Where the Wealth Is

Richest Communities in Cuyahoga County

As ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau's figures for 1999 median household income

1. Hunting Valley $200,000+

2. Chagrin Falls Township* $192,624

3. Bentleyville $160,902

4. Gates Mills $133,605

5. Pepper Pike $133,316

6. Moreland Hills $113,977

7. Orange $89,660

8. Solon $78,903

9. Brecksville $76,159

10. Bratenahl $76,028

11. Bay Village $70,397

12. Highland Heights $69,750

13. Strongsville $68,660

14. Mayfield Village $66,048

15. Beachwood $65,406

16. Westlake $64,963

17. Valley View Village $64,063

18. Shaker Heights $63,983

19. Village of Chagrin Falls $62,917

20. Walton Hills $62,321

If you're well off, there are many places you might live on either side of town. But if you're really and truly wealthy (and didn't make your money on a sports field), it's likely you'll locate on the East Side.

Your town of choice? Hunting Valley, where the median household income is so high that the census labels it as "$200,000+." It's the only community in Northeast Ohio to earn the plus sign.

If you don't choose Hunting Valley, you're still likely to remain east of the Cuyahoga, perhaps in Chagrin Falls, Bentleyville, Gates Mills or Pepper Pike — places that round out the list of the top five communities with the highest median household incomes in Cuyahoga County (for 1999, the last year the census tracked the information).

No surprise there, really. But what threw us for a bit of a loop is that the East Side holds claim to nine of the top 10 slots on the list, with Moreland Hills (No. 6), Orange (No. 7), Solon (No. 8) and Bratenahl (No. 10).

The West Side makes its first appearance in rank No. 11, with leafy, lakeside Bay Village. It hits again at No. 15 with Westlake. Rocky River, thought of as one of the wealthiest communities on the West Side, doesn't make the top 20, with a median household income of $51,636.

But if you include eastern Lorain County, the twist is that Avon, with a median household income of $66,747, ranks as the third-richest community on the West Side, followed closely by Avon Lake ($65,988).

Other out-of-the-county boomtowns include South Russell Village ($94,714), Bainbridge ($85,014) and Aurora ($70,998).

Clearly, when it comes to wealth, size matters — and bigger isn't better. Hunting Valley has merely 717 inhabitants, while Bentleyville and Bratenahl aren't much larger with populations of 947 and 1,333, respectively. In fact, only four of the top 20 communities had populations over 20,000: Solon (22,248 people), Shaker Heights (28,459), Westlake (32,024) and Strongsville (44,560).

So who, specifically, is living where? Cleveland's wealthiest family, the Lerners, live in Hunting Valley, as do many socialites and CEOs. While the West Side has its fair share of businesspeople, it's also home to many professional athletes, who are drawn to new mini-mansions in Westlake.

A final factoid: Of the top 100 most expensive homes in the Cleveland area (as reported in our March 2002 issue), only 12 were on the West Side (mostly in Westlake and Rocky River). Thirty-nine of the top 100 homes were in Hunting Valley. </

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