Thursday, October 11, 2007

How To Live Rich Without Going Broke

While very few of us will reach the ranks of the world's billionaires, it doesn't mean we can't live like them.

And we don't have to shell out several million to do so.

That's because a number of companies are offering temporary use of high-end products and services such as yachts, exotic cars, luxury handbags, and even personal chefs and stylists.

So while you may not be able to call it your own, you still get every benefit of living the rich life.

"We call it the Luxury Access Revolution," says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a research company that provides luxury information to high-net-worth individuals and the companies that cater to them. "It makes it easy for you to say, 'I'm not going to buy it. I'm going to carve out the experience and buy the experience,' because [people] don't want the hassle of owning the possession. You're seeing it across many more categories."

NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway-owned company that began offering fractional jet ownership in 1986, caught on to customer desire for the luxe life with minimal commitment in 2001. That's when it introduced the Marquis Jet Card, which allows the user to sublease a NetJets fractional share of which Marquis Jet Partners is the owner. Individuals may pre-buy 25 hours of yearly flight time for $119,900 (excluding additional charges like tax, fuel, etc.).

Several other companies are following suit.

Home Cooking
Private Chefs, which has staffed the homes of Richard Branson and Madonna, will dispatch a personal cook to yours for as little as a day. Be prepared to pay a $100 agency fee plus $35 per hour, and everything else is taken care of, from the shopping and cooking to serving and cleanup.

"This is the part of our business that's been increasing steadily in the past year," says Christian Paier, PCI president. The company gets an average of 10 requests per week in each of its eight offices located in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Dallas; London; New York; Las Vegas; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. "It appeals," Paier continues, "to a lot more people than the full-time thing. It's affordable; anybody can do it." His customers often "want to splurge and have a wonderful experience, whether it's just them and their spouse, or a small dinner for six or eight friends. People absolutely love it."

It's hard not to feel privileged when an executive chef is serving you gourmet food, but when it's not simply your primary residence, but rather your only one, cabin fever tends to set in.

Solution? Get an apartment in Paris.

Ooh-La-La Life
Yes, it may be temporary, but opt for one of the exquisite, fully furnished pieds-a-terre available through, and you're practically guaranteed an authentic experience. The company offers short- and long-term rentals in select neighborhoods, including Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Ile St. Louis, Le Marais and the Latin Quarter. To live like a local without the hassle, the company offers an optional daily or weekly housekeeping service, and an optional car and driver.

A 2,000-square-foot apartment, for example, which is considered very large for Paris, would run for about $3 million, and that's without taxes and the cost of maintaining such an investment. However, a brief stay in one of's similarly sized dwellings, which combine the spaciousness and privacy of an apartment with the amenities of a hotel, might only cost about $10,000 per week at the higher end of the spectrum.

"It's a place of their own," says CEO Claude Nederovique. "They live like Parisians. They can really participate in life, [which is] a completely different experience [from a hotel]."

Nederovique saw the number of people requesting his service double last year. 90% of his clientele come from the U.S., and most rent from one week to one month, though some stay as long as three months.

Handbag Heaven
Even those who just want to dress like a socialite, but can't bring themselves to part with $1,200 for a Gucci handbag, can do it affordably with Bag Borrow or Steal, a site that lends customers high-end bags and jewelry from designers like Chanel, Versace and Dior, for a weekly or monthly fee.

"Borrowing is really about freedom, access and convenience," says Lynn Ridenour, senior vice president of marketing. "It gives [customers] greater access to a vast inventory of luxury accessories and the opportunity to indulge in more, more often."

Is there a downside? Of course: In the end, you do have to give it all back.

Still, says Pedraza, "There's no question that [the trend of temporary use] will grow. It is such a great convenience where you can buy the experience, not the depreciating assets.

Source @ Forbes

1 comment:

allen said...

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