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How Much It Costs to Live the Good Life

How Much It Costs to Live the Good Life

How much does it cost to live large? Anyone who has fantasized about being rich has likely pondered that question. If you ever have wondered exactly how much you need to live like you're loaded -- or at least dip your toes into the waters of the wealthy -- here are some real-life scenarios you might want to budget for.

Traveling around the world. For such an epic journey, $150,000 is a good guess. But as the expression goes -- and it's never been more appropriate than in this instance -- your mileage may vary.

After all, there are numerous itineraries you could choose. Would you visit every country in the world? Probably not. A world cruise? Maybe you just want to fly around the planet, and check it off your bucket list.

The cost to travel the world is hard to pin down, but Bill Bangert, now a marketing writer in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his wife, Annie, did it for $150,000.

"That covered everything from lodging to transportation to immunizations, visas, extra pages in our passports, et cetera," Bangert says.

Annie was diagnosed with a mild form of breast cancer, and after she recovered in 2012, the couple decided to quit their jobs and take their then 10-year-old twins on a trip around the world. They were gone three weeks shy of a year, visiting 30 countries, including Fiji, Cambodia, China, India, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Spain, France, Scotland, Austria, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Greece and Qatar.

[See: 11 Easy Ways to Slash Travel Costs .]

If you wanted to spend less than $150,000, you might consider a cruise. "A full world cruise on Holland America Line for 2015 -- inside stateroom -- could be as low as $20,000 per person based on double occupancy, or even $17,000 for a single," says Maggie Blehert, a spokeswoman for Cruise Specialists, a Seattle-based luxury travel agency that specializes in world cruises. "Compare that to Crystal Cruises, which only has outside staterooms with windows and balconies, and the lowest rate on a Crystal Cruises world cruise is about $54,000 per person."

If you opt for a world cruise, Blehert says, expect to be gone about four months.

Owning two homes. It would help to earn at least $200,000 a year, but if your homes are in areas that have a low cost of living, you could make less.

Plenty of middle-class people own homes, of course. For instance, some people find that they can't sell the home they moved out of and end up renting it. Those homeowners would probably say they're doing OK, but they aren't exactly living the good life.

At the end of 2013, the median price for a house in the U.S. was $215,000, so generally speaking, you could double that. Of course, whether you can afford to own and maintain two houses depends on where they are located. For instance, HSH.com, a mortgage and consumer loan information website, recently released a report that highlights the stark difference in home prices among cities. For instance, if you live in Los Angeles, you would need a base salary of at least $72,100 to afford the average home, just one of which would cost $423,900. And if you live in St. Louis, you would need a base salary of at least $22,400 to afford the average home, which costs just $128,700.

So if you want to own two homes but your funds are a bit limited, you may fare better in the Midwest.

[Read: What Can You Afford: House, Car or Vacation? ]

Being a wine collector. Budget at least a few thousand dollars if you want to ramp up quickly and have fun with this.

Bob Silver, who owns a public relations firm in Bainbridge, Washington, has been collecting wine for about 15 years and has 800 bottles in his cellar. "It's a very modest collection, to be sure," he says, "but it works for me."

Silver spends about $3,000 to $4,000 a year adding to his collection and guesses he has about $35,000 in inventory, rack costs and storage in his cellar.

He says his basement remains at "nearly ideal conditions for storing wine -- temperatures between 55 to 60 degrees with low humidity."

Those who don't live in a cool climate may have to pony up for a wine cellar. You don't necessarily have to build one, although GenuwineCellars.com has constructed them for as little as $10,000 and for over $1 million. If $10,000 sounds a little steep, you could start with a wine cooler, which is similar to a mini-refrigerator but made especially for wine. Those run anywhere from $200 to $2,000 or more.

Owning a private jet. Several million dollars would help, but you can go lower if you want access and not necessarily ownership.

If you want to purchase a jet, you could hire Charlie Bravo Aviation, an Austin, Texas-based broker between private aviation buyers and sellers, and acquire one for less than $5 million. Or, if you just want an airplane that's available on a 24/7 non-ownership basis, you'd pay $7,500 an hour when you're using it, according to the company's CEO Rene Banglesdorf.

Another option is to spend $124,825 to be part of Sentient Jet's 25-Hour Jet Card program. Cardholders have a year of guaranteed jet availability with as little as 10 hours of notice. You'll receive 25 hours of flight time, so you could do one long trip or a bunch of small trips throughout the year.

Buying an island. If you aren't choosy about location, island ownership is cheaper than you think. Do you have $30,000?

At PrivateIslandsOnline.com, interested buyers can find listings of islands for sale or rent throughout the world. It's a fascinating site, and you'll quickly come to find that purchasing an island is surprisingly accessible even to the middle class.

[Read: What It Means to Be Middle Class Today .]

For instance, you could buy Hemlow Island, a 54-acre piece of land in Nova Scotia, Canada, for about $27,000. If money is no object, Katafanga Island in Fiji, a 225-acre piece of land, will run you $25 million.

But even if you go cheap, you'll still need transportation to your island, and then you'll likely want to build some sort of home, especially if your island's climate is chilly -- as is the case with most of the cheaper islands. If you want to build anything substantial on your island, don't forget to factor in the transportation of your construction crew and materials. And if you're in any path of a hurricane, good luck with insurance.

Still, if you're mainly after bragging rights, this scenario is in reach.

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