What would you most want to do with your new money if you were suddenly fabulously wealthy? Chances are that you’d want to buy a big flashy house right away, and that is indeed what a lot of people (celebs included) do with their first big paycheck.
Much More Modest Than You Might Expect
But you might be surprised to learn that some celebrities and otherwise notable people choose to live a modest existence – even though they might have access to millions of dollars. Their reasons are all different, but the celebrities on this list all share the common trait of living in homes that are more low-key than you might expect. Also, some of these stars are used to living in much more luxurious homes than they do today -- just see the place Tori Spelling calls home these days.
Known for his laid-back, Southern drawl, Matthew McConaughey is one of the stars of the screen. His easygoing ways were evident when he was living in an Airstream trailer near the beach, so that he could surf whenever he wanted.
He’s been quoted as saying that the small space was ideal because “It's two seconds from making your bed to putting your coffee on the stove.” Of course, once he got married (breaking the hearts of fans all over the world) and had kids, he was forced to move from his trailer into a real house for the sake of his family.
Keira Knightley’s home isn’t exactly tiny, but it’s still an incredibly modest living space for someone with her fortune. She may be an international celebrity, but the Pirates of the Caribbean star lives in a humble home that measures just over 2,000 square feet.
Her huge paychecks mostly go to the bank; the star has said that she only allots herself $50,000 a year to spend on purchases. Everything else goes into the bank to earn interest and to save for her retirement. With so many hit films under her belt, the young actress (who is just 31 years old) will have quite the nest egg whenever she decides to retire.
So this trailer might night technically be her primary residence, but considering that she has starred on Grey’s Anatomy for well over a decade, Ellen Pompeo’s trailer is basically a home away from home. She’s such a huge star that she could probably demand to have her own house built on set, but instead Ellen Pompeo chose to remodel her on-set trailer so that it is a comfortable—albeit small—living space.
And it looks incredibly cute—who wouldn’t want to live here? No wonder everyone loves Ellen Pompeo so much. She’s a great actress with great taste who doesn’t mind sleeping in a small space.
“Who is this?” you’re probably wondering. He might not have the most recognizable name out there, but Tom Shadyac is definitely one of Hollywood’s power players. The director has earned millions directing such films as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, and The Nutty Professor.
Despite his massive spending power, Shadyac downsized from his 17,000 square foot Beverly Hills home (the kind of place you would expect someone like him to live in) and purchased a 1,000 square foot beachside trailer in Malibu. Rumor has it that a bicycle accident inspired Tom Shadyac to trade in his lavish lifestyle for a more simple way of life.
Mariska Hargitay is one of the highest paid women in television, earning millions from the show Law & Order: SVU. Despite her vast fortune, however, she and her husband Peter Hermann are teaching their children the benefits of living modestly and want them to learn money management skills.
The couple save half of everything they earn, putting it into savings accounts for their children. They purchased a six bedroom townhouse in New York City’s Upper West Side. The townhouse is just 18 feet wide, though it has several stories. Still, they could have definitely purchased a much more lavish home with their fortune!
This Hollywood star and her husband, Dax Shepard, believe in living simply. When she was 22, Kristen Bell purchased a modest three bedroom and three bathroom home for $3.1 million. The actress and singer reportedly only spent $150 on her wedding to Shepherd, including the gas it cost to drive to the courthouse!
Kristen says that she clips coupons in an effort to save money when she goes grocery shopping. This celeb couple may have a lot of star power and their spending power reflects that, but they believe in keeping things tastefully simple. It seems that when it comes to money, the Frozen star can’t just let it go.
Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III (AKA Pete Wentz, AKA ‘every millennial’s first crush) is the bassist and also the primary lyricist for the hit band Fall Out Boy. As if that weren’t enough (come on, it’s Fall Out Boy!) Wentz also owns his own record label that has signed big-name acts like Gym Class Heroes and Panic! at the Disco.
You know that Pete is just rolling in money, but that doesn’t mean he’s throwing it around. He lives in a fairly simple home that only cost him $1.5 million. Okay, that sounds like a lot of money, but California real estate costs big bucks, even for a simple four bedroom house like Wentz has.
When you think of rock stars, you probably picture them living in the lap of luxury, but Brandon Boyd prefers to keep it simple. Lead singer of the band Incubus, Boyd could have purchased a huge home, but he instead lives in a bungalow in Santa Monica, California.
