Madison has seen rapid growth since the late 20th century. The biggest employer in Madison is Intergraph, a software company.
- Median Earnings from Income: $44,749
- Median Home Value: $207,840
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,283
- Property Tax Rate: .43%
6. Louisville, Colorado
Total Score: 69.01
Louisville, Colorado has earned the sixth spot on LendEDU's "Best Cities for Building Wealth" list. This Boulder County town was a mining community for many years. Louisville is constantly mentioned as one of the best places to live.
- Median Earnings from Income: $48,865
- Median Home Value: $374,700
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,779
- Property Tax Rate: .60%
7. Brentwood, Tennessee
Total Score: 68.90
Brentwood, Tennessee comes in at number seven on our list. Part of both Williamson County and Davidson County, Brentwood is known for its beautiful rolling hills. Brentwood is consistently named as one of the wealthiest cities in America.
- Median Earnings from Income: $52,658
- Median Home Value: $444,100
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,948
- Property Tax Rate: .75%
8. Sunnyvale, California
Total Score: 68.57
Sunnyvale, California has earned the number eight spot in our rankings. This Santa Clara County community is one of the major cities comprising Silicon Valley. Major employers in Sunnyvale include Juniper Networks, NetApp, and Yahoo!
- Median Earnings from Income: $64,640
- Median Home Value: $666,131
- Monthly Cost of Home: $2,319
- Property Tax Rate: .81%
9. Madison, Mississippi
Total Score: 68.47
Madison, Mississippi comes in at number nine on our list of the "Best Cities for Building Wealth." A suburb of Jackson, Mississippi, Madison currently has the highest average income in the entire state. Recently, Madison was also rated as the second most livable city in Mississippi.
- Median Earnings from Income: $47,855
- Median Home Value: $240,100
- Monthly Cost of Home: $1,423
- Property Tax Rate: .79%
10. Walnut Creek, California
Total Score: 68.35
Walnut Creek, California completes the top 10 for LendEDU's list. Walnut Creek has exploded in popularity because of its close proximity to the major cities of Oakland and San Francisco. Its lively downtown features a number of quality retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
- Median Earnings from Income: $57,599
- Median Home Value: $649,106
- Monthly Cost of Home: $2,257
- Property Tax Rate: .81%
Full Rankings: Top Cities for Building Wealth
To compile the rankings for the “Best Cities for Building Wealth” list, LendEDU evaluated data for over 3,000 American cities with a population over 20,000. Our rankings were based on four parameters: (1) Median Earnings from Income; (2) Monthly Cost of Home; (3) Median Home Value; (4) Property Tax Rate.
Each parameter for each city was judged on a 100 point scale (100 being the best, 1 being the worst). To come up with a number score for each parameter for each city, the necessary data for over 3,000 cities was recorded on a master spreadsheet. Each city was given a percentile score for each parameter based off of the percentile that city fell into for that metric. Percentile scores were determined based on all available data and multiplied by 100 to give a number score.
Once each parameter for each city was assigned a number score, we were able to calculate a total score. The total score was found by multiplying each parameter’s number score by that parameters assigned weight. Once that happened, we were able to add all four weighted scores together to find a total score on a 100 point scale (100 being the best). The first parameter, Median Earnings from Income, was weighted at 40%, or 40 of the 100 points. The second parameter, Monthly Cost of Home, was weighted at 30%, or 30 of the 100 points. The third parameter, Median Home Value, was weighted at 22.5%, or 22.5 of the 100 points. The fourth parameter, Property Tax Rate, was weighted at 7.5%, or 7.5 of the 100 points.
Here is a more detailed description of each parameter:
Median Earnings from Income: This was considered our most important parameter and was weighted accordingly at 40%. Median earnings from income was a number pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau and reflected the average resident’s salary after taxes. This statistic was deemed important to building wealth because it gauges what the average person can expect to earn in a single year. It also reflects a city’s access to high paying jobs. We decided to look at earnings after taxes because it more accurately depicts what you can expect to bring home after city and state taxes.
Monthly Cost of Home: This was our second most important parameter and was weighted at 30%. We used data from the U.S. Census Bureau including number of homes with a mortgage, average monthly cost of a home including a mortgage, number of homes without a mortgage, and average monthly cost of a home without a mortgage. We then multiplied the number of homes with a mortgage by the average monthly cost of a home with a mortgage as well as the number of homes without a mortgage by the average monthly cost of a home without a mortgage. We then added these sums together and divided by the total number of homes to give an average monthly cost of owning a home. We looked at monthly cost of home to account for what portion of residents' income is going towards their homes.
Median Home Value: This parameter was deemed our third most important indicator and was weighted at 22.5%. Median home value was a statistic pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau and depicted the average cost of purchasing a home in that city. This number was considered important because purchasing a home can become a great investment for someone looking to amass wealth. While buying an expensive home could hurt one’s financials in the short term, the long term resale value of an expensive home can be extremely profitable. Pricier homes were given better scores because of their potential to bring in a huge fortune if the owner decided to sell.
Property Tax Rate: This was considered our least important of the four parameters and was weighted accordingly at 7.5%. The average property tax rate by state was a number gathered from Taxfoundation.org. The lower the property tax rate meant a better score for the respective city. Having a lower property tax can help residents save money and build up their wealth in the long term.