Gold Coast (Connecticut)
The Gold Coast, also known as Lower Fairfield County or Southwestern Connecticut not limited to the Connecticut Panhandle, is a part of Western Connecticut that includes the entire southern portion of Fairfield County as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Super-Public Use Microdata Area (Super-PUMA) Region 09600. The area is about 50 miles northeast of New York City, and is home to many wealthy NYC-based business people. Parts of the region are served by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.
This area is often portrayed in culture as a bastion of wealth. Since the mid-20th century, a number of novels and films have been set here, including Gentleman's Agreement, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Swimmer, The Stepford Wives, and The Ice Storm.
The Gold Coast generally includes landlocked towns like New Canaan, Wilton, and Weston as well, with the scenic Merritt Parkway as its centerpiece.
- Back Country
- Belle Haven
- Bell Island
- Black Rock
- Brookfield Center
- Cos Cob
- The Cove
- Fairfield Beach
- Greenfield Hill
- Green's Farms
- Long neck point
- Lyons Plains
- New Canaan
- North Stamford
- Old Greenwich
- Round Hill
- Sasco Hill
- Shippan Point
- Wilson Point
The "Gold Coast" is most notable for the expensive waterfront properties located along its shore, as well as the close proximity of its cities and towns to New York City. Other areas in Fairfield County that are regarded for their wealth and expensive lakefront property are Brookfield, New Fairfield, Danbury and Sherman. These towns are located along Candlewood Lake, and are also located within close proximity to the City. Brookfield and Newtown are located along the shores of Lake Lillinonah, which also consists of expensive waterfront property.
Although the term "Gold Coast" could apply to any of the thirteen parkway municipalities, the distinction of being called "the wealthiest town in Connecticut" can be attributed to the panhandle: either Darien, Greenwich or New Canaan, depending on the statistic used. With waterfront generally having the highest property value and coveted direct access to the New Haven railroad commuter line and Interstate-95, Darien and Greenwich boast a lower mill rate and are generally more sought after than New Canaan. However, property value is not the only way to determine which is wealthier. As a side note, Darien has been listed as the richest town in the US as of 2018.
It is difficult to compare the three, as each has markedly different land area. In addition, Greenwich has three times the population of Darien or New Canaan. With more land area, average home values in New Canaan may be higher than Darien, but not the price per square foot. With a higher population, a larger demographic weighs greater on the median income in Greenwich. This plus the 47 square miles in land area makes Greenwich essentially incomparable. New Canaan has an advantage of having more than 50% greater land area than Darien, but with a similar-sized population. According to the 2000 US Census, New Canaan was first in per capita income ($82,049), Darien second ($77,519) and Greenwich third ($74,346). According to the Connecticut 2014-15 Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List per Capita (AENGLC); Per Capita Income for Greenwich was $91,478, Darien $94,376, and New Canaan $99,016: the highest of the 169 towns in Connecticut. Per capita income does not take into account personal assets, such as homes, jewelry, art, boats or automobiles, so many of these families have much greater net worth.
Greenwich has the lowest mill rate, which may indicate higher property value, with Darien ranking second.
In 2000, New Canaan had a higher percentage of resident homeowners (83%) than Greenwich (69%), which may indicate more wealth. According to some sources, New Canaan should be considered the wealthiest town along the Gold Coast because of its higher rate of home ownership, suggesting a higher level of personal assets. In July 2011, The Daily Fairfield reported that Darien was the state's richest town.
An additional consideration is to measure wealth per person - not aggregate town wealth. Both the Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List per Capita (AENGLC) Wealth Value and the CPR AENGLC Wealth Value, show that Greenwich has the highest wealth value in Connecticut, at more than $430,000 per person. The AENGLC is based on the value of residential and commercial real estate, and measures the town's tax base available to pay for public education (see Conn. Dep of Ed). It is not a measure of the personal wealth of individual residents.
Yet another definition for the Gold coast is one provided by the University of Connecticut's "Five Connecticuts" study, which indicates that the area includes the "wealthy," or blue towns. These are Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Weston, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Easton.
A last method is to check the planning regions. This yields very similar results to the above method but adds Stamford and Norwalk, while subtracting Ridgefield.
A 2015 Connecticut Post article ranked Darien as the snobbiest town in Connecticut.
- "Census.gov website retrieved 2011-06-26" (PDF).
- "16 Lowest Mill Rates in Connecticut | Patch". Brookfield, CT Patch. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
- How Census Income Estimates Provide Misleading Statistics on Personal Income for Connecticut Towns [permanent dead link]
- "Darien Rises to the Top of the State", The Daily Fairfield; retrieved 2011-07-03
- "The Changing Demographics of Connecticut - 1990 to 2000 part 2: The Five Connecticuts" (PDF). CT Datahaven. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
- "Governance". Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
- "Ten snobbiest towns and neighborhoods in Connecticut". Connecticut Post. Retrieved 2015-12-13.