CNBC released their annual list of the country's richest counties last week and there were a few locks and, well, a few surprises. One might expect Pitkin County, Colo., home to the tony resort community of Aspen, to make this list, what with its small population and astronomical property prices, but we wouldn't have guessed that Hunterdon County, N.J. would cruise into #5. Located further from NYC than some of the famously wealthy New Jersey suburbs like Alpine, Hunterdon benefits from two groups of commuters, one headed to the Big Apple and the other to Philly. To give you an idea of why rich folks travel that far to work, take a look at this absolutely massive estate in the Hunterdon hamlet of Milford, N.J. Listed for $10.3M, the mountain-style mansion sits on 125 acres, with huge lawns and treetop views stretching for miles. Inside, there are seven bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms, along with a squash court, opulent master suite, and towering great room.
? The suburbs of Washington, D.C. provide two of the top five richest counties, Fairfax County, Va. just across the Potomac, is the "poorer" of the two—if an average income of $133K a year can be considered poorer—to land at #4. This $8M mansion in McLean is a pretty typical suburban mansion, but with luxe interiors, stone patio, swimming pool, wine cellar, gym, and even a putting green amid the lushly landscaped grounds. Considering similarly sized homes on the river go for nearly twice this amount, this 5,600-square-foot, five-bedroom manse might seem like a deal to some McLean residents.
? This equestrian estate in Loudon County, Va.—the other D.C. suburb on the list, at #3—demonstrates one of the area's primary virtues, open space. This property, listed for a heady $15.8M, measures 464 acres, land that includes a riding ring, fenced pastures, and a pair of barns, along with formal gardens and frontage on Goose Creek. The restored stone farmhouse dates from 1853, and while it has been well maintained and updated over the years, it is in some need of a little style makeover. Still, revamping the inside should be a much easier task than finding another sprawling property so close to Washington.
? For the top two spots on the list, we move out of the bedroom community category and into the land of the ultra-high-end vacation destination. At #2, Pitkin County, Colo. is a playground for the rich, with some of the country's most expensive real estate as a testament to its desirability. This 15,000-square-foot log mansion in Aspen isn't the most expensive in the county, even though it's priced at $25M. With eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a gorgeous organic-looking swimming pool, and unreal views of Aspen mountain, it's going to take a lot more than the average local income of $134K to secure this trophy property.
? The second home owners in Nantucket County, Mass. are so rich and occupy so much of the island's housing stock that it takes home the #1 spot nationally as the wealthiest county. Considering just about everyone who comes here is looking to spend time on the beach, the rare waterfront properties command sky-high prices. This immaculate shingle-style beach house, with seven bedrooms and 12 total bathrooms, enjoys private access to the beach thanks to stairs over the dunes. That access, plus the pool and guest house, helped push the price of this place up to $20M.