As a site written by born and raised Beverly Hills natives, we are often asked how real is Bravo’s version? A little nip and tuck, lavish birthdays for dogs and celebrity marriages do happen but that could be in any town …
We break down some of the major hallmarks of life in Beverly Hills and the real cost of it.
From country clubs to private schools to shopping vaults at Neiman Marcus and popular charity groups … We gave some thought to how much Bravo cast fufills the expectations associated with Beverly Hills.
We skipped extremely rich and poor (plenty of both) to give you the status quo of annual costs associated with a typical lifestyle in Beverly Hills.
Let’s first delve into geography …
“You get upset if people think you live below Sunset” — Josh to Cher in Clueless
So, what’s that mean exactly? The flats of Beverly Hills span a square shaped area between Doheny, Whitter Dr, Santa Monica Blvd and Sunset Blvd. The flats have houses with market prices ranging from $3M to $12M. South of Santa Monica Blvd, you have the town of Beverly Hills and then further South you have an area known as South Beverly Drive where you will find lower priced restaurants and stores and smaller homes between 1M and 3M dollars as well as apartments that will continue south past Pico Blvd. Going east of Doheny Dr you have West Hollywood, West of Whittier Dr you have the L.A. Country Club and Holmby Hills, and north of Sunset Blvd you will find the larger homes as you get into the Beverly Hills Hotel area, Coldwater Canyon, Benedict Canyon and Beverly Park. This is also how you get to the valley and if you go far enough you will reach it … as you pass the apex of Beverly Hills on either canyon road, you will notice a dramatically decrease on the size and values of the homes.
A previous article “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills P.O. Box” detailed the locations of each Housewife’s home and only Lisa and Adrienne live in Beverly Hills. The rest live in Malibu, West L.A. and the valley.
Lisa and Adrienne both live in Beverly Park which is located along a ridge running between Benedict Canyon and Franklin Canyon about a half a mile above Sunset Boulevard. Homes in this area can be more much more than the flats or foothills although some regard Beverly Park as ‘nouveau’ by virtue of it’s newness and lack of charm you find in the older Paul Williams style homes closer to town like that of Samuel Goldwyn’s sprawling estate behind the Beverly Hills hotel.
NOW THAT WE HAVE OUR GEOGRAPHY STRAIGHT, HERE ARE THE COST ASSOCIATED WITH LIVING IN IT …
PROPERTY TAX – $30k – $200k per year
If you calculate the math is calculated on a $6 to $10 Million dollar home with 40% down, which is pretty standard in BH — property is 1.25% (which is the the State of California tax all over), the property taxes can be in the $100K range… even upwards of $200K.
Beverly Hills city tax is taken from property tax. BH-ers pay the property tax to L.A. County and L.A. devies the taxes back out to districts, and FYI, Beverly Hills is a municipality (places like Brentwood, Bel-Air, Malibu are disctricts whereas Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood are municipalities).
Municipalities have their own mayors, city councils, police department, schools, fire department and so forth. One of the reasons BH is touted so highly over similar areas such as Bel-Air and the Palisades is because we have the BHPD, the BHFD and BH schools as opposed to the LAPD, LDFD, and LAUSD. If you watch Entourage, you remember Drama tried to seduce a Beverly Hills city official to extend the city limits to include his newly purchased Burton Way apartment.
COUNTRY CLUBS – $25,000
While $25,000 may be the cost of Dana’s sunglasses, that is also the average cost of keeping up a country club membership in Beverly Hills.
Depending on your religion, most BH-ers opt for Hillcrest or L.A. Country Club which traditionally leans towards Jews and Christians respectively. Despite popular opinion, the clubs religious orientations are not so set in stone. The cost of the clubs range about 20k per year (excluding initiation fees, which can run up to $200k). Club food, green’s fee, an Easter egg hunt or bringing 10 family members to a Rosh Hashanah dinner are extra.
