Jeff Bezos has passed Bill Gates to become the richest person in history — here’s the secretive waterfront town where both billionaires live

Most of the town is equipped with surveillance cameras.

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Most of the town is equipped with surveillance cameras.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos became the richest person in history Monday when his net-worth eclipsed $105.1 billion after Amazon shares climbed 1.4%.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the previous record-holder, saw his net-worth pass $100 billion in 1999. It is now around $91.9 billion.

But both mega-billionaires live in the tiny waterfront city of Medina, Washington, located just outside of Seattle.

They are far from the only moneyed residents. The town’s inhabitants include numerous other Microsoft bigwigs, tech entrepreneurs, and telecom magnates.

We visited to see why the sleepy town has become a haven for the 1%.


Medina is located on a peninsula just across Lake Washington from Seattle, and it has long been a haven for tech bigwigs in the area.

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GoogleMaps

Visitors enter the town from the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. Measuring 7,708 feet in length, it is the longest floating bridge in the world.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: The Seattle Times


Medina is a city of about 3,000 people. The Medina Beach Park doubles as the city hall and police station.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The city has a spectacular view of Seattle, Lake Washington, and the surrounding area. You feel miles away from Seattle’s bustling downtown from here.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Almost all of the houses on the water in Medina have a dock and a small private beach. Lake Washington is a popular place for swimming, water sports, and boating in the summer.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The town is filled with evergreens. Medina was designated as a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation in 2006.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Arbor Day Foundation


While the roads are lined with evergreens and shrubs, the houses tend have their own distinct vegetation and landscaping. This property was dotted with palms.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The best-known street in the city is Evergreen Point Road. Because the road runs along the water, it is a who’s who of luxury real estate. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and several Microsoft executives live on the street.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Evergreen Point Road, like most of Medina, was very quiet. A car passed here or there, but for the most part the neighborhood was eerily peaceful.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

That is, until a police car rolled up moments after I took this photo. The officer said a neighbor had called about me walking around. It was an unsettling moment. I had been in Medina less than 15 minutes.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The town is almost entirely residential. The Medina Grocery & Deli and this post office appear to be the only sources of commercial activity.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

There is a mural on the side of the post office recounting the incorporation of Medina in 1955. The city was first settled in 1891 and named after a city in Saudi Arabia.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The Wells Medina Nursery, a plant store about a mile from the post office, is the only other store in town. Most shopping can be done in nearby Bellevue.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The houses on the waterfront side of Evergreen Point Road were all blocked by high gates. The mansions looked massive, but it was hard to see inside.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The landscaping on most of the properties was impeccable.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

These “lending libraries” were dotted on some of the streets, and the town is filled with expansive and beautiful parks.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Cameras, motion sensors, and other forms of surveillance are outside every house on the waterfront side.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The houses on the other side of Evergreen Point Road are still elaborate, but not on the same level as the waterfront properties.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Just up the road from the post office and grocery store is Jeff Bezos’ house. There isn’t much to see. A tall gate and hedges block any view from the road. Bezos’ estate spans 5.3 acres and includes a 20,000-square-foot house and an 8,300-square-foot house.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Bezos paid $10 million for the estate in 1998, but it underwent a $28 million renovation in 2010, around which time he bought the 24,000-square-foot house next door. That house was rumored to have sold for at least $53 million.

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GoogleMaps

Source: BizJournal


In 2009, Medina installed city-wide surveillance that included cameras at every intersection and a system that automatically cross-references license plates with crime databases. It was criticized by activists, but a council member told The Seattle Times that crime prevention “outweighs concern over privacy.”

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: The Seattle Times


City council members deny they are trying to create a gated-community atmosphere, but considering my run-in with a police officer while simply walking on sidewalks with a camera, that’s exactly what it felt like.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Bill Gates lives about a half mile up the road from Bezos in this $125 million compound he nicknamed “Xanadu 2.0.” The 66,000-square-foot house is brimming with state-of-the-art technology.

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This aerial photograph taken July 13 shows Bill and Melinda Gates’ home in Medina, Washington, which cost more than $60 million and took four years to build.
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Reuters

Of course, it has a spectacular view of Lake Washington. The house has a 23-car garage, six kitchens, 24 bathrooms, and a reception hall that can accommodate 200 guests.

Source: Business Insider


The Overlake Country Club in Medina has been open since 1927. Membership to the club is only by invitation.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Overlake Club


The billionaire Charles Simonyi owns this house known as Villa Simonyi, or the “Windows 2000 House,” because it has 2,000 windows. Simonyi made his fortune heading up the Microsoft unit that created Word and Excel.

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Chris Frost

If you think you’d like to move to Medina, this house just off the second fairway of the country club is listed for $7.2 million. It has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and a “brilliant open floor plan.”

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Zillow


This 6,120-square-foot house is also on the market. A cool $7.56 million buys you a five-bedroom, six-bath designed by the famed interior decorator Nate Berkus.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Zillow


The median home value in Medina is $1.56 million, and the median household income is $174,000. But not all the houses in Medina are extravagant. There are many simpler abodes, like the one pictured here.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Sources: DataUSA


The town adjacent to Medina, Hunts Point, isn’t anything to sneeze at either. With about 500 residents, its median household income is slightly higher at $180,000. The median property value is $2 million.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: DataUSA


The entire town is a single evergreen-lined road called Hunts Point Road.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, lives in Hunts Point. The relatively modest house has only four bedrooms and is located on 2 acres.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Next door to Ballmer is this estate, owned by the Seattle telecom billionaire Craig McCaw, who founded McCaw Cellular (which was purchased by AT&T). McCaw purchased the house from the saxophonist Kenny G.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider