Sagaponack, N.Y., is No. 1

Doug Kuntz/Bloomberg News

Sagaponack, N.Y., is No. 1

Is it any surprise that the most expensive small towns in the U.S. are concentrated around New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Palm Beach? These are, after all, some of the most concentrated pockets of wealth in the world, homes to billionaires and movie stars. But which of these privileged enclaves are the priciest? Bloomberg BusinessWeek worked with Zillow.com to determine where populations are small (less than 10,000 people) but real estate prices high. Towns in only seven states—New York, California, Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii and Maryland—made it into the top 50. Nearly half the winners are concentrated on Long Island, home to many of the finest beaches and golf courses in the country. Although overall home values declined in 2009 due to the recession, Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, says there has been some stabilization in the past few months. Some places, such as Jupiter Island, Fla., saw significant increases in home values.

The results showed a wide range in median household income, from as little as $34,375 in Hanalei, Hawaii, to more than $200,000 in many other towns. According to Humphries, this is because many nonsalary assets, such as stocks, cars, and ownership in companies and other properties, are not included in Census data.

Across the states, expensive towns generally shared access to both urban centers and outdoor areas, such as beaches, parks, and mountains, and emphasized preserving the residential character of the area. What is most revealing is that with few exceptions, the most expensive small towns are clustered along the coastline. If you’re looking for lower prices, move inland.

Read on to see the Most Expensive Small Towns in America.