When we lived in Naples, Florida, I was astonished by the wealth. Naples is a small town on the west coast of southern Florida, and we moved there for my husband’s job at the Rookery Bay estuarine reserve.
We bought a modest house — our first home! — across the street from a gated community that was so exclusive you couldn’t see in from the street. It was blocked by manmade hills and landscaping meant to maintain the residents’ privacy. We later learned that residents from the gatend community bought homes for their servants in the neighborhood we lived in.
Naples has a long strip of waterfront property along the white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. When we lived there, I was active in triathlons. Multiple times a week, I rode my bicycle along the miles-long strip of waterfront mansions. The majority of them had shuttered windows the marjority of the year. I rode by pristine manicured landscapes — they were not yards, they were landscapes — a quarter mile deep, with gardeners tending the lush tropical greenery even in the 10 months of the year the multi-million dollar waterfront homes sat empty.
I wondered what it must be like to have that much money. So much money that you can not only afford a multi-million dollar home on the water in in Naples, Florida, but that it’s not even your primary residence. So much money that you have multiple multi-million dollar homes.
It was hard living in a place like that. To be a full time resident and see all the prime property taken up by people who don’t even live there, who don’t take advantage of the amazing waterfront but a tiny part of the year when many of us would appreciate it every day of our lives. People for whom your home is a playground. Being around that kind of wealth when you don’t have it can make you feel small.
Naples was not a good fit for us. Thankfully, we no longer live in a place where homes are shuttered the majority of the year.