06 December 2013

The "stealth wealth" of the Washington D.C. area

From the Washington Post, a story about the new owners of the former Robert F. Kennedy residence in northern Virginia:
Once a town whose bright stars were government leaders, the nation’s capital has become a moneyed metropolis where entrepreneurs whose wealth is often amassed by doing business with the government are the new elite...

Over the past 30 years, an influx of deep-pocketed CEOs, executives and company founders have helped drive the transformation of the area from a buttoned-down capital into the most highly educated and affluent place in the country...

In recent years, the Washington area has seen a dramatic rise in “1-percenters,” households that make about $400,000 or more. Their ranks have jumped 65 percent in the past decade, from 32,000 people to 53,000. That growth has spawned a plethora of high-end retail establishments, restaurants that serve $22 cocktails and $110-a-night pet spas with doggie lap pools...

Many of these newly rich are tight-lipped about their money and unlikely to make an ostentatious display of it, Wolford said. This is particularly true within the defense contracting industry, which boomed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


  1. I am sorry, but this is a bunch of nonsense. The Washington DC area remains one of the most racially=income segregated areas in the US. The most white people you see, the richer the area. In very short, DC and PG County are where the poor(er) African-Americans live. MoCo, NW DC and NoVA is where all the right people live.

    The extremely rich live in Georgetown, along Georgetown Pike, old Town Alexandria and west of US-15 in Loudoun. The very rich live in the ugly, ugly McMansions in Loudoun east of US-15, PW County and outer Fairfax, MoCo. The young up and coming rich live in Bethesda, Arlington, inner Fairfax, and Alexandria and the rejuvinated parts of NW DC; in other words: near metro stations in expensive condos. And that's where the $22 cocktail bars are.

    To finish off, the destitute live in DC SE (Wards 7&8) and just across the border in PG County (which is nicknamed Ward 9). The middle-class African Americans live in outer PG County. To make the racial separation complete, latinos live in the borders between the white and African-American communities.

    People who make 400k and work as contractors do not drive Bentleys. They spend their money sending their kids to Georgetown, GW and Ivy League schools. If you a million dollar McMansion and two or three kids going to those schools, 400k does not feel like that much.

    Let me be clear. 400k is a lot. I don't make close to that. Those people are extremely lucky.

    On the other hand, living in DC is a whole lot more expensive than living elsewhere in the US. I live in a small townhouse in DC suburbia within hearing range of an Interstate. When I lived in the Mid-Western state capital, I could have bought a home on several acres, with three garages, a horse stable, a swimming pool and 4 or 5 bedrooms for the price I paid or my little 2bed 1.5bath townhouse here.

    I am shocked when I see prices visiting my family in the rural south.

    The only places with higher real estate prices than downtown DC that I've seen are Manhattan and San Fran. DC is on par with the Loop in Chicago and Boston.

    And it's not only living costs that are high. Even groceries are significantly more expensive here.

  2. To conclude: Many people are extremely wealthy here. But living here is pretty expensive as well.

    I often think about moving to a cheaper area to live. However, for me the main advantage of living in a high income / expensive place is that due to my (relatively) high income, my pension contributions are high as well. That makes it worth it.

  3. Nepkarel's points aside, there is something deeply amusing about elite Defense personnel getting their underclothes in a bunch when their own personal privacy is on the line. Poor dears.


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