Where the Rich Reside
The state's wealthiest ZIP codes.
32461 - Rosemary Beach
The people of Rosemary Beach, a gulf-front development in Walton County in the Panhandle, will rush to assure you that their community bears little resemblance to south Florida in terms of glamor and glitz. What it has in common with south Florida, however, is to share first place with south Florida’s Fisher Island as the ZIP code in Florida with the highest median household income, at $250,000-plus. Indeed, Rosemary Beach ranks ahead of Fisher Island, and first in the state, in percentage of households reporting income in excess of $200,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s also first in the state in median earnings for workers at $212,440.
That said, Rosemary Beach doesn’t sound very south Florida. There’s no guard gate, no marina, no grass lawns. (Codes limit yard vegetation to native plants.) The tallest building can’t exceed 50 feet. Boardwalks and paths make everything in the 107-acre community a five-minute walk, including the stroll to the Post Office. There’s no home delivery. “You walk over and get it and talk to your neighbors. Go get a cup of coffee,” says resident Kenneth L. Gifford, president and CEO of Rosemary Beach Holdings, which manages the community’s commercial space, realty and home rental program. What makes Rosemary Beach special, he says, is “the people. You can sit on your porch and talk to your neighbor across the boardwalk.”
The Mayberry-by-the-Sea is by design — a south Florida design. Utah-based financial company Leucadia founded Rosemary Beach in 1995, creating it out of whole cloth based on a traditional neighborhood design by the famed Miami firm of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. That means “new urbanism,” approved architects and builders only, restrictions on colors and other design strictures to keep the “Pan Caribbean” theme. Sale listings in January ran from $8.9 million for a six-bedroom gulf-front home to $400,000 for a one-bedroom condo loft.
The community counts among its residents Republican strategist Karl Rove, retired athletes, Atlanta and Texas millionaires and Nashville stars. (Nashville is closer than Miami.) South Florida might have J.Lo; Rosemary Beach is where Kellie Pickler got engaged and Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw vacation. “For some people, this is their second, third, fourth — some fifth or sixth home,” Gifford says.