The Median Household Income in the United States is $51,371. A step higher the Ipsos Affluent Survey identifies some 59 million “affluent” Americans in its annual research, defined as households that make at least $100,000 per year. The Median income for these households was approximately $150,000 per year – before taxes, and of course expenses such as mortgages, insurance, medical costs, car payments, electricity, telephone, cable, on and on and on. In fact a Washington Post study of households with a $250,000 income in affluent suburbs in New York, Washington D.C., Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago found a total budget for vacations of $4,000 could be afforded– and the New York household would actually need $280,000 to just break even. The WaPo research didn’t allow for luxury cars or designer fashion by the way.
Needless to say, F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he said “The rich are different from you and me.” I’m not sure who first said, “It’s expensive being rich,” but recently I had the chance to see the costs of chartering a 175-foot yacht. That’s in addition to the weekly $200,000 charter.
If you get antsy having a hotel swipe your credit card and block money to ensure you have the wherewithal to settle up when you check out, take a deep breath. In the case of Yacht XYZ the client sent in advance $66,000 to have on account. Yes, that is after paying the aforementioned $200,000 fee for a weekly charter.
Where does it go?
There were three separate deductions from the account to cover fuel for $2,793, 2,793 and a further $4,647. Towards the end there was another $11,172 to take into account further usage on the way back. Standard tip for a private yacht gas attendant seems to run $25. There was $610 for Whole Foods followed by $407 at Williams Sonoma. Two days later there was another $774 from Whole Foods again. There was $869 for flowers and $14,083 for “beverages.”
Customs arriving in The Bahamas ran $380, there was $120 to dispose of garbage, there was $7,655 to Island Purveyors which sells food and flowers, Hawk’s Nest Marina earned $2,397 for tender services. There was another $8,582 for more provisions from Island Purveyors several days later. Some $1,100 was paid to a hotel visiting Rum Bay for accommodations that could be used as a land-based day room. Some $1,390 was charged for “Breakage” listed as “guest sheets.” The customer added another $10,000 to his account and $5,482 was dispersed to a shore agent for some land-based expeditions. Another $976 went to Island Concierge for services. Other charges for “provisioning” came in at $5,876 and $6,574. There were countless other charges from $30 to $1,500.
As a comparison, the average American homeowner pays about $1,061 per month on their mortgage.
According to the yacht owner’s representative who shared the figures with me these charges are only what goes through the ship’s account. Dining and shopping in the places visited are generally paid directly by the customer so there is no way of knowing. However a single shopping trip can sometimes run as much as everything listed above, including the charter price.