Suburbs generally provide a respite for young families and spacious dwellings for city professionals who prefer a quieter home life. Despite these broad similarities, a survey of high-end suburbs around the country shows they are not created equal -- in cost, that is, as expenditures vary greatly by state. Take Maumelle, Ark., for example, the most expensive suburb outside of Little Rock, where the median home price is $191,000 and the average household spends $12,510 on transportation per year, according to data from real estate researcher Onboard Informatics
. Compare that with Scarsdale, N.Y., a suburb of Manhattan where the average home sells for nearly $1.2 million and household transportation costs can add up to about $32,000 per year. Businessweek.com worked with Onboard Informatics to identify the most expensive suburbs outside the largest cities -- those with populations over 250,000, or the most populous city in the state if none are so large. The ranking is based on costs from housing and other nonretail expenditures to taxes and transportation costs. We define "suburb" as a Census place within 40 miles of city borders, including incorporated cities, towns, villages, and unincorporated areas. There are more than 25,000 places
identified by the U.S. Census Bureau nationwide. We only surveyed places with populations larger than the state median.
to see the most expensive suburb in each state.
Editor's Note: Businessweek.com's list of the Most Expensive Suburbs 2010 was calculated by weighing several factors: cost of living, nonretail expenditures (mortgage and utility payments), median home price, and median property tax.
The result was reached by taking a weighted average of nonretail expenditures (50 percent), cost of living (30 percent), median home price (10 percent), and median property tax (10 percent). In some states, property tax and median home sale information was not available, in which case we gave nonretail expenditures a 60 percent weight and cost of living a 40 percent weight (home prices may be provided from other sources as a reference, but did not factor into the ranking). If either the median property tax or median home price was unavailable, we gave the other measure a 20 percent weight.
The nonretail expenditures index factors in expenses such as mortgage payments and utility payments and compares it to the state average. The cost-of-living index factors in spending on such expenses as education, entertainment, food and beverage, health care, insurance, and clothing and compares it to the state average. All indexes are 2010 estimates based on an end-of-2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.
As Montana and Wyoming have wealthy subdivisions but few suburbs, Businessweek.com called local realtors in the states' major cities to identify the most expensive neighborhoods in their area.