How the world’s richest people spend their free time

Hobbies are a great way of meeting new people with similar interests. For the ultra-wealthy, joining the right golf clubs or bidding on the right art is the best social capital to gain—and the most popular way to spend time.

Some of America’s richest are so-called “centi-millionaires”—typically founders or CEOs of large, successful companies whose wealth exceeds $100 million, according to a new report on centi-millionaires by Henley & Partners, a London-based investment migration consultancy. Others are smart investors or just heirs to their parents’ fortunes. There are only about 25,500 of them in the world, and almost 40% of them live in the U.S. Many own private jets and superyachts, outsource their asset management to a private family office, and split the year between their two or three or four vacation homes. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people in this category don’t tend to frequent their local movie theater chains (they have home theaters), gyms (there’s one in the penthouse), or fast-casual restaurants (there’s a chef for that). Instead, they tend to spend most of their free time on the expensive hobbies that put them in the company of their rarified peers.

While it’s hard to classify such a large and diverse group, the report drew on data from global intelligence firm New World Wealth (NWW) to determine where you might find a centi-millionaire in the wild. NWW tracks the movements and spending habits of the world’s wealthiest people. It found the following to be the top pursuits centi-millionaires took part in in 2022:

  1. Golf
  2. Art collecting
  3. Cycling and mountain biking
  4. Skiing 
  5. Horse riding
  6. Fishing
  7. Classic car collecting
  8. Hunting
  9. Yachting and sailing
  10. Watch collecting

Cycling, classic car collecting, and fishing—particularly fly-fishing in places like Montana and Wyoming—have ballooned in popularity since NWW first began collecting research in 2013, the report notes.

Taking part in most outdoor-related pursuits, like golf and horseback riding, requires centi-millionaires to travel beyond city limits. Most centi-millionaires live in New York, followed by the San Francisco Bay Area, London, Los Angeles, and Beijing.

Lucky for those city dwellers looking to decorate their mansion’s walls, most high-end art auctions, such as those at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, take place in New York and London. But when they’re ready to pack up and go, the biggest centi-millionaire hotspots are the Hamptons, Palm Beach, and the French Riviera.

While individual habits and preferences differ, centi-millionaires’ number one goal is always to simply have more options than the regular joe. 

“The super-rich are motivated by the pursuit of freedom and independence,” Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, one of the report authors wrote. “They want to decide for themselves whether to work, what work to do, when to work, where to work, and with whom they work.”

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