I'm glad I live in Eugene, Oregon -- easier to resist the hedonic treadmill in this eco-hippy college town :-)
In Silicon Valley, millionaires don't feel rich (check out the video as well).
Living modestly, despite a nice nest egg (this guy is successfully resisting the hedonic treadmill).
Making do, with $10 million (keeping up with the Joneses in the valley -- one of the rare times a journalist accurately describes the "carrying costs" of the wealthy lifestyle; I guess he had help).
Angry commentary from Metafilter, and more from Dave Winer.
...Silicon Valley is thick with those who might be called working-class millionaires — nose-to-the-grindstone people like Mr. Steger who, much to their surprise, are still working as hard as ever even as they find themselves among the fortunate few. Their lives are rich with opportunity; they generally enjoy their jobs. They are amply cushioned against the anxieties and jolts that worry a vast majority of people living paycheck to paycheck.
But many such accomplished and ambitious members of the digital elite still do not think of themselves as particularly fortunate, in part because they are surrounded by people with more wealth — often a lot more.
When chief executives are routinely paid tens of millions of dollars a year and a hedge fund manager can collect $1 billion annually, those with a few million dollars often see their accumulated wealth as puny, a reflection of their modest status in the new Gilded Age, when hundreds of thousands of people have accumulated much vaster fortunes.
“Everyone around here looks at the people above them,” said Gary Kremen, the 43-year-old founder of Match.com, a popular online dating service. “It’s just like Wall Street, where there are all these financial guys worth $7 million wondering what’s so special about them when there are all these guys worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Mr. Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million. That puts him firmly in the top half of 1 percent among Americans, according to wealth data from the Federal Reserve, but barely in the top echelons in affluent towns like Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. So he logs 60- to 80-hour workweeks because, he said, he does not think he has nearly enough money to ease up.
“You’re nobody here at $10 million,” Mr. Kremen said earnestly over a glass of pinot noir at an upscale wine bar here.
...A few even choose to jump off the golden treadmill.
That is what Mark Gage, 51, an engineer, and his wife, Meredith, did when they left the Bay Area in 2005 with $3 million or so in assets. They bought a house in Bend, Ore. — “a bigger, much nicer home with dramatic views” — and now Mr. Gage works only when the perfect consulting job presents itself.
Yet the same drive that earned so many of the engineers and entrepreneurs who live here their fortunes keeps them tied to the Valley, which resembles nothing so much as a sprawling post-war suburb, though one whose roadways are thick with cars costing in the six figures.