A woman who studied 600 millionaires discovered that most of the superrich have surprisingly affordable homes. Here’s what some of those look like.

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Tony Hsieh, the multimillionaire CEO of Zappos, lives in a trailer park he created. Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The key to building wealth? Living in a home you can easily afford.

That’s according to Sarah Stanley Fallaw, the director of research for the Affluent Market Institute. She’s an author of “The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth,” in which she surveyed more than 600 millionaires in America.

She found that no factor plays as big a role in accumulating money as where you choose to live. Most of the millionaires she studied had never purchased a home that cost more than triple their annual income. Even some high-profile, ultra-rich people – from Mark Zuckerberg to Serena Williams – have purchased homes well below their means.

To compile the list below, we compared each person’s net worth with the cost of their homes. We didn’t have the data to determine their net worth at the time of purchase, so we adjusted the house purchase price for inflation using an inflation calculator to compare that with their net worth today.

For example, the billionaire investor Warren Buffett bought his home in 1958 for $US31,500. Adjusted for inflation, that’s equivalent to $US274,357 in today’s dollars, or just 0.0003% of his $US82.1 billion net worth.

Everyone on this list owns a home that cost less than 5% of their net worth.


Sarah Stanley Fallaw, the director of research for the Affluent Market Institute, studied more than 600 millionaires for her book, “The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth.”

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Source: “The Next Millionaire Next Door


She found that your neighbourhood plays a huge role in how much you save and spend.

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Source: “The Next Millionaire Next Door


If you live in a pricey home in an affluent neighbourhood, you’re more likely to mirror your neighbour’s consumption habits and less likely to accumulate wealth over time.

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Source: “The Next Millionaire Next Door


She found that most millionaires live in a home they can easily afford, allowing them to save more money.

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Source: “The Next Millionaire Next Door


Consider Warren Buffett, who lives in a modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he bought in 1958 for $US31,500, or $US274,357 in today’s dollars.

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Source: Business Insider


That’s 0.0003% of his $US82.1 billion net worth.

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Source: Forbes


As of 2017, the home was worth an estimated $US652,619. He called it the “third-best investment” he’s ever made.

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Source: Business Insider


It’s 6,570 square feet, with five bedrooms and 2-1/2 bathrooms.

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Source: Business Insider


It’s also guarded by fences and security cameras.

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Source: Business Insider


Meanwhile, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh lives in a Las Vegas trailer park called “Llamapolis” that he created in 2014 as part of his efforts to revitalize the city.

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Source: Business Insider


Llamapolis, which was inspired by the Burning Man festival, is home to 30 Airstream trailers and tiny houses.

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Source: Business Insider


The cost of Airstream trailers ranges from $US25,900 to $US139,900. The most expensive option — $US148,750, adjusted for inflation — is just 0.02% of Hsieh’s $US840 million net worth.

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Source: Wired, Washington Post


Aptly named, Llamapolis is also home to Hsieh’s pet alpacas, which (usually) live in a pen.

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Source: Business Insider


Hsieh previously told Business Insider his favourite aspect of living in the park was impromptu interactions with his neighbours.

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Source: Business Insider


Hseih said he founded Llamapolis “because I wanted to maximise serendipity and randomness in my life.”

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Source: Business Insider


Mark Zuckerberg lives in a home equal to 0.01% of his wealth. He paid $US7 million for a house in Palo Alto in 2011, equivalent to $US7.8 million today. While that’s not an outright modest number, it is modest for a man worth $US71.1 billion.

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Source: Forbes, Business Insider


It comes with a big backyard and a pool …

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Source: Business Insider


… and lush, detailed landscaping.

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Source: Business Insider


Inside, the house has tons of windows for sunlight …

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Source: Business Insider


… a bathroom with a tub and separate sinks …

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Source: Business Insider


… and a spacious kitchen.

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Source: Business Insider


Evan Spiegel also lives in California. He purchased the Los Angeles house he shares with Miranda Kerr, his wife, in 2016 for $US12 million, or $US12.6 million adjusted for inflation. That’s 0.57% of his $US2.2 billion net worth.

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Source: Business Insider, Forbes


The house used to belong to Harrison Ford.

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Source: Business Insider


At 7,164 square feet, the house has an open floor plan with plenty of sunshine …

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Source: Business Insider


… a dining room, a library with dark-grey wood …

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Source: Business Insider


… and a kitchen with marble accents.

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Source: Business Insider


The backyard overlooks the city.

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Source: Business Insider


Meanwhile, over in Beverly Hills is Serena Williams’ home that she bought in 2017 for $US6.7 million, or $US6.9 million in today’s dollars, only 3.8% of her reported $US180 million net worth.

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Source: Business Insider, Celebrity Net Worth


The 6,000-square-foot, three-story Spanish-style residence sits on a quarter-acre lot in a gated community.

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Source: Business Insider


It has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a light and airy feel.

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Source: Business Insider


The floors are brushed oak, and the kitchen — which opens out onto a veranda — has marble countertops.

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Source: Business Insider


There’s also a lower-level bonus room, complete with a glass-front wine cellar.

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Source: Business Insider


Outside, the grassy backyard has a built-in grilling station and a swimming pool.

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Source: Business Insider


Williams isn’t the only sports star living in a relatively affordable home. Shaquille O’Neal’s $US21.9 million Florida home, which sits on 700 feet of lakefront property in a gated Orlando community, was put on the market in 2018.

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Source: Business Insider


He bought the house in 1993 for a little less than $US4 million, or $US6.9 million in today’s dollars. That’s 1.7% of his $US400 million net worth.

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Source: Business Insider, NBC Sports


The home has 12 bedrooms spread across 35,000 square feet.

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Source: Business Insider


The entryway features a curved double grand staircase and polished marble floors, leading into the 1,170-square-foot great room.

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Source: Business Insider


The master suite has a spacious walk-in closet, a mirrored wall, a gilded ceiling, and expansive views of the lake.

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Source: Business Insider


O’Neal’s home also has many additional rooms, like a recording studio, a 17-car garage, a cigar bar and lounge, a home theatre, and, of course, an indoor basketball court.

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Source: Business Insider


The outside is just as impressive, with a 95-foot-long, 15-foot-deep swimming pool and waterfall, space for barbecuing, and a cabana.

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Source: Business Insider