Believe it or not: being rich is expensive

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 3:40pm

Many people dream of someday making enough money to be able to buy whatever they want, and never having to worry again.

But the reality is that having a lot of money costs a lot of money, and living a wealthy lifestyle doesn't come cheap. Not only do bigger houses, luxury cars and better schools cost more, but the everyday cost of maintaining fancier things can really add up.

Household help

While maid service may seem like a luxury, bigger houses are much harder to keep clean, especially if you're working long hours to pay the huge mortgage. Chances are, you're going to need a housekeeper to tidy up and be home once your children return from private school.

Having a housekeeper for just a few hours each week day can add up to more than $20,000 a year, according to Quintessentially People, a group that helps wealthy clients find household staff.

Add on a few thousand bucks for someone to tend to your yard every week or so. Standard landscaping maintenance for yards from a half acre up to three acres can cost $1,500 to $3,000 per month, Keith Williams, a landscape architect in Palm Beach, Florida, told CNNMoney.

All those homes, kids, cars, planes and yachts the super rich have don't take care of themselves. Here's a list of essential employees, and what it costs to maintain a 1% lifestyle each year:



Many wealthy families feel it necessary to forgo public schools -- with their larger classes and more limited resources -- in favor of private schools with smaller classes, olympic-sized pools and highly-educated teachers who speak Mandarin.

But that choice costs a pretty penny -- the average nationwide cost of private school tuition is nearly $11,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In some of the pricier areas like New York, it can cost up to $40,000 per year for each kid -- or about the cost of a year of college, according to Amanda Uhry, founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors.


Everyone has to pay to keep the lights and heat on. But the more rooms you have to light and heat, the more sinks and showers you have to keep water running, the more expensive your bill.

Sonja Morgan, the famed Real Housewife of New York City, said she pays $1,400 in utilities per month for her 4,800 square foot townhouse on New York's Upper East Side.

"Is that a lot?," she asked in an interview at her dining room table.

In comparison, utilities for a 425 square foot studio apartment would cost just under $50.


Most wealthy people can afford to drive nicer cars than the rest of us. But if you have a luxury car, you'll usually end up paying more for premium gas, repairs and maintenance.

Just getting your car serviced can cost as much as $400 for a Mercedes S Class, vs. $60 for a Honda Civic, according to estimates from U.S. News and World Report.

And if you own a car in a major city like New York, you're likely paying more than $30,000 annually just to park it in a garage.

The really rich life

The operating costs of being rich get even higher the more money you have. Those who have enough change to have a second home, a driver, a private plane or even a yacht, pay more than most people make in a year, just to maintain those things.

For example, the super rich may need a personal assistant for about $90,000 per year, and a chef to cook for their busy family, at about $100,000, according to Quintessentially People.

The pilot on your private plane will run you about $300,000, and the flight attendant another $150,000. For just a couple months on your yacht, you're shelling out $44,000 for the crew alone.

"These people are essential to our wealthy clients," said Samuel Martin, co-founder of Quintessentially People. "These people require this kind of support."

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