Wealthy Zip Code List Methodology

A Brief Explanation

The constant cry heard throughout the Prospect Research world and, especially, on PRSPCT-L is--  "Are there any lists of wealthy zip codes on the Web?"   Well, not many.  So, in response to this question, the Development Research Office at USC has organized its collected list of TOP 100 wealthy zips (complete with community names) and placed them on NETSource@USCto get the ball rolling!

We would also like to thank Mills College for their work in researching Top Zip Codes of the U.S.A., a list of 300+ zip code numbers.

The goal is to GROW the "Wealthy Zip" list with your help!  For this site to truly be of any benefit, additional wealthy zip codes and community names need to be added and shared with developement researchers from around the country. We hope you will help. 


Methodology FAQ's

1. What is a "Wealthy Zip Code?"

Frankly, there is no universal definition of what constitutes a wealthy zip code and this list does not attempt to suggest one. What may be considered by one person to be a "wealthy zip", may not fit the criteria of another.

However, when discussing such matters, two quantitative elements are usually suggested. They include a determination of;

1. Average Household Income
2. Average Home Property Values

These indicators are comonly found as part of U.S. Census Bureau, consumer marketing or county assessor data that are regularly used to determine certain marketing strategies.

For purposes of this list, we have focused on zip codes and communities whose average household income is $150,000+ or higher and/or whose average home property value exceeds $500,000+. However, these are not hard and fast rules.

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2. What do you mean my state doesn't have any Wealthy Zip Codes?

We're sure that it does....so help us identify them!

In order to start this list, we began with the TOP 100 Zip Codes from the Worth magazine article and certain states just didn't show up. We need your help to identify community names and zip code numbers so that we can build a solid list for each state.

Remember, we are looking for communities with average household incomes of $150,000 and up OR communities/neighborhoods that you know have average property values greater than $500,000.

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2. What's all the fuss about Wealthy Zip Codes?

It is important to consider wealthy zip codes for exactly what they are...one more possible piece in a puzzle to better understand a person's financial capacity to donate to your organization.

Rendering judgment on giving potential should not be made based soley on the zip codes or community names collected here or in any other reference material.

Zip codes can be an effective starting point for segmenting lists of donor names and addresses as a means of helping to prioritize certain fundraising strategies. But remember, we all know that some of our most generous supporters live in communities that will never show up on anyone's TOP 100 Zip Code list!

The classic example is a woman who lived most of her life in a modest ranch-style home in Studio City, CA (not known as a "wealthy" zip code) and ended up shocking the philanthropic world by donating her estate valued at $98 million (nobody had a clue) to the UCLA School of Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Crippled Children's Society and Orthopaedic Hospital in Los Angeles!

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3. How does this Web site define Wealthy Zip Codes?

As a basis for this list, we site the publication of Worth magazine, America's 300 Richest Towns, July/August 1996 pp. 66-72. The survey included geodemographic data bases, US census track information and telephone surveys of real estate offices to amass its list of 300 communities, but alas...they did not provide corresponding zip codes!

Our first task was to identify a zip code that corresponded to the wealthy community name as identfied by Worth. For practical purposes, we began with the TOP 100 richest communities. We used the U.S. Postal Service Zip Code Look Up to locate the zip codes and various real estate sites to check comp values of homes.

Since the demographic usefulness of the zip code for communities ranked below the TOP 100 seemed to diminish as the average income and property values decreased, we stopped there. However, it is entirely possible that among the remaining 200 communities on the Worth magazine list there are several that should be included on this Web site. Please feel free to encourage us to add a zip code or a community name that you feel qualifies.

We then organized the communities on a state-by-state basis for ease of use. We further began collecting links to national and regional real estate companies and newspaper web sites who have begun providing comparable market value prices ("comps") to homes in a given zip code or community. When used in conjunction with a wealthy zip code, we found that we could narrow in on a possible home value for the price of a visit to the World Wide Web.
 

Rank Zip Code Community Name Ave. Household Income Ave. Home Value
1 90274 Rolling Hills, CA $305,700 $587,900
50 11030 Munsey Park, NY $117,600 $537,700
100 11559 Lawrence, NY $146,800 $486,700
300 07045 Montville, NJ $119,200 $311,100

*Excerpted from Worth, America's 300 Richest Towns, July/August 1996, pages 66-72.

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4. What's the difference between a Wealthy "Community" and a Wealthy "Zip Code"?

The perfect example:

Rolling Hills, CA, the richest town in America according to Worth's 1996 analysis, doesn't have it's own unique zip code. It is officially a part of the Palos Verdes Penninsula--CA zip code 90274.

Here's another:

Bel Air, CA   has no unique zip code either. You'll find it tucked away in Los Angeles 90077

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5. How can I nominate a Zip Code or Community to the list?

Remember, we are looking for Zip Codes with average household incomes of $150,000 and up OR communities/neighborhood names that you know have average property values greater than $500,000.

If you think you've found a wealthy zip code or wealthy neighborhood then......

Add a Wealthy Zip Here
 

Thank You!

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