In the mid-20th century many of the richest Americans high-tailed it out of cities and into sprawling suburbs where they could have huge homes and a bit of insulation from rising urban crime.
But these days, some of the country’s biggest movers and shakers choose to live right in the heart of the metropolis. And for good reason – being in the city, as opposed to the burbs, gives you a shorter work commute and easy access to the best shopping, dining and culture money can buy.
Here, we take a look at a few of the wealthiest and most interesting urban enclaves in the country’s biggest cities and explore a little about what makes them so special.
New York – Tribeca
- Average Household Income: $173,178
- Average Monthly Rent: $5,165
- Average Home List Price: $4,250,000
This famed, lower Manhattan neighborhood got its name from its shape and location below Canal Street – Triangle Below Canal = Tribeca. Like many now fashionable urban areas, Tribeca has its roots as an industrial corridor turned hip artist mecca turned high-end residential zone. These days it’s one of the most fashionable city neighborhoods in the world, which is quite well reflected in the fact that it’s also home to many NYC-dwelling celebrities.
But it’s not just hip – it’s also truly a great place to live. Tribeca claims the status as the city’s safest neighborhood and boasts wonderful schools, excellent public transportation access and impeccably rehabbed historic buildings.
San Francisco – Pacific Heights
- Average Household Income: $129,248
- Average Monthly Rent: $3,992
- Average Home List Price: $1,595,000
San Fran has the reputation of being one of the country’s most expensive cities to live, and it’s easy to see why. Besides being the center of a new tech boom, it offers residents gorgeous Pacific views, moderate weather and diverse cultural attractions. Pacific Heights residents enjoy some of the most scenic views in all of the city and they’re willing to pay for them.
Unlike the many apartment buildings in urban hotspots like Tribeca, this San Francisco neighborhood is characterized by homes in the Victorian, Chateau and Mission Revival style. The area is also home to beautiful parks with panoramic views of the city and bay, high-end shopping, and neighbors like Nicholas Cage and Danielle Steel.
Chicago – The Gold Coast
- Average Household Income: $137,839
- Average Monthly Rent: $3,319
- Average Home List Price: $2,024,940
The Windy City’s historic lakeside neighborhood was built by the wealthiest Chicago families in the late 1800s and mostly stays true to its roots even today. After the Great Chicago Fire wiped out huge swaths of the city in 1871, men like millionaire Potter Palmer set to establishing a new enclave for the city’s high society set.
Today, the aptly-named Gold Coast still enjoys a prime location between The Loop and Lake Michigan. And it still contains some of the most historic and beautiful residential structures in the city, which are a mix of high rises, row houses and mansions. Given the fact that the whole neighborhood is on the National Registry of Historic Places and the plethora of high-end shopping and dining in the area, there’s no reason to think that Gold Coast properties will decrease in value any time soon.
Georgetown – Washington D.C.
- Average Household Income: $127,197
- Average Monthly Rent: $3,350
- Average Home List Price: $1,195,000
For the most powerful and well-to-do residents of our nation’s capital, Georgetown is a highly desirable address. Georgetown residents pay a premium for its position along the Potomac and for the knowledge that historic neighbors include Thomas Jefferson and JFK. Because this now urban neighborhood was once, in fact, its own city that predated D.C. itself, there’s still a decidedly colonial vibe that draws history buffs.
Not only is it closer to downtown D.C. than many of the city’s other popular residential areas, but it’s perfectly restored row houses and cobblestone streets make it feel like a charming throwback to times gone by. These days, though, the area is most renowned for its staggering selection of boutiques, bars and restaurants that draw admirers from all over the city.
Back Bay – Boston
- Average Household Income: $134,605
- Average Monthly Rent: $2,700
- Average Home List Price: $1,250,000
Bean Town’s Back Bay is not expensive for no reason; it’s a beautifully well-preserved 1800’s neighborhood whose planning was inspired by the mid-19th century renovation of Paris. While much of the rest of old Boston is characterized by windy, narrow streets, Back Bay’s streets are wide, lined with trees and laid out in a neat grid.
The picturesque streets are full of 3 and 4 story Victorian brownstones that surely incite envy in residents visiting from other neighborhoods. Many of these historic residences have been divided up into apartments, but for the truly high rollers, there are a few that remain intact and can be purchased as single-family homes.
For those who purposely seek out the crème de la crème when it comes to neighborhoods, these are excellent choices. The best part is, unlike many wealthy suburban outposts that spring up overnight, these urban pockets offer residents a storied past and wonderfully unique character.
In the right city spot, a high rent or mortgage gets you more than nice digs – it comes with a little piece of history as well.
Author Bio: Noah Tennant is a real estate writer and the Owner of Chicago Apartment Leasing Group, a company that helps renters find the bestthe city has to offer. Noah is dedicated to providing both his clients and readers become more savvy renters. For more, and follow him on