According to a study from SmartAsset released this week, Falls Church residents rank the wealthiest in Virginia. The study assessed wealth by comparing counties across three categories: the amount of investment income residents receive, total per capita income and the median home value.
Falls Church ranked number one in the state for overall wealth and median home value, with a national rank of 11 for the former rank and 9 for the latter rank. According to the SmartAsset study, the per capita investment income of Falls Church was $23,899, the median home value was $935,913, per capita income was $127,610 and the wealth index was 49.25. After Falls Church, Arlington County and Fairfax County follow in second and third place for the top 10 wealthiest localities in Virginia.
This isn’t the first time Falls Church has ranked high in “wealth.” In a 2017 article by Forbes on the top 10 richest counties in America, Falls Church ranked number two, with Loudoun County ranking number one that year. In 2011, Forbes ranked Falls Church the “richest locality” in America, with Loudoun being the first runner up. Falls Church was also named the “healthiest” community in America by the U.S. News & World Report in 2018.
Steve Sabato, the senior public relations manager of SmartAsset, said the study was conducted in 2022 using “IRS data from the tax year 2019,” the most recently available data. To identify the wealthiest counties, Sabato said he and his team “compared all U.S. counties across the three metrics: investment income, home value and per capita income. They started the analysis by calculating the “Investment index” for each county by “evenly weighing” the “Ordinary Dividends”— a share of a company’s profits passed on to the shareholder periodically —, “Qualified Dividends”— dividends from shares in domestic corporations and certain qualified foreign corporations — and “Net Capital Gains”— the amount by which the net long-term capital gain for the year is more than the net short-term capital loss for the year.
From there, Sabato said the team “calculated the Median Home Value”— the middle point for real estate prices — and the “Per Capita Income”— the measure of the amount of money earned per person in a nation or geographic region— for each county and ranked them on all three metrics. The team calculated a “Wealth Index” for all U.S. counties based on a combination of the three metrics and ranked them “accordingly” to provide a “holistic view” of what areas of the U.S. are accumulating the most wealth.
No other factors went into the ranking, focusing strictly on the data and not “digging” into underlying factors surrounding “wealth generation.” Sabato said studies like these are released “to get people thinking and talking about personal finance.” In this case, Sabato said “we wanted to paint a picture of what per capita wealth looks like across state and county lines.”
Falls Church council member David Snyder stated in reaction to the news: “We are a community of hard working families.” He also said what was “missed” in the simple wealth measurement “is the fact that so many in our community work in government, for nonprofits and the private sector in public service to benefit people in this country and around the world.” People “are attracted by [Falls Church’s] high quality schools, government services, proximity to transportation infrastructure and public service jobs,” with Snyder also stating that the primary role in local government is “to provide [people] what they need to thrive so that they can contribute to the welfare of people in this country and around the world.”