MONEY

Top-earning towns

Luxe homes, great schools and exclusive communities. It takes a big paycheck to live large in these 25 posh patches.

  • Newport Beach, CA

    Courtesy: Newport Beach CVB

    As its name suggests, Newport Beach offers heaps of water access with 10 miles of opulent coastline — and the upscale waterfront housing to match. With an average winter high of 64 degrees, residents can enjoy the city’s oceanfront all year long.

    Looking for a lavish gated community? You’ll find one in Newport Beach, as long as you don’t mind a seven-figure price tag. You may even catch a glimpse of a visiting college football team or its traveling alumni, housed in town for the Rose Bowl. Fortune 500 company Pacific Life, as well as investment firm PIMCO, are headquartered here, and well-paid employees enjoy the short commute.

    See complete data and interactive map for Newport Beach

  • Bethesda, MD

    Bethesda Row, Bethesda, MD
    Courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partn

    An easy commute from Washington D.C., Bethesda is a hotspot for the highly educated, with nearly half of its residents boasting a graduate or professional degree. That may explain the incomes — the highest on our list this year. They enable people to afford the luxe homes here, which are more than twice as pricey as the state average.

    Though Washington D.C. is a quick Metro ride away, there’s no need to head to the nation’s capital for culture. Bethesda’s urban downtown offers its own live theater, international cuisine and a variety of events, from monthly art walks to annual juried art competitions.

    See comp<a href="http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/best-places/2012/snapshots/PL2407125.html?iid=gdetail” title=””>lete data and interactive map for Bethesda

  • West Bloomfield, MI

    18
    Montana Pritchard—08.27.2007 Hole No. 18 at Oakland Hills Country Club -West Bloomfield Township, MI

    Once speckled with apple orchards, West Bloomfield is now known for its lakes — 25 in all, covering some 14% of the township. Water views abound, and residents enjoy boating, fishing and swimming in the summertime, with snowshoeing, ice-skating and hockey in the winter months.

    Centrally located Orchard Lake has inspired a community of cream-of-the-crop waterfront homes — and they draw prices to match. For residents who don’t want to send their children to the area’s first-rate public schools, they have access to Brookfield Academy, one of the largest private schools in the state.

    See complete data and interactive map for West Bloomfield

  • Carmel, IN

    Courtesy: Hamilton County CVB

    Life is sweet in Carmel. Among its upmarket amenities, the city counts a $24.5 million water park and mega-fitness center, a 1,600-seat concert hall, a 500-seat theater and even a Japanese-style garden — smack in the middle of the Midwest. The culture and manicured beauty of the area attracts high-paid professionals, many of them executives at the headquarters of Delta Faucet, Pearson Education and CNO Financial Group.

    The city is even a particularly safe (and picturesque) place to drive, thanks to 80 landscaped roundabouts that curb traffic instead of traditional signals — the most of any city in the country.

    See complete data and interactive map for Carmel

  • Wayne, NJ

    Packanack Lake
    Township of Wayne Just 15 miles outside Manhattan, Wayne, N.J. offers a wide range of activities for residents to enjoy. Between the miles of hiking trails at High Mountain Park Preserve to the shopping scene at Willow Brook Shopping Centre, Wayne also maintains a close-knit community feel.

    Where can you find great schools, fun recreational opportunities, a family-oriented community and lakefront property for under $1 million? Wayne, that’s where. Four lakes and several high-end subdivisions provide plenty of luxury home prospects, but prices aren’t nearly as high as they’d be in nearby areas, so why not throw in a heated pool with waterfalls and a koi pond?

    Or you can visit the 15,000-square-foot James Roe Pool, which offers a flume ride, drop slide, and geysers. Residents like it so much that every year the township celebrates Wayne Day, complete with petting zoo, dunk tank and rock climbing walls.

    See complete data and interactive map for Wayne

  • The Woodlands, TX

    DERRICK BRYANT PHOTOGRAPHY

    If you could plan a community, it would look like the Woodlands — which is the whole idea. Some 27 miles north of Houston, designers created a nature-centric suburban ideal, complete with almost 200 miles of hike and bike trails, lavish neighborhoods dotted with playgrounds and parks. A sparkling waterway connects the township’s outdoor amphitheater to much of its downtown office space.

    If you want an estate with a theater, game room, and a sunken wine grotto, you can find it here. The area’s amenities have attracted a variety of employers, from energy company Anadarko to Aon Hewitt.

    See complete data and interactive map for The Woodlands

  • North Hempstead, NY

    Courtesy: City of North Hempstead

    Residents of suburban North Hempstead earn top salaries in the Big Apple and spend their leisure time enjoying life on the Long Island Sound. That means shopping in high-end boutiques, strolling along the town’s waterfront, visiting its botanical gardens and attending the Gold Coast International Film Festival, a weeklong summer celebration of the arts and cinema.

