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Where do upper middle class live?

The upper middle class refers to households that have incomes placing them in the top 15-20% of the population. This group earns significantly more than the middle class but less than the top 1-2% considered upper class. Where upper middle class families choose to live depends on factors like income, lifestyle preferences, demographics, and more. Generally, they tend to live in suburban areas near major cities that offer good schools, amenities, safety, and reasonable commuting distance to professional jobs.

What is considered upper middle class income?

Upper middle class households typically earn between $100,000 to $350,000 or more per year. This income bracket allows for a comfortable lifestyle with financial security and disposable income, but still requires budgeting to afford luxury goods, private schools, extensive travel and leisure activities. The threshold for upper middle class varies by region, as cost of living differs widely. In high cost metro areas like San Francisco or New York City, $200,000 may qualify as upper middle income while a $100,000 salary could provide an upper middle lifestyle in parts of the Midwest or South.

Where do the upper middle class live?

The upper middle class is distributed across the United States but clustered around major metro areas that offer high-paying professional jobs. Some patterns emerge in where these affluent families choose to live within a region.


The vast majority of upper middle class families live in the suburban areas surrounding major cities. Suburbs provide access to urban jobs, dining and amenities with more affordable housing, top-ranked schools, and perceived safety over city living. Popular upper middle class suburbs include:

  • Silicon Valley suburbs of San Francisco like Palo Alto, Cupertino
  • Suburbs of New York City like Greenwich, CT and Scarsdale, NY
  • Suburbs of Chicago like Naperville, IL and Oak Brook, IL
  • Suburbs of Seattle like Bellevue, WA and Kirkland, WA
  • Suburbs of Los Angeles like Calabasas, CA and Manhattan Beach, CA

These communities typically have median home prices from $750,000 to over $2 million, averaging around $1 million. Excellent public schools, amenities like pools and tennis courts, low crime rates and properties with large lots appeal to upper middle class families. Proximity to major highways and public transit allows commuting to city jobs.


Exurban areas refer to communities farther removed from the urban core, at the edges of the metropolitan region. Upper middle class families seeking more land and even better public schools may choose exurbs and are willing to commute longer distances. Popular exurbs for the upper middle class include:

  • Areas around Austin, TX like Lakeway and Dripping Springs
  • Northern Virginia communities like Great Falls and Oakton
  • Towns west of Boston like Sudbury and Concord
  • Exurbs of Dallas-Fort Worth like Southlake and Flower Mound

Typical home prices range from $600,000 to over $1 million. Large properties, a country-like setting, luxury amenities and a sense of exclusivity draw upper middle class buyers to these areas.

Urban Cores

While less common, some upper middle class households live directly within major city centers. Urban professionals may choose cities for the excitement, culture, restaurants, status and avoiding long commutes. Affluent urban addresses include:

  • Manhattan neighborhoods like TriBeCa and the Upper East Side in NYC
  • Ritzy parts of San Francisco like Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights
  • Downtown and North Shore Chicago
  • Uptown Dallas and River Oaks in Houston
  • Brookline and Cambridge within Boston

Condos in luxury high-rise buildings or row houses start from $1 million to $5 million+ in these exclusive areas. Benefits like walking to work, entertainment and amenities offset the higher prices and smaller spaces versus the suburbs.

Factors driving where the upper middle class live

Several key factors shape residential choices among upper middle income households when deciding where to live:

School quality

Access to top-ranked school districts is a top priority, especially for families with children. Thus, upper middle class households often cluster in suburbs known for excellent public schools or pay premiums for homes in the best school zones. Private school attendance is also common.

Professional jobs

Most upper middle income households derive earnings from high-paying professional occupations like finance, tech, law, engineering and medicine. Living reasonably close to major employment hubs is important, even if longer commutes are tolerated to secure ideal schools and housing. Proximity to public transit like trains can offset traffic.

Amenities and lifestyle

From luxury boutique shopping to art museums to great restaurants, upper middle class families want access to amenities suiting their refined tastes. Nearby country clubs, golf courses, trails and natural settings also appeal. A family-friendly lifestyle is important in choosing areas with community events, kid activities and safe neighborhoods.


Exclusivity, status and prestige partially drive upper middle class residential choices. Cities like Manhattan or neighborhoods that convey success like gated golf communities are desirable. Premium brand-name communities attract those who value signaling wealth.


While not always a priority, upper middle class homes are generally over 3,000 square feet with 4-6 bedrooms to accommodate large families, live-in help and entertainment. Large lots, privacy, pools and home offices provide additional space. Apartments are rare.

City Desirable Upper Middle Class Neighborhoods
New York City Upper East Side, TriBeCa, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn Heights
Chicago Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Evanston
Houston River Oaks, Memorial Villages, Sugar Land
Philadelphia Chestnut Hill, Villanova, Haverford
Washington DC Potomac, McLean, Bethesda
Miami Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest
Boston Brookline, Cambridge, Newton
San Francisco Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Hillsborough
Seattle Medina, Mercer Island, Sammamish
Denver Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Lone Tree


The upper middle class is concentrated around major metropolitan areas that offer high-paying professional jobs. Within these regions, they gravitate towards affluent suburban communities with top-ranked schools, amenities, safety and family-oriented lifestyle. Proximity to urban cores provides access to culture and entertainment. As upper middle class households grow in numbers, their residential footprint expands deeper into suburban and exurban areas. But preferences remain rooted in traditional upper middle class values like education, stability, success and status. Choosing where to live represents optimizing these ideals in neighborhoods that signal belonging to this elite socioeconomic group.