Private jets are not just for celebrities, CEOs and billionaires with too much money and looking to save time out of their busy schedules. They can also be a great way to save thousands of dollars in the right scenario. Six months ago I almost signed up for a private jet membership between Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley area.
Last summer I was interviewing for a job with Facebook to help build satellites and high altitude solar-powered aircraft for the Internet.org project which is working to bring high-speed internet access to all countries around the globe. The job was based at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, the heart of Silicon Valley and one of the most expensive areas to live in California.
I had recently helped a friend move to San Francisco a few months prior, so I knew the rents in the area ranged from $3,000 to $4,500 for one and two bedroom apartments in the 500 to 1,000 square foot range. Parking would cost an extra $150 to $200 a month. I also discovered that groceries, gas, and pretty much everything in the area was marked up at a premium over other cities.
The further down the interview process I went, the more I realized how outlandish the cost of living in the area would be. I would have to downsize from my 1,200 square foot 2 bed 2 bath apartment with a 3 car garage to a smaller apartment for 2.5 to 3.2 times my current rent of $1,400 a month in the LA area.
I would also have to get rid of our two cars or pay extra for parking, and I would have to either rent a storage unit or sell my surfboards, bicycles, snowboards, and some of our furniture to accommodate the smaller living conditions. This job was a once in a lifetime opportunity to help change the world, but was it worth downgrading my entire quality of life to contribute to a cool project? After taxes, the $60k salary increase I was targeting would most likely all go towards covering my increased rent, parking, and food costs.
I then I had a Eureka! moment. I remembered reading about a new company called SurfAir that offered unlimited flights between Los Angeles and the Bay Area for an $1,800 a month membership. I contacted them and learned that although the service was not made for this purpose, I could technically commute to work every day their private jet. The flight was only 45 minutes each way and I did not have to bother with going through TSA security. I was already driving 30 minutes each way to work at my current job, so an additional 15 minutes was not a big deal, especially since I wouldn’t be driving. I know this sounds outlandish, but I figured it was cheaper than moving.
The numbers looked like this $1,400 rent + $1,800 commute for a total cost of $3,200 a month with no change in my current lifestyle. I could still surf every weekend, visit my friends and family as I normally do and continue to enjoy my kick ass pad with a 3 car garage! Did I mention I have a 3 car garage? I have no clue why I have a 3 car garage, but for some reason I do, and it’s amazing! Especially because I have a copious amount of toys.
The alternative would be to spend $3,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment plus a few hundred dollars more for a dedicated parking spot. We would also want to get to know our new city and would most likely end up spending money to go out and explore the area, and we would have to spend money on social activities to make new friends in the area.
I estimated that by not disrupting our current living situation in the LA area, flying to work every day would save us $3,000 to $9,000 a year. We would also maintain a higher quality of life with less stress and continue to be surrounded by our awesome friends and family. I could also surf all year around without worry of frigid water temperatures and great white sharks. Yew, what a life!
Unfortunately (fortunately?), I did not get an offer from Facebook. It would have been a great opportunity, and I was ready to pop bottles of champagne every evening after work while enjoying my commute home on a private jet, with my homies Mark Zuckerburg, Chris Saca, and Kevin Rose, but it was not meant to be. So is life. I’ll just have to settle for simplicity and saving copious amounts of money into my savings and retirement accounts instead.