where the vast majority of one's net worth is tied to their home value. so when compared to the others' in California, their net worth is "average," even though in most other parts of the country, they would be considered "rich."
another aspect is that one's income and lifestyle is not commensurate with with the value of their home. in other words, the increase in their income has not kept up with the increase in their home value. therefore, if they had to purchase their home today, they could not afford it.
I wish I could afford a new car, but I'm only "california rich."
Prices shown in USD.
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