Some hobbies cost nothing. Some cost a few dollars. Yet others cost upwards of several thousand dollars. If you’re either seriously wealthy or seriously passionate about your favorite pastime, there’s a host of activities out there to keep you thoroughly entertained and thoroughly broke. Whether it’s rubbing shoulders with the gentry at a polo match, swimming with the fishes in the deep blue seas, of jumping headfirst out of an airplane, the following 20 seriously expensive hobbies are sure to be a thrill (for your bank, if not for you).
20. Country Clubbing
If you want to rub shoulders with the elite, you’ll find few better places to do it than at a Country Club. As a source of relaxation, it’s up there with the best. As a drain on your finances, it’s not quite the best, but it’s pretty darn close. Depending on the type of club you frequent, you can expect to pay anything between $5000 to $250,000 per year.
Traditionally the favorite pastime of royals, polo’s appeal has now extended to the proletariat. If you’ve got a few thousand dollars hanging around gathering dust, why not grab yourself a horse, a mallet, a small hard ball and take yourself and your wealth over to the polo club: at just $20,000 for the horse and around $8,000 a year in club membership fees, it’s a great way showing the world just how big your wallet is.
18. Hot Air Ballooning
What could be more blissful than gliding through the clouds on a hot air balloon? For those that choose to push the envelope and turn a once in a lifetime experience into a regular occurrence, that blissful experience comes with a hefty price tag. With the average cost of a balloon coming in at around $45,000 and the cost of flight school averaging $3,500, this is a hobby for the wealthy only.
Let’s be clear- when we say that poker is one of the most expensive hobbies in the world, we aren’t referring to the odd game around the table with your friends on a Saturday night. We’re taking the kind of high-end poker that can make you a millionaire or a pauper in one game flat. Of course, if you come away the winner, poker is probably the least expensive hobby of all. Come away the loser, and you could lose a lot more than you bargained on.
Like poker, Blackjack has the potential to either inflate your bank account by thousands or strip it to the bare bones. Like all card games of this kind, the more money you put in, the more you stand to win back. Just bear in mind that unless your exceptionally lucky, it’s highly unlikely your little gambling hobby will end up returning more than you wager.
15. Mountain Climbing
Of course, mountain climbing doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest ways to spend a day without parting without so much as a dime. The problem (or at least the expense) starts to come when you turn from amateur hill botherer to committed mountaineer. The cost of a guide, climbing permits, and appropriate clothing and safety equipment is expensive enough in itself; add to that the cost of traveling to the world’s most exciting peaks, and you could easily spend at least $170,000 without even realizing it.
14. Scuba Diving
Turn scuba diving into anything more than the occasional holiday treat, and you may need to take out that 2nd credit card sooner than you thought. While exploring the life beneath the waves is as simple as donning a pair of googles and dunking your head under the water for some people, for true enthusiasts, it’s a whole lot more. Expect to pay around $500 for the proper equipment, $300 for certification, and a few thousand every time you need to make the trip to somewhere worth spending several hours underwater.
13. RC Airplanes
Amazing though it sounds to be able to build your own aircraft and then fly it by remote control, this is one hobby where the expenses soon start to rack up. Yes, you’ll be overcoming all kinds of challenges and demonstrating your inner creativity for all to see, but impersonating the Wright brothers comes at a cost. Buy a ready-built RC aircraft and you can get away with spending as little as $100-$200; build your own, and you’re looking at a minimum spend of $700 just for the basic parts. The more adventurous you get with your builds, the higher the costs rise, with some of the larger, higher-end planes costing several thousand dollars to make.
12. Sky Diving
Granted, the cost of a single skydive isn’t going to break the bank. If, on the other hand, you’re the kind of adrenaline junkie for whom jumping out of an airplane is much more than a once in a lifetime experience, you might find the costs soon start to rack up. With the average skydive costing around $150 per go, that’s a lot of money if you plan on making it a regular event. Add to that the fact that each skydive lasts on average just one minute (sometimes even less), and that $150 breaks down to $2.50 per second, giving it one of the most expensive cost-to-time ratios of any of our entries.
If you’re too lazy to walk, too rich to drive your own car, or just really, really like horses, you may want to invest in the $5000-$100,000 it takes to buy, feed, care for, shelter, and ride a pony. On the plus side, enter some competitions and you might win a really neat rosette.
10. Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing may seem an odd addition to our list (after all, what could be so expensive about donning a pair of high heels and kicking it up on the dance floor?), but if you want to turn an occasional spin around the floor into something a little more high end, it’s going to cost you. Ballroom dancing isn’t just about grabbing someone’s hand and trotting them around the room, it’s an intense, incredibly demanding sport that demands thorough, extensive training. If you want to get as good as the DWTS regulars, you can expect to pay around $50-200 per lesson with a private dance teacher, and another $30,000 to $100,000 if you want to test your skills on a competitive level. Add to that the cost of the shoes, the sequins, and the obligatory buckets of fake tan, and the costs soon start to mount up.
