If people don’t recognize California names such as Woodside and Saratoga, they probably remember Malibu, the classic California beach town. Malibu is outside of Los Angeles, providing access to Hollywood and some of the best beaches in the world. You have to have a Hollywood-size salary to afford living in Malibu, with the average resident paying just over $305,000 per year in annual expenses (via Go Banking Rates). That includes $9,321 in transportation expenses, much of that cost probably from commuting into Los Angeles. The average home value in Malibu, as of January 2021, came in at over $3.85 million, meaning that people who want to buy a home there should be prepared to give a down payment of $771,023 (via Go Banking Rates).
Montecito is a beach town in Santa Barbara County. It’s a celebrity enclave where celebrities gather and can interact with each other and avoid the stressors of big city living. The city certainly has a celebrity-size cost of living, too. Residents of Montecito fork out an average of $306,418 in living expenses each year, and no wonder: they can afford the exorbitant homes worth an average of nearly $3.8 million (via Go Banking Rates). What do these numbers mean? Every single month, residents spend $25,535 to cover personal expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
This name means Mount Serene and it certainly fits the title. It’s surrounded by beaches on one side and mountains on the other. Monte Sereno has a population of only about 3300, making it about the size of a city block in terms of how many people live there. The cost of living is also the size of a city block, with residents shelling out $316,567 each year in their own expenses (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home is nearly $3.4 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Los Altos is another small-town hideout for the mega-rich of Silicon Valley. Residents spend just over $317,000, on average, each year to cover their own expenses, coming out to $26,417 per month (via Go Banking Rates). They also pay $7778 per year on transportation, much of that probably commuting in and out of San Francisco. The average value of a home in Los Altos is nearly $3.5 million (via Realtor). And as with other towns in Silicon Valley, these homes are not your New York City shoebox apartments. People in Los Altos live in mega-mansions that could easily house the population of a small town.
Hunts Point is a town in Washington’s Silicon Valley, the Seattle Metropolitan Area. Indeed, plenty of people prefer to live in the heart of Seattle. They can enjoy everything that this Pacific Northwest city has to offer. However, many of the top earners at companies like Microsoft and Amazon would rather live in quieter settings such as Hunts Point. Here, residents pay an average of $317,512 in their annual living expenses, coming out to about $26,500 per month (via Go Banking Rates). Homes have an average value of $6.26 million. A 20% down payment would be $1.25 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Hidden Hills is a town in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area with a population of about 1800 that includes many celebrities. The annual cost of living in Hidden Hills is about $323,816 per person (via Go Banking Rates). What does that mean for a family of four? You’re easily looking at yearly expenses near $1.5 million before the cost of childcare. The average value of a home in Hidden Hills is over $3.8 million, meaning that a 20% down payment would cost about $765,000 (via Go Banking Rates).
Amagansett is a census-designated place on New York’s Long Island and is a perfect retreat for those who can afford big-city living but prefer a quieter life instead. Whereas residents of Amagansett could be shelling out millions for a shoebox apartment in Manhattan, they choose to live in a more rural setting where the average home value is over $3 million and the homes are much more spacious (via Go Banking Rates). Annual expenditures come out to nearly $325,000 per person, and you can imagine that that amount probably includes a fair number of Broadway shows and shopping trips down Fifth Avenue (via Go Banking Rates). Residents also have easy access to the beach community of Montauk.
Rolling Hills was developed by the same planner who created the nearby town of Hidden Hills, both parts of the Los Angeles Metro Area (via Hidden Hills). This equestrian town has no traffic lights, and the houses are all one-story ranch homes or haciendas. While you may believe the idea of living in such a tightly regulated small town is passe, people pay heavy dollars to live in Rolling Hills. The average value of those ranches and/or hacienda homes is over $3.4 million and residents pay just under $329,000 in annual living expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
Water Mill is a census-designated place on Long Island, making it a small town with beach access and just a short train ride from New York City. The city is also incredibly historic and boasts the first water mill in New York, dating back to the year 1644 (via Water Mill Museum). Life in this landmark town costs an average of $333,713 per year per person, coming out to $27,809 per person. The average value of a home, as of January 2021, is nearly $3.3 million, making this town affordable only to high earners in Manhattan and celebrities who want a second home (via Go Banking Rates).