    Naturally, with beachfront property in the mix, housing is pricey. A six-bedroom waterfront property with a guesthouse and heated in-ground pool asks for $12 million.

    See complete data and interactive map for North Hempstead

  • Ellicott City, MD

    (Mutiple Values) Ellicott City

    Ellicott City occupies a sweet spot that enables an easy ride to either Washington D.C. or Baltimore, which means that commuters are fairly split between the two cities. But while residents may earn a hefty political or federal salary in one of the two bustling capitols, they can live here and send their children to one of the top school districts in the state and spend their leisure time exploring the area’s restaurants or historic 18th-century downtown district, complete with ghost tours. A 14,000-acre state park, two golf courses and a slew of antiques shopping keep well-to-do locals busy.

    See complete data and interactive map for Ellicott City

  • Brookline, MA

    Brookline enjoys a reputation as one of the top-notch suburbs of Boston, and its status and proximity encourage housing prices that creep into seven figures—the price its residents pay for exclusivity. Although Brookline is practically surrounded by Boston, it maintains its small-town character, complete with puppet theatre, one of the oldest country clubs in the country, and a working farm that provides locals with fresh-picked arugula and tomatoes.

    It’s also the birthplace of notable notables, from John F. Kennedy to Conan O’Brien, and there’s a neighborhood called “Pill Hill” for all the doctors who settled there in the late 1800s.

    See complete data and interactive map for Brookline

  • Hoboken, NJ

    With waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline and a compact grid packed with outdoor cafes, bars, and shops, Hoboken draws its fair share of upper crust commuters. Many of them take the city’s rail or ferry lines into New York City. But when they’re at home, residents of this Hudson River locale enjoy park space, beaches, and a waterside walkway teeming with people who’ve left their cars behind. Space constraints mean single-family houses are scarce, but historic brownstones and row homes offer plenty of upscale amenities.

    See complete data and interactive map for Hoboken

  • Newton, MA

    Juliana Sohn for TIME Noble and Majestic
    The cane corso is a powerfully built dog. The breed's name comes from the Latin cohors, which means "guardian" and "protector."

    Run the Boston marathon for your own little tour of suburban Newton and its posh and historic housing stock—wealthy residents pay top dollar for homes in one of 13 villages, each with its own cluster of shops, and connected by a network of tree-lined scenic roads and golf courses.

    Newton is also home to four of the marathon’s hills, including the race’s infamous “Heartbreak Hill.” You’ll lope past Boston College, one of three colleges within Newton’s borders and the city’s largest employer. Other amenities you might not notice from the race route: one of the largest libraries in the state, as well as one of the best school districts.

    See complete data and interactive map for Newton

  • Ashburn, VA

    Juliana Sohn for TIME Playful and Inquisitive
    Icelandic sheepdogs are so admired in their native country that they have been portrayed on postage stamps.

    Wealthy Washington Redskins fans should be thrilled to live in Ashburn, since the team’s training camp calls it home. Some of the players even hang their helmets here. Located about 30 miles west of Washington D.C. and half an hour from Virginia wine country, the area is known for its equestrian community and planned neighborhoods on land that used to hold dairy farms.

    Ashburn contains a major Verizon campus, as well as the headquarters for government contractor Telos and the National Crash Analysis Center, so jobs are plentiful, as are the executives who settle here for the schools and suburban feel.

    See complete data and interactive map for Ashburn

  • Lower Merion, PA

    Rockefeller Arch, Lower Merion, PA
    Courtesty of Township of Lower M

    Part of Pennsylvania’s wealthy Main Line corridor that popped up along the rail line of the same name, Lower Merion got its start when railroad executives built massive summer homes here. Today, it’s an elite suburb of Philadelphia and dotted with colleges, including women’s liberal arts school Bryn Mawr, which is also one of the township’s largest employers.

    Residents bring lawn chairs and blankets to twilight concerts at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo all summer long and enjoy their pick of sledding hills in the winter months. The area’s 682 acres of parkland and top-rated schools in the state form a well-rounded nest for well-heeled Pennsylvanians.

    See complete data and interactive map for Lower Merion

  • Greenwich, CT

    CT: Fairfield County,Greenwich
    Kindra Clineff—04 18:29:10 

    Greenwich isn’t just another pretty town on Connecticut’s Long Island Sound, or even the closest to Manhattan. It’s also a magnet for hedge funds and boutique financial service companies. Many of their well-paid executives call it home for the short commute, the excellent school system and access to outdoor attractions, which include beaches, boating and golf. The town also offers its own fully professional symphony orchestra.

    Bring your checkbook and your Swiss bank account. Home prices can run from half a million, all the way up to $33 million for a 15,000-square-foot estate with 15-bedrooms and 17 baths.

    See complete data and interactive map for Greenwich

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