How to Afford Miami on Just $4.2 Million a Year

How to Afford Miami on Just $4.2 Million a Year

With rents and housing prices soaring ever higher across Miami-Dade County, how do local millionaires afford to live here? The Plantain set out to find out by talking to Miamians with absurd income levels about how they make life in South Florida work for them.

Johnathan Bustello-Schwartzbaum, 31.

Job: Johnathan (or "Jono") doesn't have a "job" per se, but he does hold an advisory position for his family's real estate development firm that allows him to draw a modest annual salary and holds some profit-making passive interests in a few businesses that his financial adviser Gerald suggested. He is also the "CFO" and seeking funding for an app called "Ball Harder" that allows people to purchase courtside tickets.

Salary: $4,200,000 ($252,000 salary from his family's business, around $180,000 yearly from investments, and $3,750,000 from a trust account started by his grandfather Ezekial Schwartzbaum.)

What brought you to Miami?
I was raised here. My grandfather Ezekial came to Miami in the 1940s from Syracuse and began buying property with a small business loan of $10 million dollars from his father throughout Brickell and the Miami River. It was a pretty modest operation, only netting a few million dollars a year until the 1980s when they helped a few mid-size drug trafficking rings embezzle their profits through some of our properties.

What makes you want to stay?
Miami is just a nice place to relax, especially during the winter. I usually spend the summers at my home in L.A. and prefer N.Y. or Paris in the spring, but I love Miami during the winter. Except when I go skiing. Then it's Breckenridge.

Which neighborhood do you live in? Do you rent or own?
In Miami only? I guess I live primarily on the top two floors of the Continuum in Miami-Beach. I also have a small 2-bedroom apartment on Brickell, but I am hardly there. My parents have a, I guess you would call it a "compound", on the water in Coral Gables, which I sometimes stay. I also technically own an apartment complex in Little River and a few in the ghetto part of the Grove, but those are only investment properties and I try not to go to those neighborhoods too often.

What are you saving for right now?
Right now my brother and I are part-owners of a Gulfstream. I'd like to eventually have my own since we sometimes run into scheduling conflicts and one of us is forced to charter, which, you know, defeats the purpose of owning your own Gulfstream in the first place and looks bad.

When you're not working, what takes up most of your time?
Normal stuff, you know. Collecting expensive wines, taking between 10 and 15 beautiful women and no men out on one of my boats, improv comedy.

What is the biggest financial stress in your life?
Just not overspending. You wouldn't believe how many times my adviser Gerald calls me to question me about what I'm doing with my money. I recently bought, and then accidentally lost, a Patek Phillipe and you would have thought that I ran over another child by his reaction. In retrospect, I get that I should have been more responsible, but some poor person probably found the watch and can, I don't know, afford to feed their kids or something. I told him to treat it as a charitable tax-write off.

Do you think you make enough money?
No. I mean, I'm comfortable, I guess. But there are so many things I still don't own yet.

Is Miami an expensive city?
No, there are more expensive cities. The tax benefits of being in Miami are pretty great, although still way too high. I probably wouldn't even be able to get a second or third apartment if I were in Manhattan.

You just got paid, and you're hitting the town for the night. What's your first stop?

What's something you hate spending money on?
Legal fees. I was just forced to settle a lawsuit over my app "Ball Harder" with the comedian Bill Hader, who claimed people were being confused. It was bullshit.

What's something you wish you had more money to spend on?
I guess it would be cool to own an island.

What's something you consistently spend money on even though you know you shouldn't?
Healthcare coverage for the crew taking care of my boat.