If you are a the child of a member, you have the option to begin as a junior member at different age intervals and your dues increase on the intervals. A 36-year old at Hillcrest will get billed $12k for instance while a 45 year old at L.A. Country Club with get billed $20k a year in dues. At Hillcrest the junior memberships intervals are 21, 30, 36, 40 and 45 and at each age your dues go up, you fill out an application and go before the board.
OTHER MEMBERSHIPS – $5,000 – $20,000
LACMA Costume Council is a favorite among BH-ers … there are three tiers of memberships: $3k for the highest level called the Fashion Circle, $1k for Patron and $400 for General Level.
Hollywood Bowl – The exact costs for annual subscriptions of a box (in the Garden Circle up front) vary depending on when you got the subscription, but can go into the tens of thousands as they are certainly prime real estate and sold by brokers/dealers when they become available — most people who own them have been grandfathered in for years and bought subscription decades ago, unless owned by a corporation. Individual tickets are $250-$500 per seat in a ) — and for some shows can go up to $800 or $1000 per seat depending on artists and their caps.
Other popular membership among BH-ers are MOCA (the Curators Circle – the lower level of major memberships — is $1,500 to join), Beverly Hills Women’s Club which is one of the oldest clubs in Los Angeles and has a proper clubhouse NORTH OF SUNSET costs $300 to be a member. More include the West Coast Friends of the Met circle (whose membership also gives you an invitation to buy a ticket to the annual MET Gala), the Founder circle LA Opera, the Music Center, Friends of the Robinson Garden, the Acquisitions committee at LACMA and MOCA, along with Boards at Cedars, USC, UCLA, and so forth.
PRIVATE SCHOOL — $21,8000 to $31,000 per child per year
A good private school in L.A. costs anywhere from $15,000 to 33,000 plus a one time entrance fee, plus the cost of books, retreats, transportation, incidental fees, etc which most grade schools require. Schools like Curtis, The Laurence School, The Center Early Education, and Buckley’s lower school charge anywhere from $21,800-$28,000 for kindergarten alone!
Private high schools in Los Angeles cost between $25k to $30k for somewhere like Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood, Crossroads, or Buckley’s upper school. Other typical L.A. private schools are Archer, Marlborough, Windward, Campbell Hall, Oakwood, and we may have missed one or two others.
This may seem like a lot but is nothing compared to our New York counterparts where they pay 37,000-ish for Dwight, Dalton, Nightingale Bamford and Spence.
Beverly Hills High School which is public, along with it’s lower schools, are generally accepted by many BH-ers.
For young children not in school – a GOOD nanny coming in every day is $25 dollars an hour; double if she stays overnight (for overtime). If you have a solid live-in nanny 6 days a week — that is 8 x 25 + 16 x 50 x 6 days.
BEAUTY — $12,000 to $24,000
It’s not uncommon to get your nails done once a week or more — $1,200 a year for Mani Pedi is about the annual cost. A hair cut can run upwards of $125 and color every couple weeks to once a month can start at $300.
A starting gym membership at Equinox (formerly the Sports Club) in Beverly Hills is $150 a month. A private pilates class or private trainer at Equinox is $120 to $160. Group yoga classes are free. The initiation costs for the highest level, which gives you access to the executive locker room, can be up to $5k.
Your average middle-aged housewife in Beverly Hills spends between 3k – 5k on botox and filler throughout the year and facials (twice a month) are $125 – $225 – Dr. Chiu of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery and Aida Thibiant on Canon are our favorites.
CLOTHES — $500,000 to $1,000,000
A stroll through the private shopping closet at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, which is tucked behind a glass door in the couture section on the 2nd floor, will reveal racks and racks of clothes pull by NM’s private shoppers for various big-time clients. Catherine Bloom runs this room plush with tea service and champagne. Every women gets her name on a rack with clothes the NM private shoppers will pull off the floor for them before the rest of the world can get to them. If you ever feel like Neimans doesn’t get the better stuff, it’s likely because it is all in Ms Bloom’s office.
Saks 5th Avenue has a similar service called the 5th Avenue Club which consists or 5 or 6 personal shoppers who all have closets where they pull and store things for their clients. These closets are located behind a door on the second floor of Saks and also has a living room set-up with a fully functioning bar (at all times).
