What it takes to be considered ‘wealthy’ in DC area

D.C. residents think it takes $3 million to be wealthy and $1.1 million to be financially comfortable.  (Getty Images/iStockphoto/bernardbodo)

Defining what it means to be wealthy is part perception, but the average answer from D.C.-area residents in a recent Charles Schwab survey is that it takes $3 million in assets. That is $1 million more than the national average.

The reason why it’s higher is probably obvious.

“Honestly it is no surprise, when you think about the cost of living here. So whenever you think about what it actually means to be wealthy or to be comfortable, it is all relative, and at the very base of that is cost of living,” Joy Stephens, a Schwab vice president and branch manager for the D.C. region, told WTOP.

When D.C.-area residents were asked how much it takes to just be financially comfortable, the average answer was $1.1 million in assets, compared to the national average of $655,000.

Schwab said D.C.-area households also are largely saving more, whether for emergencies, saving in general or in the stock market, and planning for the unknown.

“No one really saw COVID coming. It has had a lot of positive downstream impacts. People are taking a really hard look at their finances and estate planning, and taking those things very seriously to make sure they are in a good position, because COVID has certainly introduced a lot of uncertainty when it comes to finances,” Stephens said.

According to Schwab’s survey of D.C.-area residents:

  • 47% say they are more likely now to be saving for emergencies and saving more in general;
  • 31% say they are more likely now to have a written financial plan;
  • 26% say they are more likely to invest more in the stock market.

When asked to rate their financial stress currently on a scale of zero to 100, the average answer from D.C.-area residents surveyed was 48.6, slightly lower than the national average of 49.2.

Schwab’s most recent Modern Wealth Survey for D.C. was conducted online by Logica Research between June 25 and July 2 and included 500 D.C.-area residents.

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