Built in 1923, the home cost Boyd $3.5 million, so it’s still pretty nice despite the small size. The bungalow has original hardwood floors, antique moldings, and high ceilings. The house is a piece of history. Boyd also has a large backyard and a swimming pool so he’s living well but his house is still a far cry from a mansion.
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but if you are ever lucky enough to be invited over to a party at his place you there’s no way you would guess it. The singer believes in making good financial decisions and is not in the habit of wasting money.
His Los Angeles home is pretty simple. The house, on Nicholson Lane, doesn’t even come close to revealing that its owner is worth $225 million. The only thing that makes this home different from your average house is the recording studio which he added on to the property.
Hilary Swank’s New York City home is far from swanky. Her 1,400 square foot home in the West Village is also a testament to just how darned expensive a home in the city can be. With such a small living area, you would probably expect her rent to be pretty low, but nope. The home, which she has recently started renting out, costs residents $20,000 a month.
Still, if you’ve got the money, it would be worth it to live in a space where the lead actress of Million Dollar Baby once lived and breathed as she rose to stardom. Rumor has it that the home is filled with shabby-chic furniture purchased on a budget.
This starlet started starring on Broadway when she was just a kid, so she’s had a couple of decades to amass enough wealth to purchase a huge house. Still, despite being known for her role as the notoriously high-strung Rachel Barry on the hit show Glee, Lea Michele is a lot more down-to-earth.
She lives in a simple 1,805 square foot bungalow that cost her $1.4 million. The home was built in the 1920s and has just two bedrooms. With a terrace off the master bedroom, a patio, a veranda, and a salt water pool, Lea Michele’s home is simple and elegant.
Sure, she might be a reality TV star, but that doesn’t mean that Lauren Conrad wants to constantly show off. The fashion designer and author owns a $1.35 million, two-story condo in Beverly Hills that was built in the 1970s.
Her home is nicely put together as expected, with hardwood floors, an outdoor deck, a winding staircase, and a pool on the rooftop, but it isn’t exactly breaking the bank. The tastefully simple home proves that not all celebrities are looking to live the high life. Many of them are simply normal people who do not need all the bells and whistles they could purchase with their vast wealth.
In case you missed the memo, Ellen Page is kind of a big deal. The Hollywood star made it big in Juno and since then she has seen more and more success. Despite that, she isn’t exactly going for the fanciest house on the market. In fact, until 2014, the actress was living in a small Hollywood Hills home with just two bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms!
She purchased the small home for less than a million dollars and invested some money in it, renovating the bathroom. When she put it on the market a few years ago, it was listed for almost a quarter of a million dollars more than she paid for it. It sounds like Ellen Page could have had a successful career in real estate if she hadn’t pursued acting (although we’re glad she did!)
In spite of the fact that Vincent Kartheiser played a pretty unlikable and greedy guy on AMC’s hit show, Mad Men, this is one famous star who definitely has both feet on the ground. With his substantial earnings from his successful acting career, Kartheiser could have opted to purchase a palace, but he didn’t.
Instead, the Mad Men star opted for a cabin, of all things, nestled in Hollywood. The cabin is smaller than many apartments, with just 580 square feet of living space. Talk about living simply! Vincent Kartheiser was practically camping out living in such a tiny home!
Tori Spelling is a celebrity who definitely grew up in the kind of house you’d expect her famous family to have. Spelling Manor has over 100 rooms and recently sold for a whopping $85 million. Spelling was probably a pretty lonely kid, growing up in such a big mansion, so when she grew up she opted for a much smaller option.
She and her partner, reality TV star Dean McDermott, have a three bedroom bungalow. The one story home is just 2,400 square feet, but sits on 1.73 acres of land so their kids have plenty of room to play.
Christina Ricci is another celebrity who is keeping her living style modest. The movie star could probably buy just about any home that she wanted, but she instead purchased a two bedroom home for $1.5 million in 2005. The Mediterranean-style house is just 1,891 square feet.
The house has a vintage appeal to it and has a swimming pool, terraced gardens, and a patio. There aren’t going to be many formal dining parties for this celeb, who has a modestly sized eat-in kitchen. The one big indulgence in the house is a large dressing room in the master bedroom to house Christina Ricci’s wardrobe.
Shaq is one of the biggest basketball stars of all time, and there was a time when he lived in a home that reflected his status as a major celebrity, but those days are long gone. Shaquille O’Neal owns a massive 70,000 square foot home just outside Orlando with an indoor basketball court bigger than most homes, but recently put down just a quarter of a million for a Mount Dora home in Florida.
