10 of the Most Expensive Hobbies Money Can Buy

You might think you have to put up a lot of money for a casual hobby like golfing, gardening, or photography. Most regular leisure activities require at least some level of investment. But you probably have no idea just how pricey some hobbies can get. When the rich aren’t off building their empires, they like to have fun, too. And with more cash at their disposal, they are willing to try hobbies that are out of reach for most middle class Americans. Below, we list the activities with some of the heftiest price tags. If you engage in one of these hobbies regularly, you’re likely either rolling in the dough or up to your ears in credit card debt.

1. Collecting cars

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

There are plenty of options if you want to build an expensive collection. Art, wine, antiques, and even fabergé eggs are some favorites among the wealthy. When it comes to vintage automobiles, it only takes one or two before you’ll be spending some major bucks. The average Joe might keep a modest classic car as a hobby, but only the truly rich, such as Jay Leno, Ralph Lauren, and Jerry Seinfeld, can sustain this kind of collecting on a large scale. A 1937 57S Buggati, for example, goes for $4.4 million, and the 1954 Mercedes Formula 1 race car costs $29.6 million.

2. Yacht racing

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

If you’ve ever even set foot on a yacht, you might count yourself lucky. The average yacht can cost about $40,000 per lineal foot, totaling in the millions of dollars per yacht. And that doesn’t include long-term expenses like maintenance, docking fees, and insurance. High-end yachts can cost as much as $800 million all told. If those prices are too rich for your blood, but you want to try yacht racing, another option is to rent a yacht. But even a low-end yacht rental could cost you $5,000 per day, and to enter serious competitions, you likely need a boat of your own.

3. Ballroom dancing

Argentina's dancers Gonzalo Bogado (R) and Jimena Tonanez perform representing the city of Tigre during the Stage Tango competition of the Tango World Championship 2014 in Buenos Aires on August 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL GARCIA (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Daniel Garcia/Getty Images

Looking for an athletic and glamorous hobby? Many couples will take a few ballroom lessons here and there just for the experience, but when it becomes a hobby, it gets much more expensive. Between wardrobe costs, competition fees, dance lessons, transportation, lodging, and other expenses, you can easily spend more than $10,000 per year on ballroom dancing. Some of the major competitions could even cost you $15,000.

4. Aviation

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Source: iStock

Learning to fly costs both time and money. In the end, getting your private pilot’s license could total just $5,000, but purchasing a plane will most likely cost you $100,000 or more. Many pilots join a flying club to rent planes, but this means paying club membership plus hourly rentals which can come in at $80 per hour or more. Helicopter flying is popular too, and one amateur pilot told Main Street he spent $10,000 in his first year of flying.

5. Keeping exotic pets

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Source: iStock

A beautiful white lion cub will cost you about $140,000. A cheetah cub? $314,500. But the costs don’t end there. Many exotic pets require that you acquire a license. Plus, caring for a large wild animal has huge ongoing costs. The price tag isn’t the only reason you might want to pass on an exotic pet. Even when it’s legal to own these animals, it is often dangerous to both the owner and the welfare of the pets, many of which are not accustomed to domestication.

6. Sky diving

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Source: iStock

Sky diving isn’t the priciest thrill-based activity if you just do it once. A single tandem dive will likely cost about $150 to $250, but if you make sky diving a hobby, the costs can add up quickly. And when you consider that a dive only lasts about a minute, this is one of the most expensive hobbies out there. For regular divers, a good way to drop the price is to become certified. The certification could cost about $1,500, and then you’ll be able to dive for about $20 per jump.

7. Mountain climbing

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Source: iStock

Not every mountain climber is rich, but guided climbs have made the adventure sport accessible even to those with less experience, provided they can afford it. Between permits, equipment, clothing, and travel expenses, you’ve already got an expensive trip ahead of you. If you opt for guides, your total cost for climbing the seven summits could easily top $170,000. On top of that, climbing mountains takes time, so you’ll need to be able to afford not to work for quite a while if you want to make mountain climbing a regular hobby.

8. Scuba diving

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Source: iStock

For aquatic wildlife lovers, scuba diving is an attractive hobby. At $500, the scuba diving gear won’t necessarily break the bank, but certification will be an additional investment of $300 to $500. To check out the best scuba sites, you’ll need to pay a handsome sum in airfare for prime spots like the Great Barrier Reef. This is where it gets pricey. And the more diving you want to do, the more vacation time and travel expenses you’ll have to sacrifice. That’s a luxury not everyone is lucky enough to have.

9. Polo

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Source: iStock

Polo is known as a sport of the upper class for a reason. You can expect to pay at least $8,000 per year to be a member with your own polo club. A decent polo horse will then cost about $20,000. And as pet owners know, the expenses don’t end there. It will cost roughly $1,500 a month for boarding, daily care, and vet bills. With this large of an investment, polo shouldn’t be the sport you decide to try out on a whim unless you’ve got some serious dispensable income.

10. Race car driving

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Driving race cars, as it turns out, isn’t just for the professionals. For a price, race car enthusiasts who dream of spending their free time driving the fastest cars out there can make these fantasies into reality. A 15-minute driving experience on a professional race car track costs about $360. You’ll also need to cover annual registration fees and insurance costs. Actually owning your own race car could cost more than $1 million, so if you only have an average income, you can cross this hobby right off your list.

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