You may have seen our show ‘What a dollar gets you around the world’, in which we demonstrated how in countries such as Switzerland a mere buck doesn’t get you very far at all. A tin of cheap dog food, for instance, was the same price in Switzerland as a decent meal from one of Thailand’s famed street side vendors. Today we won’t concentrate on frugality, but on quite the opposite. What can the big spenders of the world get when they decide to throw caution to the wind and outlay some of their savings? What if you were relatively rich in New York City and then emigrated to rural Somalia; just how rich would you be, or feel, then? That’s exactly what we intend to find out in this episode of the Infographics Show, What you can buy for $1,000,000 around the world.
First of all, let’s have a look at where all those millionaires are. A recent report by Global Wealth Databook shows us that the top twenty list of the most millionaires in a country is populated mostly by European nations. The United States has the most millionaires, though, at 13,554,000. Japan is second with 2,826,000 millionaires, and the UK is third with 2,225,000. Germany, France, China, Italy, Canada, Australia and Switzerland are also in the top ten in that order.
If we look at the top of the list, the USA, the median yearly salary in the country is $44,977. But what can a wealthy American get when spending a cool million in his or her country? The Daily Mail reported in 2017 that the cost of an American house in certain parts of the country is so different that in New York City one million will only get you a 750 sq. ft apartment, and in San Francisco you can buy a rather unprepossessing renovated condo. But if you move to Savannah, Georgia, or Ashville, North Carolina, you can live like a king in a country mansion surrounded by manicured gardens. If you are filling those houses with children you’ll need to keep spending as Goldman Sachs reports that raising two children in the USA these days will set you back about one million. As you’ll know from our other shows, healthcare can be quite costly in the U.S., so Americans might hope they’ll never need an intestine transplant as that will cost them 1.1 million dollars. If they’ve taken care of the house, kids and their health, and still have cash to throw around, they might buy one dollar for a million dollars; a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar that is, the first ever dollar minted in US history.
Perhaps your idea of living big is not having a rare coin mounted on your mansion wall, but living like a true free agent with your very own paradise island. Looking at the sales of private islands online, we couldn’t find a place for exactly one million, when looking for paradise islands at least. The closest to a million was a 945,000 dollar private island in Belize. The 2.5 acre island, called Sunset Caye, is located 7 miles off the coast in the Placencia Peninsula. To be honest, the island isn’t much to look at. If you want a really cool looking private island, you’ll be looking at spending more like 25-50 million dollars. According to Christie’s International Real Estate, in Belize you can buy a luxury home on the mainland for one million. You would only be paying gardeners and cleaners about 10 dollars a day, since that’s the average wage in Belize for this kind of work. With all that money you are saving on local staff, you may as well splurge and get yourself a luxury yacht. With just a mere million, though, you may find you have to buy a fairly old yacht. Right now online you can buy a 2001 Mangusta 10 yacht going for 999,000 dollars. It comes with four staterooms and a big living room, all consisting of the comforts of a luxury home. None of this would be a problem for the richest Belizean alive, China-born Huang Maoru, who is worth about one billion dollars.
If that kind of life is not for you, what about steeping yourself in history and living in an old castle? Well, you could do just that for just over a million dollars in bonnie Scotland. Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland, north west Highlands, was on sale recently for just over one million dollars. Built in 1905, the 40-bedroom home comes replete with huge gardens, feasting halls, game rooms, and just about everything else you’d expect in a British castle. Writing about owning a castle of a similar size, the BBC reported in 2014 that gardening, heating and personnel could cost anywhere from $6,800 to $11,000 a month. If you needed to renovate, the same article said that would cost up to 5,800 dollars per square meter. Fixing things and paying staff would soon take up another million dollars. According to job sites in Scotland, the average cleaner’s wage is just over 22,000 US dollars a year, so you can only imagine how much money you’d be paying to keep your castle dust free. You should also have fine wine when inviting guests to such a grand place. UK auction house Sotheby’s reports that its recent fine and rare wine season sale amounted to 1,059,000 dollars of wine sold. Sotheby’s writes, “The rarity factor of these wines and their impeccable provenance led to an intense bidding competition.” The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was a Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992, sold in 2000 at a Napa Valley charity auction. It was a whopping 500,000 dollars, so for your million you could get drunk enough on two bottles to forget you’d bought them.
With all the wealth in the world, you are still going to age, but could you at least stall this cosmetically if you had the chance? The famous American socialite, Jocelyn Wildenstein, aka Catwoman, is known for her very extensive facial surgeries. There is no exact number online regarding how much each surgery cost her, but it’s thought she has spent in the region of 4 million dollars on surgeries in total. If you do have plans to live forever, you might choose to cryogenically freeze your body so it can be brought back to life in the future when the tech is good enough to do so. The largest facility in the world today is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. It will charge you 200,000 dollars for a full-body freeze, so for a million you could pay for the family. According to the Guardian, there are 300 cryogenically frozen folks in the US, 50 in Russia, and thousands more people in line worldwide.
A recent Global Finance Magazine report on the world’s poorest nations puts this 200,000 dollar price tag at more money than most people in those nations will earn in their entire lives.
According to the website African Vault, Somalia is one of the most impoverished nations in the world, with a GDP Per Capita of only 128.1 dollars. The average net salary is about 202 dollars a month, with about 43 percent of Somalia’s population living below the poverty line. But what if you had a million dollars in Somalia? A Somalian property website has a listing of a six bedroom luxury house in Darusalaam City, Mogadishu, at 114,000 dollars. If you had a million you could buy 9 of those and have some change. The country might be poor, but it’s doing good business in livestock export. For 10-30 thousand dollars, you could buy a large plot of land for farming, and according to a Somalian website if you turn up to a local cattle market you can get your hands on a small goat or sheep for as little as 20 bucks. A million bucks gives you a massive farm in Somalia. It also buys you 50,000 Somali goats. In 2014, a bumper year, Somalia exported 4.6 million sheep and goats, so your order of 50,000 shouldn’t be a problem.
Instead of purchasing thousands of sheep and goats and starting a farm, you could have almost bought one Canadian cow. She’s called Missy and she sold for 1.2 million dollars in 2009. In 2012 this Holstein cow was crowned Canadian cow of the year, which must have made her Danish millionaire owner very happy. Canada, a country often said to have a very high standard of living, as you know is home to a lot of millionaires. 1,117,000 to be precise, at least as of April 2017. According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, right now one million will buy you a renovated four-bedroom, waterfront house in Halifax, but in Vancouver only a “fixer-upper” in the suburbs. The newspaper was probably using Canadian dollars, though, which would be 786,000 US dollars. Head up north to the Yukon and you can spend a night at the Million Dollar Falls Campground, although it’s actually only about 10 US bucks a night for camping. For a million dollars, you could stay there 273.97 years. Just watch out for the Grizzlies, who don’t care if you are rich or poor.
So, what can you get for a million dollars in your country? Or, better yet, if you had a million dollars, where and on what would you spend it? Let us know in the comments!