Shaq’s new pad is just 3,900 square feet—just a fifth of the size of the basketball court at his Orlando property. The house has five bedrooms and four bedrooms. It’s a very nice home, but practically a log cabin when compared to his lakeside resort.
Okay, this one probably won’t shock you too much because Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much the most relatable Hollywood actress ever. It’s so easy to relate to someone who unabashedly announces how much they love food and who trips on the stairs while on her way up to accept an award. Jennifer Lawrence is just like one of us…except with way, way more money.
The Oscar winner lived in a three bedroom home, even after making it big in Hollywood and, honestly, we love her even more for it. She lived in the 1,400 square foot home before eventually upsizing to a five bedroom home.
Sarah Jessica Parker
True to her character on Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker lived the NYC lifestyle for the longest time, keeping it modest in a Greenwich Village brownstone that cost just a small fraction of her net worth. She and her husband Matthew Broderick are worth at least $135 million but only paid $12 million for the brownstone.
They put the home on the market in 2012, presumably because with three growing children the couple needed a little bit more space. The selling price reflects just how hard it is to find a place to live in NYC; they listed the brownstone for $20 million, nearly double what they originally paid for it.
Journalists don’t typically make a lot of money, unless they also happen to be world-famous television hosts like Meredith Vieira. The former host of The Today Show may live nestled in the Hollywood Hills, but she isn’t splurging on anything fancier than a fireplace.
Her 1,783 square foot house has a vaulted ceiling and massive windows, and a covered stone terrace but that’s about as ritzy as the humble home gets (aside from the fireplace). Meredith Viera’s modest-sized home cost her just $1.1 million dollars. The rest of her fortune is safely earning money in the bank.
Warren Buffett’s name just screams money. He is one of the wealthiest people on the entire planet. But the business magnate, who donates much of his cash to philanthropic pursuits, didn’t get rich by wasting money. Despite his billions of dollars, Warren Buffett still lives in a five-bedroom home he purchased more than sixty years ago.
The 6,570 square foot home was purchased in 1957 for just $31,500. While that was a lot more money back in the pre-recession days of the '50s, its estimated worth now is still a modest quarter of a million dollars, a paltry sum of money for a multi-billionaire.
She might be the queen of country music, but Carrie Underwood definitely does not live in a mansion. She doesn’t even live in a city famous for its massive houses, instead, making her home in Ottawa.
With several Grammy awards under her belt and millions of dollars in the bag, Carrie could be living the high life, but she prefers a much more simple way of living. The down-to-earth singer even argued with the wardrobe department while she was on American Idol, asking to not be dressed up in expensive clothes that did not reflect her modest lifestyle and personality.
Sir Paul McCartney might be one of the most iconic and prolific musicians and songwriters of all time, but he is also notoriously tight with his money, almost to the point of being stingy. In fact, many of his friends describe the former member of the Beatles as “cheap.” At a birthday party he threw for his ex-wife, Heather Mills, he made his guests buy their own drinks.
You would think that with an estimated worth of $1 billion you could afford an open bar! It should come as no surprise that someone who won’t even buy his pals a round of beer has a simple London home.
Much like her character on The New Girl, Zooey Deschanel is a bit quirky, preferring thrift shops to designer boutiques. The actress and singer makes more money in a month than most people make in an entire year, but that doesn’t mean she’s spending it all.
Thanks to her recent divorce from her husband Ben Gibbard, fans learned that Zooey put most of the money she earns each month in the bank. Instead of living in an opulent mansion, the She & Him singer lives in a humble home in Manhattan Beach.
A Hilton has to be living someplace showy, or at least you would think! Paris Hilton’s little sis decided not to follow in her footsteps which is probably a good thing. Nicky Hilton works as a fashion designer but, unlike her infamous sister, she prefers to stay out of the spotlight.
Nicky Hilton prefers modest tastefulness over ostentatious extravagance. Her three bedroom home is a decent-sized 4,072 feet. The 1940s home cost Hilton nearly $3 million, but it’s also just a short walk from Sunset Boulevard. You know what they say: location, location, location. The modest, two-story home costs more just because of its prime location.
Actress Faye Dunaway lived in a modest West Hollywood duplex for fifteen years, selling the historic home a couple years ago for $1.45 million—a low price, by Hollywood standards. The remodeled home was purchased in 1998 for just $315,000. The Academy Award-winning actress occupied a two bedroom, two bathroom space.
When she sold the duplex, it was with the plan to move into an even smaller abode. Faye is definitely not a spoiled Hollywood diva, despite her money and accolades! The home also came with some Hollywood memorabilia such as the Academy Award Dunaway won for her role in 1977’s “Newark.”