A 25k to 50k per month shopping budget for clothes is not uncommon – a budget this size will include clothes and shoes, but generally does not include jewelry or fur — which couldn’t drain the entire amount in one trip.
Why so much? Well, an Azzedine Alaïa dress, for instance, runs on average 4-5k. If you are a Beverly Hills housewife, it’s possible you could go to up to a couple events a day (a luncheon, a dinner, and a party). With cocktail dresses ranging from cocktail dresses 3-5k and gowns for charity events or big dinners can run up to 10k.
It is not uncommon for a Beverly Hills housewife to operate on a $50k per month shopping budget for clothes and shoes (does not include jewelry or fur). One friend of the Truffle regularly spreads the 50k a month across Neimans (20k), Saks (10k), and other stores (10k).
If you do have a fur(s), you either have a fur storage closet or spend $95 a year to store a fur at Neiman Marcus; Saks will run you $125 to store a coat for a year and and glaze it. *(Saks is a little more possibly because The Fur Salon at Saks is owned and operated by an independent Dutch furrier who houses the coats in an undisclosed workshop in L.A. — location not released for security purposes).
INSURANCE — $50,000 to $500,000
Insurance is a major issue when you start to have valuables. The basic rule of thumb is that anything less than $6k is not worth the cost to insure it. A typical annual insurance cost for jewelry and watches for a woman in Beverly Hills can be around $50k.
One Beverly Hills housewife in the area has two armed security guards stand outside her jewelry closet at all times …!
A way to avoid this sort of cost that other Beverly Hills ladies do is keep their statement jewelry in a safe deposit box at a bank (which means you don’t have to insure the items) and then take out one at a time when you want to wear it and call in a ‘floater’ to your insurance company which will turn the insurance for that item on for the time you have it out of the bank’s vault. So you can pull out your red rubies for Friday and exchange them for the diamond choker on Saturday.
Homeowner’s insurance and high value art costs a LOT more to insure than jewels though … What most people do is find an insurance policy for their home that will wrap in the insurance for every family member’s car, all the jewels, life insurance, and so forth.
A Swiss insurer by the name of Ace Group offered a Beverly Hills housewife we know car insurance that will provide her with an unlimited cost of car rental in the event her car goes into the shop. That means she can rent a Ferrari for free. The cost of this policy would be cost-prohibitive on it’s own — but wrapped up with the house and medical, Ace Group basically offers it for next to nothing. This is when the phrase you have to spend money to make money comes to mind.
Many BH-ers also have liability insurance which means their liability is limited if a gardener trips on a hoe or a kid’s friend falls off the trampoline. Without this kind of insurance, wealthy individuals are left open to any amount of medical and emotional damages the victims claims.
VACATION / SECOND HOMES — $300,000 to $500,000
A three week vacation with Abercrombie and Kent to Africa is about $25k — while a trip to Africa with Ker & Downey will be $28k per person!
If you are talking about Europe during peak season, expect a three week vacation to climb upwards of 40k. A get-away spa to the Golden Door or Montecatini or Canyon Ranch *(in the Berkshires only) starts at $500 a day.
If you bring the kids and need an extra room — double everything. If you bring a nanny, or three, as is customary for many Beverly Hills housewife who have CEOs as husbands. Why bring 3? It is because a good nanny will only want to work 8 hours a day so you need three to fill three 8 hour shifts a day. Then some pay the nanny over time when she isn’t working because she is basically being paid overtime. While this is on the extravagant side — it is not entirely abnormal. Here is the math on that — $25 an hour x 8 hours x 7 days plus $50 x 16 hours x 7 days x 3 nannies.
A house in the Malibu Colony that is average size (for the Colony) will cost about $200k (excludes purchase price) to maintain throughout the year. If you want the math on that — this is the mortgage and taxes on an $7,500,000 house with 40% down.
