A survey defines exactly what the threshold for “wealthy” is


Achieving “wealth” is not an unusual goal. Unfortunately, doing so is a game in which the goalposts keep moving – at least, according to an influential survey.

According to Charles Schwab’s recently released Annual Survey of Modern Wealth, the threshold of the “rich” in America has risen 15% in the past year. In some major metropolitan areas, the threshold has even moved higher.

Big city blues

Americans say they need an average net worth of $774,000 to live a “financially comfortable” life, according to the report, which surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 21 and 75 earlier this year. And to be considered rich, Americans now say you need a net worth of $2.2 million, up from $1.9 million last year and $1.4 million in 2018 (which, adjusted for inflation, would only be $1.6 million today).

For those who live in big, bustling cities, the pinnacle of wealth is an even taller mountain to climb:

  • In San Francisco, the wealth threshold is now $5.1 million, up 34% year over year. Next is Southern California (which includes Los Angeles and San Diego) at $3.9 million, then New York at $3.4 million.
  • Of the twelve major metropolitan areas surveyed, Denver reported the lowest net worth needed to be wealthy: just $2.3 million. Maybe it’s time to buy some ski gear.

Share is benevolent: When asked what personal values ​​influence wealth management decision-making, 21% of respondents said “putting others first” – a nebulous category that includes making the best decision for their family and environmental values. Only 3% of respondents said their priority was “avoiding risk”. This could explain the memestock, crypto and legalized gambling booms.

Rent Relief: While almost every major city has seen skyrocketing rents this year, prices in SF remain 10% lower than March 2020, the largest reduction in 100 metro areas according to data from the search website of Apartment List houses. A massive exodus of tech workers is partly to blame — so expect the wealth threshold to rise soon in Austin, Miami, Salt Lake City, and wherever techies end up next.


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