Or you could try another route: Find a neighborhood that is nearly as nice as the one you aspire to, but that comes at a discount.
Real estate research firm Neighborhood Scout, did a fascinating study that turned up great fodder for such a search. We used the findings to identify some great new estates of the day here at Luxist, which we will be featuring later this month, and AOL's real estate channel put together this photo gallery). Neighborhood Scout's founder Dr. Andrew Schiller and his team used their "match" feature to trove their database of neighborhood metrics to come up with locales that have many of the same attributes of the poshest places, but offer a steep discount in real estate values.
So, for example, if you want Nantucket, but can't afford it, try Southwest Harbor, Maine. Schiller finds both "quaint, sophisticated, nautical," but Southwest Harbor comes at an 83% discount to Nantucket. Want Malibu? Try Madison, Conn. instead. The median home price there is $650,000 vs. nearly $3 million in Malibu.
So, even as prices plummet in places like Las Vegas and Orlando, FL, you will likely do better in the long run with your real estate dollar if you buy a home in an expensive neighborhood that is currently retaining its home price values.
To see just what you would pay for a home in one of America's most expensive neighborhood, Luxist asked NeighborhoodScout, a research firm with a huge database of neighborhood statistics, to provide a list of the most expensive neighborhoods around the country by zip code.
Dr. Andrew Schiller, a geographer and founder and president of NeighborhoodScout, did this research. His initial study found that many of the priciest zip codes are clustered within 30 miles of Los Angeles and Manhattan. "Around the biggest cities, there is a lot of demand and the greatest opportunities for people to make money," he explains. He notes these neighborhoods also tend to have great schools, wonderful views, nearby outdoor recreation and other amenities.
So as not to have our whole list made up of homes on either coast, we asked Schiller to include zip codes in all quadrants of the U.S. That explains why we include some of the most expensive zip codes in the Mid West, even though they are actually less expensive than quite a number of other zip codes found around the cities on either coast that we didn't include on our list. The result is a geographically diverse list of the 30 most expensive zip codes.
Luxist editor Deidre Woollard supplemented the research by identifying a property for sale and including it as the Estate of the Day.
If you are real estate shopping today and worried that prices could fall further across the country, buying in one of the most expensive zip codes in your region could be a smart strategy. "There is no doubt," says Schiller, "they do hold their value."
Want to know what the most expensive item in the world is by weight and volume? It's not a diamond or other rare gem. It's actually a piece of paper.
Wikipedia pegs it as the so-called Treskilling Yellow stamp from Sweden -- probably the only one of its kind. It has a current value of more than $2 million (or $87 billion per kilogram, according to the site).
Here's what makes it so valuable: Back in Sweden in 1855, when the currency was known as the skilling, the 3 skilling stamp ('treskilling') was printed in green. An 8 skilling stamp was printed in yellow. But due to a printing error, a few 3 skilling stamps were printed in yellow. No one knows how many.
Three years later, Sweden changed its currency and it wasn't until 1886 that a 14-year-old school boy discovered the stamp among his grandmother's possessions and sold it to a dealer for the then-lofty price of 7 kronor. The stamp traded hands several times over the next decade, fetching ever higher prices and inspiring collectors to search for more Treskilling Yellows. But no other was ever found.
By the 1990s the stamp price crossed $1 million for the first time and was setting records every time it changed hands. The last sale was in 1996 when it sold for 2,875,000 Swiss Francs ($2.6 million US) to collectors who remain anonymous. According to the book, The Treskilling Yellow, the stamp is insured for $15 million.