(Bloomberg News) The U.S.'s richest retirees are spurning Florida's sun in favor of Seattle's rain and the company of Steve Ballmer.
Hunts Point, Washington, a Seattle suburb with more than 150 days of rain a year and about 400 residents including the Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer, had an average household retirement income of $200,431 in 2010. That puts the peninsula town at No. 1 in a Bloomberg Rankings list of 37 places with the wealthiest older residents.
"Most of the homes are on the water or near the water," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Seattle-based Zillow Inc. "It's right across the bridge from Seattle, it's near Microsoft, and of course it's a very pretty place."
Small, private spots such as Hunts Point that provide easy access to cities along with an island or country ambiance are among the favorite places for the nation's wealthiest retirees, according to the ranking. Older residents of the top-ranked enclaves are flush for retirement, with incomes from pensions, savings and investments averaging more than six figures before Social Security. The list includes four cities in Florida, home to one of the world's biggest retirement hubs.
Bloomberg's list, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, ranks places with at least 100 residents, a retirement income averaging at least $75,000 and median home values of $500,000 or more.
"We have a group of people who have prepared extremely well," Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity near Palo Alto, California, said of retirees. "They have a few million dollars in their retirement accounts. They're going to have a lot of flexibility."
In Hunts Point, where retirement income is nine times the national average, about 21 percent of residents are 65 or older. Almost half of the homes have at least an acre on Lake Washington, and it's one of 23 towns on the list with median housing values of more than $1 million. Hunts Point is designated a "Tree City USA" by the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit educational group in Nebraska City, Nebraska, for its forests, which combined with the shoreline provide privacy.
The Village of Bannockburn, Illinois, No. 5 on the Bloomberg list, has more than six miles of equestrian and pedestrian trails and is 26 miles north of Chicago. About 13 percent of its population is at least 65 and the average retirement income is $129,256.
"It seems like you have suburban areas all around and then you enter a country setting," said George Fenton, a 57-year-old retiree who lives in Bannockburn. "It's very wooded with tremendous amounts of greenery. The lots are very large and the infrastructure is fantastic."