Nothing says high life quite like Beverly Hills, the legendary abode of movie stars. People who live in Beverly Hills pay far more than those in the rest of Los Angeles to cover their annual living expenses, $344,303 per year (via Go Banking Rates). If you can’t afford nearly $30,000 per month, not including the money you would put into savings, don’t even think of trying to move to Beverly Hills. The average value on this unique piece of real estate is upwards of $5.32 million (via Zillow). This means that a 20% down payment would be over one million.
Belvedere is a unique town in the small townscape of Silicon Valley (via CN Traveler). This census-designated place is based on two islands separated by a lagoon, making Belvedere the choice for Silicon Valley top earners who want to be part of the prestigious yacht club. Belvedere was home to Vivian Vance, the actress who played Ethel on I Love Lucy until she died, and it has also been home to many other celebrities and Silicon Valley techs. Life in Belvedere costs an average of $345,879 per person per year, and the average value of a home is an eye-popping $4.256 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Stinson Beach is a favorite for some high-earning Silicon Valley leaders (via NPS). People who live in this idyllic enclave shell out an average of $356,279 per year to cover their personal living expenses; that amount comes out to nearly $30,000 per month. Homes in Stinson Beach have an average value that is just shy of $4 million, meaning that to own a piece of paradise in this exclusive area, you can expect to put down a 20% payment of $785,230 (via Go Banking Rates).
Wainscott is a census-designated place on Long Island that is steeped in history. The Wainscott School was the last one-room schoolhouse to operate in the United States (via Wikipedia). It lasted from 1730 until 2008, when an annex was built, and the school was no longer one room. Owning a part of this dramatic piece of American history comes at a steep price, with the average home value a whopping $2.56 million in January 2021 (via Go Banking Rates). Residents of Wainscott pay an average of $384,394 in annual living expenses, making this small CDP on Long Island one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country.
Portola Valley might be considered the spoiled little sister of Palo Alto. Palo Alto has served as the incubator of many tech geniuses and the companies they have built, and it has one of the highest costs of living in the country (via Best Places). Portola Valley has an even higher cost of living despite not having the accomplishments of Palo Alto. In this small census-designated place, the average value is $4.1 million, and residents pay an average of $393,471 to cover their annual living expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
Hillsborough is another super high-end small town in Silicon Valley full of mega-mansions for wealthy tech executives who have shaped so much of the world in which we live. It also has many historical landmarks, making it a great place to visit for those who are visiting San Francisco. People who live in Hillsborough pay an average of $410,112 to cover their annual living expenses, an amount that comes out to $34,176 per month (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in Hillsborough is nearly $4.6 million, making a decent down payment about a million dollars (via Zillow).
There’s Los Altos, and then there’s Los Altos Hills, and the “Hills” ending should indicate that this small town is an even more affluent area than Los Altos (via Wikipedia). The city has expansive lots that house mega-mansions and all the toys that billionaires desire. People who live in Los Altos Hills pay an average of $421,017 each year to cover their living expenses, meaning that they are shelling out $35,085 every single month (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in Los Altos Hills, as of January 2021, came out to nearly $4.7 million.
Jupiter Island has the largest per-capita income of any other place in the entire country. This island off the coast of Florida is home to some of the country’s largest, and most expensive homes, worth an average of $5.24 million as of January 2021 (via Go Banking Rates). Residents of Jupiter Island pay an average of $477,750 per year to cover their own living expenses, meaning that they are forking out nearly $40,000 every single month.
The most affluent, most exclusive, and most expensive place to live in the entire country has long been the small town of Atherton, California (via Wikipedia). Annual expenditures for someone who lives in Atherton are a whopping $575,834 per person per year, and the average value of a home is nearly $6.6 million (via Go Banking Rates). No other place on this list comes close to the cost of living in Atherton. To afford to live in this palatial residential area, you have to be an executive-level earner at a Silicon Valley company. How much does that person need to make? Bet on an income that would allow you to spend nearly $50,000 per month.