There’s no defining wealth.
Americans believe it takes an average of $2.3 million to be wealthy, according to Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey, but that number fluctuates depending on several factors, like age and city. The survey sampled 1,000 American respondents aged 21 to 75, with 500 to 700 respondents each across 12 locations.
In San Francisco, that definition of wealth nearly doubles — residents in the Bay Area believe it takes an average of $4 million to be wealthy, Suzanne Woolley of Bloomberg reported, citing the survey. That number varies even further when broken down by generation — baby boomers living in the area think it takes $5.1 million to be wealthy, reported Woolley, while millennials think it takes $3.6 million.
These findings aren’t surprising: the median-priced home in San Francisco was selling for $1.6 million, Melia Robinson reported in 2018. Only 12% of San Francisco households can afford homes in the area, according to Robinson. Even the majority of tech workers — 60%— can’t afford homes there, and that’s on a six-figure salary; the average tech worker in the Bay Area earns $142,000 a year, according to a report by tech talent marketplace Hired.
This extreme housing market has left some people sleeping in cars or living in boats and vans. One tech worker even lived in his startup’s office for a year because he couldn’t afford rent. It’s so dire that nearly half of San Francisco residents said in a 2018 Bay Area Council advocacy group survey that they plan to soon move away, Business Insider reported.
And the housing market could get even more expensive soon, thanks to a potential rise in its millionaire population if several tech startups go public as expected this year, Nellie Bowles of The New York Times reported.
But San Francisco isn’t the only city where residents think it takes a significant number to be wealthy. New York City residents think it takes $3.2 million, and Washington DC residents think it takes $3 million.