Fredericksburg #1 in Texas for millionaires per capita; Kerrville 2nd
FREDERICKSBURG — A new study that ranks this city tops in Texas for millionaires per capita isn’t shocking to those familiar with its upscale amenities, high-end homes and popularity with transplants seeking a peaceful place to retire.
The New York company’s annual Global Wealth Monitor says 701 of the 10,860 residents here, or 6.5 percent, have $1 million or more in “investable assets,” a measure that excludes real estate holdings.
But good luck singling them out among the crowds of weekend shoppers along Main Street here, or in nearby Kerrville, for that matter.
Another retirement destination, Kerrville turns out to have a similar concentration of the comfortably well off, ranking second in Texas for millionaires per capita, with 1,244 among its 20,749 residents, or 6 percent.
“I know one millionaire, but he doesn’t show it,” said Joyce Griffin, 75, during a visit to the Dietert Senior Center in Kerrville. “He has a beat-up Chevy pickup from the 1970s.”
Griffin disavowed being a member of the millionaire’s club, a subject that Louise Kirby, a center staffer, artfully dodged, saying, “I would never confess to that. Not in a million years.”
Kirby moved to Kerrville from California in 1977 for its quiet, rural setting, but she sees the lack of a state income tax as a big draw for many other transplants.
The center opened in 2007 but already needs expanding to serve its 3,200 patrons. Nearing the launch of a capital campaign, center Director Tina Woods knows she can count on the community’s support. Donations covered $3 million of the cost of building it.
Many trace the high rankings of the Hill Country cities to their graying residents whose wealth was acquired before settling there.
“It’s a retirement area that draws people from big corporations, so (the rankings) don’t surprise me at all,” said Kerr County Judge Tom Pollard.
Similar sentiments were heard from Fredericksburg Mayor Linda Langerhans. “I guess I’ve known for years that there are a lot of very wealthy people here,” she said.
The good news, she said, is that those with deep pockets often are willing to share.
“Most of the people with wealth who live in this area are very philanthropic and volunteer in the community,” Langerhans said. “There are a few who are very reclusive, who many of us aren’t aware of unless they have large homes built.”
Nine homes in Fredericksburg topped $1 million in value, according to 2014 property tax appraisals, with 82 others worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
In Kerrville, eight homes are worth $1 million or more, and 125 others are appraised at $500,000 to $1 million, officials said.
Home prices are climbing because of a shortage of inventory, said Don Stefanov, a real estate agent in Fredericksburg.
“The demand for houses is crazy right now,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot more interest in retirement homes and people buying second houses.”
The oil boom’s influence on the nationwide distribution of wealth was apparent in the latest millionaire rankings, which moved North Dakota and South Dakota to 20th and 26th place, respectively.
“The amazing rise of North Dakota in the millionaires rankings clearly demonstrates the power of an industry to quickly create wealth,” says David Thompson, managing director of the Phoenix Global Wealth Monitor. “However, the states that are consistently in the top 10 have much more diversified economies or are smaller states that are geographically centered near wealth-generating metropolitan areas such as D.C., New York or Boston.”
Maryland, with 7.7 percent of its residents topping $1 million in liquid assets, led states in the study for the fourth straight year. Texas ranked 27th, with 468,391 millionaires among 9.47 million households, the study says.
The presence of so many wealthy people in the Hill Country has created a strong service industry and fostered what some call “an hourglass economy.”
“We have a very small, almost nonexistent middle class,” said Bob Waller, a vice president at Broadway Bank in Kerrville, a city he called “a retirement-health care community.”
“There’s the millionaires and then there are those who serve the millionaires, like me,” said Rachel Vickers, a window washer in Kerrville. “We’re filling a service niche.”
The bustling and affluent Fredericksburg of today is a far cry from the sleepy hometown Jerry Wuest couldn’t wait to leave in 1965.
“This place has remorphed itself from going dead into a tourist mecca,” said Wuest, 67, who’s happy to be back home.
[MacCormack, Zeke (2015, March 8). Millionaires aplenty in Hill Country towns, poll says. San Antonio Express News. Retrieved from http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Millionaires-aplenty-in-Hill-Country-towns-poll-6122461.php?t=33a2d1886ebeac66b9&cmpid=twitter-premium ]
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