Why I Love Being Poor

“Jen, I could seriously hook you up in a heartbeat,” says my father. “Why the hell wouldn’t you want to work on Wall Street?!”

Like everybody else who has ever existed, I would love to dine with millionaires on two-hour lunches, drive a red Ferrari, and wear $2,000 shoes… from nine to five, Monday through Friday. As Jordan Belfort so kindly pointed out in The Wolf of Wall Street, “I’ve been a rich man and a poor man, and I choose rich every time.” I, too, have been a rich woman and a poor one (although not quite as rich as Belfort) and although I relish extensive shopping trips and boat outings, there is one occupation that I feel is better off experienced as a nomadic, dirty being – and that is of a traveler.


I’ve stayed in fancy chain hotels in Budapest and hairy hostels in Milan. Although I kind of remember laying in that Budapest Marriott and watching some Disney movie on TV, I can vividly recall the off-green Italian hostel with pubic hairs littered on the itchy twin bed next to the barred window. I remember sitting up at night, wrapped in my sweats, trying not to touch anything as I listened to the drunken tourists stumbling home from outside. I remember spending the day being dirty, wandering Milan with a backpack strapped on wondering where I could pee. At the chance of sounding like your mom, being a poor traveler makes you interesting, resourceful, and perhaps most appealing, the most captivating storyteller on this side of the Atlantic. 

I’ve purchased overpriced designer dresses in Madrid and lost my shoes at the airport. That navy blue dress still sits like-new in my closet from four years ago, a little too European and expensive for anything casual here in the States. However, my $20 brown boots from Kohl’s ventured Italy years later, stomping the cobblestone streets during the night many times over before eventually falling to pieces at the Amsterdam Shiphol Airport. It’s the cheap items that become priceless; living out their days being worn and being useful before dying a noble death most likely outside of the confines of your closet.

I’ve met rich Columbians with closets as big as my room and dirty Australians who spend their days wandering shirtless. When we think of the rich and powerful, our minds default to thinking of their exciting lives jet setting the world, eating the finest food, and rubbing elbows with the coolest people. In reality, it’s the nomad travelers that do this without ever having to fake one sentiment. I’ve met countless backpackers who spend their days with smiles on their faces picking fruit, bar tending, and food running as they see countries that others don’t even consider as destinations. It’s these behind-the-scenes people that live the real adventures, not the ones who have never had to leave their comfort zone.

I’ve eaten “top-notch” food at the finest restaurants in the world and home-cooked stews on grandmother’s porches. It’s undeniable that $100 steaks and the rarest wines aren’t scrumptious, but when you leave, what else do you have to say but Wow that was a great steak but now I’m out $200? When I think back to my most memorable meals, I don’t think of these gourmet pastas at tourist spots but instead I remember the nights I spent on Norwegian porches sampling home-cooked elk and whale with a view of the fjords below. Food needs a story – something you won’t find for many restaurants in the guidebook.

Being rich is great when you’re a shopper, great when you’re a businessperson, and great when you’re trying to impress the flavor of the month. But when that time comes around when it’s my turn to see the world once again, I prefer to revert back to the filthy nomad I am at heart.

The Priciest Places in the World

When you’re a kid, you just know you’re gonna be loaded. You’re not really sure how or why, and you certainly haven’t considered that your only real gift is being able to watch Spongebob marathons for ten hours straight, but it doesn’t matter because you’re clearly destined for filthy money.

Well, you’re not. Sorry. But don’t be sad! Just pretend that you live in one of these badass mansions instead.

1. Antilla of Mumbai, India 

This oddly shaped 1 billion dollar tower boasts 27 floors owned by Mukesh Ambani, the fifth richest man in the world and Chairman, Managing Director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited, a Fortune Global 500 company and India’s second most valuable company by market value. At 570 feet high, the building has a gym and lounge on each floor, an indoor and outdoor bar, and rooms for the 600 people on staff.


2. Villa Leopolda of the French Riviera 

Built in 1902 by King Leopold II of Belgium, the extravagant home now houses the Safra family, bought by banker Edmond Safra. With 11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, a bowling alley, multiple kitchens, and movie theater, it’s $506 million price tag is anything but shocking.


3. The Penthouse of London, England 

Located in the residential district of London, Number One Hyde Park is the most expensive apartment in the world valued at $200 million. Sporting wine tasting rooms and a spa, it is also extremely secure with bulletproof windows and a secret tunnel to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.


4. Fairfield Pond in the Hamptons, New York 

Considered the largest residential complex in all of America, the $170 million property is owned by junk bond billionaire Ira Rennert. Over 63 acres, it boasts 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, sports courts, a bowling alley, and a $150,000 hot tub over 100,000 square feet.


5. Heart Castle in San Simeon, California 

This $165 million mansion was constructed for newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst including 29 bedrooms, 3 pools, a club, and a movie theater. Following Hearst’s death in 1951, in 1957, the Heart Corporation donated the property to the state of California where it is now maintained as a state historic park.