9. Flying a Plane
What could be more freeing than jumping in a plane and setting course for wherever your imagination takes you? No traffic jams, no squabbling kids in the backstreet, no road rage… blissful, right? Well, it would be if it didn’t come with the kind of price tag that makes the cost of keeping a car on the road seem like peanuts. Factor in the cost of basic lessons (which can add up to around $7000), and the cost of the plane itself (which can be as little as $15,000 or as much as $200,000), and you’re looking at an incredibly expensive means of getting around.
8. Car Racing
For adrenaline junkies, nothing quite beats the thrill of racing around a track in a car that’s clearly been designed for speed, not comfort. While it may get your heart pumping, the bill is likely to send your blood pressure soaring too: if you want to invest in a racing car with all the appropriate safety equipment and add-ons, you can expect to spend anything between $10,000 to $100,000. Add to that the cost of insurance (which can go as high as $566.34 per month), and you’re looking at one very expensive pastime indeed.
7. World Travel
Few things can expand the mind quite like travel, but few things are as likely to deplete your bank account quite so quickly either. If you’re aiming for anything lengthier or more luxurious than 2 weeks interrailing around Europe, you can bank on spending a considerable amount of your savings on flights, hotels, meals, and other expenditures. Take a year-long sabbatical to really see the world, and you could easily spend $30,000 or more without even realizing it.
6. Exotic Pets
You don’t have to be Michael Jackson to own an exotic pet these days. If you’re rich, flamboyant, and, depending on how you look at it, either a huge lover of animals or a massive fan of locking them up in unnatural environments, you’re going to want to advertise your extreme wealth and distinctive style with a pet that’s just as unique as you. Nick Cage, for example, owns a pet octopus that set him back a massive $150,000. Kirsty Alley, meanwhile, has two pet lemurs and 2 staff members prepared to look after them for the bargain price of $40,000-$50,000 each per year.
5. Motor Gliding
Fancy owning your own motor glider? Well, who doesn’t? Unfortuntaly, few of us can afford the pleasure of whizzing through the skies in our own little glider. For those that can, it’s a hobby that will set them back around half a million bucks.
4. Vintage Car Collecting
What man of a certain age doesn’t dream of owning a collection of vintage cars? While some may contend themselves with just the one vintage beauty, it seems to be one of those things where one is just never enough. Like tattoos, you may start with one, but by the end of the year, you have more than you thought possible. Unfortunately, vintage cars tend to be slightly more expensive than tattoos (with Hot Cars reporting the most expensive being 79-year-old Rodger Dudding’s $55 million collection of 50 vehicles), so unless you want to have a stern letter from the bank turning up on your doorstep, you may want to go easy.
3. Cigarette Boat Racing
It may be a thrill a minute, but cigarette boat racing is also seriously expensive. In 2018, Mercedes Benz unveiled its latest cigarette racing boat: a super powerful beast worth a cool $2 million. While not all boats are going to cost you this much, you can expect to pay around $1.2 million on average for the luxury of ownership. Add to that the cost of insurance, storage, and lessons, and you’ll not be left with much change from that $2 million.
2. Art Collecting
Art Collecting is really what you make of it. If you content yourself with collecting homespun projects from thrift stores and Etsy, you can probably build up quite the collection without denting your bank balance too much. Once you start looking at the more conventionally desirable pieces, however, that cost can rise exponentially. According to Highsnobiety, Ezra and David Nahmad’s art collection is the priciest in the world, coming in at a colossal $3 billion. Music mogul David Geffen’s is almost as expensive at $2.3 billion. While most people can collect art without parting with quite so much money as that, it’s still far from a low-cost pastime.
1. Yacht Racing
It’ll come as little surprise to most to see yacht racing rank so highly on our list. Nothing screams wealth quite like a yacht, and nothing marks someone out as a playboy/ girl quite so quickly as the ability to race them (for the sake of balance, there are, of course, a lot of perfectly normal people who also like to race yacht. I’ve never met one myself, but I’ve been assured they do exist). Putting together a yacht that’s fit to race will set the average billionaire back around $8-10 million. Of course, there’s a good chance that one of those will end up crashing, so most will go to the effort of building two, just in case. Add to that the cost of insurance, fuel and a jazzy nautical sweater, and this is clearly one hobby that more than deserves its place at number 1 on our list of the world’s most expensive hobbies.