STAFF / SHRINKS / PSYCHICS / PETS — $100,000 – $200,000
Normal staff for a Beverly Hills housewife is either a day housekeeper ($150 per, $4,500 per month and $54,000 per year) but more likely a live in housekeeper which is less expensive because you’ve include room and board. Everyone is different but typically a live-in housekeepers in Beverly Hills annual salary is $22,000 a year with all taxes paid for, free room and free food. One Beverly Hills housewife has a housekeeper with this exact salary but doesn’t iron or go to the market or cook at all. She does, however, pay close attention to four dogs that live in the house and works 830 or 9-4. She eats the same food as the family, uses the treadmill, eats food the housewife cooks her and is considered part of the family. She also has an iPhone and straightens her hair everyday. At least one live-in maid is to be expected with children.
A non-live-in chef is $100 to $150 per day (excluding food costs). Is it normal to have a chef? Yes, but often the housekeepers do it.
It is not uncommon for women we know to have special elective doctor such as therapists, shrinks, psychics, and the new trend of the moment — doctors of oestepathy. A reputable psychic is about $150 for a good full hour. Psychologist ($250 per visit x once a week = $12k). This is very normal. Rather it’s personal therapy or couples therapy, pretty much all BH-ers see this cost.
If you have 4 dogs, and we use than number because many Beverly Hills housewives like their pups!, it’s $3,500 + for 4 dogs to be bathed and clipped by a mobile grooming service.
If you fly with your pet, it is anywhere from $100-$150 per flight (each way).
POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS – $5,000 – $40,000
There are a lot of caps and controls on donations, but what a lot of wealthy people do is throw parties and use their star power to bring in money. A political fundraiser like that of Mitt Romney’s fundraiser dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel this past fall was $2500 per person or 5,000 for a couple. With that you got a photo with the potential candidate that may or may not make it to the mantle if he is nominated for the GOP.
TOYS – $30,000 – $100,000 per year (not including cost of toys)
The annual cost to own a very high end Mercedes – insurance, gas $12 excluding payments (lease). Most Beverly Hills housewives having their cars leased through their husbands’ companies, as most are principals of their own businesses and can fully write off their lease payments as tax deductible.
$1k to register the car each year – and gas (10,000 mile a year, means about $400 a month in gas aka $5K a year in fuel). Insurance varies based on age, sex and driving record but can be $2,5000 a year. Detailing on a regular basis runs $500 a month, $6K a year.
DINING OUT — $3,000 to $4,500
Monthly cost on dinner out — $3k to $4,500 is the range we heard back from legit BH-ers who are not too social but not to anti-social.
PHILANTHROPY — $75,000 – $300,000
You might the type to host a fundraiser for the Beverly Hills Police Department, or just buy a table at the Sports Spectacular or Caurosel Ball … Prices can truly range — Do you want a building named after you or your name on a wall?
Tickets to galas run $500 to $2500 while a whole table will cost 10k to 20k. The cost of a building usually is in the 10′s of millions. The retail space on walls — both inside and out — at Cedars Sinai for example runs from $10k for a children’s waiting room to $10M if you want the ER. *(on a side note, you can still have a building named after you if you are able to raise the money through additional sources so you may contribute 5M personally but raise the other 5M from friends and funds).
All and all, a typical amount for a Beverly Hills housewife to spend a year on philanthropic commitments could be around $75,000.
Many BH-ers helped with the founding of the Music Center and therefore have their names permanently listed on the Founder’s Wall in the main entry of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
The cost of permanent presence in a museum, like the National History Museum, usually is in the $10′s to $100′s of K’s. One BH-er has a permanent exhibit in The Native American exhibit at the Natural History Museum.
DRY CLEANING — $20,000
For those who still believe in hand finish (pressing), and maybe do, start counting up linens, table cloths, napkins, draperies, and sheets — many Beverly Hills housewives will get all their bedsheets pressed and send drapes out to Nonpareil or Effrey’s twice a year for general maintenance to remove dust. Dry cleaning for clothes can run conservatively run $20,000 including nicer gowns and delicate dresses.
