CEOs have the money to spend on lavish lifestyles and large homes. Oprah rests her head in a 23,000-square-foot mansion. Bill Gates dreams up philanthropic projects in his 50,000-square-foot estate in Medina, Washington. Michael Dell lives in a 33,000-square-foot estate in Austin, Texas.
But not every CEO subscribes to the "more is better" philosophy. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh takes a different approach, opting to live in a 240-square-foot trailer home in downtown Las Vegas. His monthly rent comes to a grand total of $950.
Hsieh, whose fortune totals around $840 million, could afford more luxurious accommodations and has lived in about 10 different homes throughout his life, but this one is definitely his favorite. When he gave ABC the grand tour, he pointed out amenities like the refrigerator, shower, bathroom, workspace and sitting areas that convert into beds. Hardly the swimming pool, helicopter pad and tennis courts one might imagine for a successful CEO.
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"I love it at night here," Hsieh told ABC. "There's campfires going. All these lights … sometimes musicians playing music, just jamming together, people cooking. I really like the unpredictability and randomness of it."
The CEO's trailer sits next to 20 other Airstream trailers and 10 Tumbleweed houses, making it a tiny living community. In addition to his human neighbors, there are also some backyard chickens and a free-roaming alpaca.
Hsieh's representative told Next Shark about the community, "It really is an exciting concept, which is exactly what he wanted. With the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, Tony wanted to create a simple unique experience in the middle of the city that really had the family feeling downtown. It's like its own little community within the trailer park where everyone does what they can to make it a great place. They have washing machines, some animals, a kitchen and even a giant movie screen. Every night is like a giant family gathering that brings out the best in everyone."
Anyone who wants to learn about tiny living and Hsieh's experience can find pearls of wisdom on his Twitter feed where the he advocates for spending money on vacations instead of things, or prioritizing time over making money.
He also wrote a book called, "Delivering Happiness" about how he worked to create a culture of happiness at Zappos. "Most people are interested in making more money because they believe it will enable them to be happier somehow, because they believe money will give them more freedom, less stress, more free time, etc.," writes Hsieh. "If happiness is the ultimate goal, then it seems to make sense to focus on happiness. Also, plenty of studies show that more engaged employees are more productive, and one of the best predictors of employee engagement are the number of friends that they have at work, or whether they have a best friend at work, which all leads back to the importance of company culture and employee happiness."
Tiny living, valuing experiences over stuff and creating a delightful working environment are obviously a big part of Hsieh's happiness recipe. And because his home is just a few blocks from work, between his square footage and his commute, the CEO's carbon footprint is likely smaller than many American families.
The best part of all this is that you don't need to be worth $840 million to emulate his lifestyle.