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Here’s What It Takes to Be ‘Wealthy’ in San Francisco

2 minute read

A person isn’t considered “wealthy” in the San Francisco Bay area until their net worth has topped $6 million. That’s according to a new survey from San Francisco-based investment firm Charles Schwab. A net worth of $1 million makes someone “financially comfortable,” the survey says.

None of this is based on any official definitions of wealth, but rather perceptions of people themselves in the Bay Area—a place where a startup CEO can occasionally be overhead saying that an income of $250,000 makes one “poor.” The survey asked 1,000 residents ages 21 to 75, from San Francisco and surrounding areas, for their opinions. It’s worth noting that 86% of them also said that the costs of living here—which include but are not limited to $400 for renting a box in someone else’s apartment—are “unreasonable.”

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The survey reflects how expensive things have become in San Francisco amid the latest tech boom, with office space going for about $100 per square foot and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment having the dubious honor of being the highest in the nation at $3,590, according to rental site Zumper.

But it also shows how far the local mindset—surrounded by $8 drip coffees and endless tales of the latest startup that just got millions in venture capital funding—is removed from the rest of the nation. In the survey, Bay Area residents said that being worth $2.5 million in most parts of the United States would make someone “wealthy.” When Gallup asked the same question a few years ago, Americans outside the bubble said they’d consider themselves “rich” with an annual income of $150,000. And 30% said less than $100,000 would still be enough.

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