It’s difficult to know for sure how expensive a zip code is. You could live in a ceilingless shack right outside of New York City and pay more in property taxes than a Nebraska family living in a mansion made entirely of bulletproof glass... Well, maybe. The point is, it would take something like a year-to-date analysis of residential sale prices to figure out the median price, which is a total pain in the arse.
But here's the good news: The real estate website PropertyShark did it for you.
PropertyShark set out to find the most expensive zip codes in the United States, and did so very carefully. The site explains in its report why it's important to calculate the sale price -- not the asking price -- when you do this kind of study; doing so more accurately reflects conditions where there is a low supply and high demand, AKA in situations like the overpriced shack in the New York metropolitan area. Doing so also makes sure that luxury apartments, which are often priced lower incrementally until they are filled, aren't skewing the data on what people are willing to pay in general.
Now for the fun maps. Interestingly, the priciest 100 zip codes are located in 11 states, and 10 of these states are pictured below:
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You'll note that California takes the cake, with 91 zips in the top 100. San Francisco has 13 spots on the list, the highest number of any city, and Los Angeles County with its 21 zips is the most expensive county in the US.
Sidebar: The editor's note at the top of the page says that "PropertyShark is saddened by the losses caused by the California wildfires," and that "the article below is simply a presentation of hard data and in no way attempts to ignore the devastation that these areas are experiencing."
Below are the top 15 most expensive zip codes in the US (the rest can be found in the article). The most expensive East Coast zip, 11962, is Sagaponack, New York -- it held onto last year's ranking, coming in at No. 2.
Residents living in the bougie part of Brooklyn would probably be surprised to hear that Brooklyn just made it into the top 100 for the first time, with the Red Hook & Carroll Gardens zip. It's worth checking out the rest of New York, as it's second place in most expensive states (Thrillist will just point out that the New York itself is quite affordable -- and getting cooler -- especially places like the underrated city of Buffalo).
Only nine other states made it on the list -- Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Remember that this is an average and that it's totally possible for you to live cheaply in an area that's, for example, a 20-minute train ride from the nicest parts of NYC. And if you're still freaking out, check out some US cities and states that will actually pay you to move there.
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Ruby Anderson lives in Brooklyn and can assure you that it is possible to exist here on a freelance writer's budget as long as you do not shop at Whole Foods.