Save. Spend. Splurge.

The Homeless Billionaire – Minimalist Inspiration: Nicolas Berggruen

Nicolas Berggruen is worth $2.2 billion and is a minimalist at heart. He basically lives out of hotels, doesn’t own a fancy home, a car, or even a watch.



As Berggruen’s wealth grew, however, he became disillusioned with what it could buy.

“I felt I was owned by possessions,” Berggruen says.


What he does own, is a private jet which he uses to go through different countries, living and working where he needs to be at the moment.

It goes without saying that he also doesn’t accumulate paintings, or anything that rich people tend to own:

His somewhat limited wardrobe is now scattered across the world, stored at his favorite hotels.

He loaned his art collection to museums—a move that left him free to drift from one city to the next aboard his private jet, the one item he deems too “practical” to discard.

You can read a lot more about him here!

Hmm I think his private jet counts as a home. An expensive, gas-guzzling mobile home (truly mobile), but a home nonetheless. He probably stores his electronics there, which is what I’d do.

This is interesting to me because it’s what I do.

We aren’t billionaires, but we live out of hotels, and don’t really have an apartment or a home, both of which are challenging in terms of having an address, but we’ve managed to figure out a system that keeps things as stable as possible.

We travel to different cities, live where we need to be (based on who is working), and commute as little as we can as consultants.

Of course, we too are childless (Berggruen is childless and has never been married), but we are planning on having children, so this lifestyle will have to be altered slightly, although not by much.

We just won’t accumulate all the junk that comes with having a child.

It’s pretty cool to read about someone who is fairly high-profile, doing the same thing, which a lot of people can either find cool or weird.

It is also a lot easier to be such a nomadic minimalist when you have tons of money (him more than us), but it doesn’t mean that all minimalists are rich, either.

It’s a lifestyle choice that has nothing to do with money, which is where people get confused I think, when trying to understand what it’s all about.

It is about accumulating less and having the perfect amount of stuff, not more, but the amount you decide to spend, is up to you.


  • Jean

    They draw minimalist line when it comes to their worth: those who are rich.
    Notice how he doesn’t part with his billions.
    They’re an annoying cliche.

  • Greg Danel

    Yea all I need is two million to retire large and get my kids master degrees so if you know any billionaires that want to give a miracle give em my email and change our lives their lives forever

  • Martin

    This “nomadic” life style is appealing, but I still need something more to feel and be happy and that is a home. However, it can be a private jet. But my plans are to get financially independent and then start traveling and living and moving place to place. But one day you won’t be able to do it anymore (you get old, sick, and so on) and that would be a time to settle down again. I guess.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Which is exactly why I have a plan to save money, move to somewhere warm for my old bones and buy a small place in the middle of a small city to live. By that time I should be craving peace and quiet, but still be close enough to go by train to visit the main cities if I want to.

  • SarahN

    Ah, I think I found the answer to a question I commented a little earlier today – you live in hotels. I think (from my frame of reference) that hotels are so expensive, compared to renting. I gather you don’t agree?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      It is not that I don’t agree, it is that I don’t have a choice.

      Apartments here rent by the year, period. You can’t pick something for a shorter period of time.

      I worked out the numbers and it is about the same cost to me in the end, but I get the convenience of a hotel and amenities.

      My projects are generally 3 months to 9 months on average and in different cities, so staying in a hotel is more economical if I don’t have to constantly travel back to the other city where I leased an empty apartment to store my stuff.

  • Pauline

    If I was worth $2.2 billion I think I would own a suite in a service apartment building that would feel more personal than a hotel, and this in 3-4 locations, Paris, NY, somewhere sunny, another place where I need to do business… Having your clothes scattered all around doesn’t seem really fun. Of course he can store everything in the jet. That I think I would rent when needed and fly first the rest of the time. I can’t imagine how pricey it is to keep a staff ready to go at any time and the parking, etc.
    Glad you got rid of disqus!

    • saverspender

      I was thinking that you could just store everything in a jet. A nice mobile home…

      I AM SO HAPPY Disqus is gone too. I really wanted it to work out but it has annoyed me for far too long. 🙂

  • MelD

    I’ve always liked the concept of the “millionaire next door”, the idea of being smart enough to look out for yourself and your family but not show off with it. I really don’t care what watch you wear, what car you drive or what fancy house you live in, nor what designer made your furniture or whether you jet around to play golf… it’s nice to afford what you’d like to have/do and appreciate, and forget the rest!
    Apparently, that is surprisingly hard for a lot of people…

    (not mentioning those who show off things they can’t really afford LOL!)

    • saverspender

      Me too. I think that’s why it resonates so strongly with me.

      I’m totally fine with people enjoying and spending their money, buying designers they truly love the aesthetic of, but not when they buy designers JUST BECAUSE it costs a lot of money for something.

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