How Much It Costs To Be Bill Gates
September 29, 2010, 04:41 PM
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A reader writes that
I met Bill and Melinda Gates a couple times after they bought a house in Fairbanks Ranch [a gated community in northern San Diego County next to Rancho Santa Fe]: 5K square feet, $5.1M, on a postage stamp lot. ... We used the same bank.

His clothes were just a little better with never a sign of wear, eye-glasses just a little better with not the least sign of corrosion, etc., suggesting he replaced them every few monUths.  They went to the local cinema which had just a touch of the artsy to it.  They patronized the best coffee shop and  consistently tipped the barristas a buck.  But the small noticeable visual differences in quality represent a lot of money difference in the prices he paid. The glasses he wore were the $350+ titanium ones, not the 2 for $100 ones most people where I live now get.  The shirts were priced $200 apiece in the window of the local shop

In general, super rich people today like to live, on an hour by hour basis, rather like the upper middle class lives, comfortably and casually. They like to drop in at the local coffee shop rather than have the butler make a huge to-do out of "Tea is served, sir." They don`t dress for dinner, the way rich people used to put on tuxedos each evening at home. They like to drive themselves instead of having a chauffeur, except when commuting through heavy traffic.

But they do like to have lots of beautiful homes in beautiful places (Gates` primary home in the Seattle region supposedly cost $44 million) and get from one to another in private jets, and have personal assistants make sure everything goes smoothly for them when they get there. It all sounds much less of a hassle than being rich in the Robber Baron days.