I toured 2 of NYC's most notoriously expensive areas for real estate, and they offered a very different look at the city's wealth

tribeca nycKatie Warren/Business Insider

New York City is home to millionaires, billionaires, and outrageously expensive real estate.

I recently toured two of the most expensive areas for real estate in the city: Billionaires' Row, a set of super-tall luxury skyscrapers along the southern edge of Central Park where condos start at more than $3 million and can cost upwards of $60 million, and Tribeca, a trendy downtown neighborhood where the median sale price is $3.8 million.

Tribeca, the city's richest zip code, has an average income of $879,000, and has been known to attract celebrities and young people. Billionaires' Row, meanwhile, has seen some record-breaking sales by billionaires.

After spending time in both parts of the city, it was clear that the two areas represent two different faces of wealth.

On Billionaires' Row, the ultra-wealthy buy sky-high penthouses they'll rarely set foot in for the prestige of Central Park views.

Billionaires' Row, a set of eight ultra-luxury skyscrapers along the southern end of Central Park in Manhattan, has seen some of New York City's biggest home sales ever.

In 2014, Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell paid about $100 million for a penthouse in the One57 tower, which was the most expensive home ever sold in New York City at the time. And in January 2019, hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin shattered that record by purchasing a $238 million penthouse in nearby 220 Central Park South.

one57Katie Warren/Business Insider

Yet these record-breaking sales hide the fact that many Billionaires' Rows condos are sitting empty.

The area's wealthy buyers may rarely even set foot in their pricey apartments there. Dell, for example, lives primarily in Austin, Texas. And Griffin is based in Chicago and has made extravagant real-estate purchases in London and Miami in addition to New York.

The Billionaires' Row towers also currently have a glut of high-end inventory, with more than 40% of condos unsold, Curbed New York recently reported.

And then there's the neighborhood to consider. Billionaires' Row's Midtown Manhattan location is a bustling business, tourism, and retail district. And as two full-time real-estate investors recently told me, the "traffic, noise, hassle, and retail" don't make it an area where most New Yorkers want to live.

I recently toured a $58.5 million condo on Billionaires' Row, and my impression was that those who'd pay that price for such a home are paying mostly for the views and the prestige of being able to say they own a home on New York City's Billionaires' Row - even if they barely actually live there.

Tribeca, on the other hand, is a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that attracts young people with its plethora of trendy nightlife and luxury fitness studios.

In the recent afternoon I spent in Tribeca, I found it to be a vibrant, trendy, and walkable neighborhood full of young people and families.

The residents are affluent, with an average income of $879,000, according to Bloomberg. And many of them are celebrities, drawn in by "paparazzi-proof" buildings on quiet, cobblestoned streets that are within walking distance of restaurants, bars, and luxury fitness studios like Equinox and SoulCycle.

tribeca nycKatie Warren/Business Insider

Millennials, in particular, cite walkability as a key factor when deciding where to live, and the so-called "wellness generation is happy to spend its money on pricey gym memberships, so it's no surprise that Tribeca is a relatively young neighborhood, with 45% of the population aged between 18 and 44.

When it comes to real estate, Tribeca is known for its loft-style low-rises that couldn't be more different from a 1,000-foot-tall Billionaires' Row skyscraper.

While Billionaires' Row seems to rely on the traditional prestige of Central Park views and the purchases of billionaires who may rarely even live there, Tribeca's liveliness and village charm embody the younger tastes of wealth in the city.

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