FLOWERS — $3,000 to $4,000
Flowers are very customary in Beverly Hills. Many women use them as thank you gifts for even the smallest gesture; a lunch, a dinner, a party …. Many homes have standing orders with florists such as Eric Buterbaugh (who is housed beneath the Four Seasons hotel on Doheny. Many standard accounts there run $1,500 to $8k a month. One BH-er spends $2,500 every two weeks for flowers for various rooms of her house including various locations such as her dressing room inside her bathroom, and her in-house movie theater. Some BH-ers come in to Eric Buterbaugh to cut their own flowers.
DONATIONS TO RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS — $15,000
It’s not just the Mormons and the Scientologists who want all your cash. Friends of the Truffle and BH-ers weighed on average that a typical straight contribution to a religious organizations (like a church or temple) each year was about $15k.
Every religion has their ways of making it easy for you to give … rather they provide envelopes at All Saints on Camden or charge $1k per family at Sinai temple on Wilshire.
For Jewish BH-ers, its a ‘mitzvah’, or a good deed to support your temple and your Jewish community. While there are “free” high holiday services like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, an “A List” locations such as Wilshire Blvd can cost a family $1k for a service. Of course if you want to take your family to dinner at Brentwood or Hillcrest instead, the set dinner cost for that can range from $28 for children to $48 for adults. If you would like your child to go to Hebrew school and have a Bar or Bat mitzvah, you can be looking at the same cost as a wedding. It is typical for Bar or Bat mitzvahs to be held at hotels or move studios and costs range from $100k to $1M.
HOUSE / GARDEN — $10,000 to $20,000
Many BH-ers have more property to maintain than others … That means trees. For grounds with more than 5 or 6 large trees, your costs can be great. A typical low end cost of tree trimming can be around $2k a year, and tree spraying (Trufflers suggest National Arborist) cost $180 2x times a year. Gardening starts at $500 a month (excluding costs of plants) and goes up.
Maintenance of marble & hardwood floor maintenance (Trufflers suggest Rode Brothers) are about $400 for 5,000 square feet (most homes are not entirely wood floor so figure half of a 10,000 square foot home) and do it 3x a year for a total of $1200 a year.
Electric bills on large homes sky rocket. It’s impossible to keep all the lights off when there are so many rooms to constantly check. A bill to Edison can easily run in to the $1000′s.
DIVORCE — $20,000 to $200,000 (excluding assets and base settlement)
If you do, and we hope you don’t, a real housewife in Beverly Hills who has not signed a pre-nup, is entitled to the California law which is a 50 / 50 split on all earning made and assets acquired over the course of the marriage (this works for both men and women regardless of breadwinner). A typical alimony for a BH-er ranges from $20k a month to $200k a month depending on the other details of the settlement. Child support can range from $5k to $20k a child (not including schools).
The cost of a divorce attorney in Beverly Hills can be $500 ot $750 an hour. Average divorce when you are talking about high stakes can run a course of 4 years with 20 hours of legal work a month — 20hrs x 12 months x 4 years x $500 = $48k
ANNUAL COST — $1,000,000 to $4,000,000 a year
If you calculate the high side of our above mentioned maintenance fees which does not include the cost of houses, cars or jewelry, you will arrive just shy of $4 Million dollars a year for basic maintenance of a lifestyle in BH.
IN CONCLUSION …
How REAL are these HOUSEWIVES? While they do not have the Beverly Hills footprint of a Doheny, a Montgomery, a Goldwyn or a May-Rosenstein, Adrienne and Lisa both have houses in Beverly Hills proper and plenty of money (even if it wasn’t a 1 million dollar wedding). Taylor and Kim are fitting in more as friends and family members than the real meat of the show. Kyle does not live in Beverly Hills but her husband represents a lot of land in Beverly Hills via his job at Hilton & Hyland located in Beverly Hills.
Bravo has done some re-casting for the shows so we will be watching closely next season to see how BH the new cast members really are …. stay tuned!
**Costs according to first hand experience by our Truffle Hunters, friends of the Truffle, and Truffle board members. If you feel an error has been made email firstname.lastname@example.org