While Daryl Hannah’s Malibu compound is far from small, it is quite a rustic choice of homes for a Hollywood celeb. There are three modestly sized buildings on the 17 acre property. The property has a master suite equipped with a bathroom and a fireplace, a guest room with a loft overlooking the ocean, and a house equipped with an art studio.
It’s no surprise that the environmentally friendly Daryl Hannah would choose to live in such a quaint home where she can be in touch with nature. She listed the compound a few years ago for just under $5 million.
She may have starred as a 1960s housewife on the hit television series, Mad Men, but January Jones’ personal style is far from outdated. She recently listed her remodeled Los Feliz Mediterranean home for $1.495 million. The home, which was purchased for just over $1 million back in 2009, has just three bedrooms and three bedrooms.
The home was outdated when she purchased it, with features that would have better suited her character Betty Francis, but January renovated with hardwood floors and updated the wood-burning fireplace. The modest home is just 2,200 hundred square feet, which is practically a hovel by Hollywood standards.
True to her humble beginnings, Dolly Parton purchased a 1,091 square foot home in West Hollywood. The adobe-style house was purchased in 2007 for $1.2 million. The interior is quite cozy, with checkered seat coverings and an almost rustic vibe throughout the home.
With just two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the home isn’t what you would expect from a country music sensation, but then again, Dolly owns several properties. While her West Hollywood house might be a small one, Dolly also owns a plantation just outside of Nashville. Still, her purchase of the modest home shows that Dolly Parton remains true to her roots.
Known for his starring role in the hit television series, Portlandia, Fred Armisen’s real-life home is exactly what you would expect from someone who portrays a hipster for a living. Art imitates life, and Fred’s Silver Lake address has been ranked as one of Forbes’ “Hippest Hipster” cities.
The 1,446 square foot home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, an unfinished extra space, and a detached garage. The kitchen is, not surprisingly, pieced together from recycled parts with a reclaimed barn wood island and a farmhouse sink. Armisen paid just $763,000 for the bungalow—peanuts for a Los Angeles neighborhood!
While she may no longer have a dollar sign in her name, Kesha still has millions of real life dollars to spend. Still, the pop sensation is frugal in managing her hard earned millions. She spent $1.65 million on a Spanish-style bungalow in Venice, California which may sound like a fortune to us lesser mortals but is a modest sum in Kesha’s ritzy neighborhood.
Her 1,416 square foot home has just three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Just a few blocks from the beach, Kesha is keeping close to nature; her master bedroom opens onto a patio which boasts an outdoor kitchen.
Rosie owns several properties, but most of them seem to be on the more modest end of the scale as far as celebrity homes go. She lived in the small hamlet of Nyack, New York for decades, purchasing the deeds to four adjacent properties lying along the Hudson River between 2002 and 2008, forming her own riverfront compound.
Most of the homes have just three or four bedrooms, and one is a tiny one bedroom, one bathroom cabin. The home where Rosie lived has just three bedrooms in it. Rosie O’Donnell made the decision to sell the compound and move to New Jersey which has schools better suited to her son’s needs.
Before she was a star on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Phaedra Parks was a humble entertainment lawyer. She recently listed her house in Smyrna, Georgia for sale. The home, which is in a suburb of Atlanta, was listed for just $349,900, a far cry from the millions of dollars many celebs spend on their homes.
The home, despite having just five bedrooms and six bathrooms, is a spacious 4,000 square foot home; pretty nice, but nothing outrageously fancy. The home has a finished basement with a kitchen and bar area. The home also boasts a big deck at the back of the house.
You would think that most celebrities would purchase a fancy home perfectly tailored to their specifications, but there are some famous people out there who enjoy the thrill of renovating their own home. Lena Headey, famous for her starring role on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones is one such star.
The actress purchased what is known as a “fixer upper” in Sherman Oaks after her divorce in 2012. The three bedroom, three bathroom home has just 1,808 square feet and was built in 1951—quite the modest choice for a celebrity, especially when you consider that the outdated home needs some work put into it.
As if there were not already enough reasons to love this Hollywood heartthrob, it seems that Robert Pattinson is not one to live lavishly. It would be hard to blame him if he wanted to live a partying lifestyle, but the Twilight star recently sold his Los Angeles mansion, trading in the 4,026 foot home for a far more modest 1,940 square foot house in Hollywood Hills.
He sold his mansion for a cool $6 million, purchasing his new house for just $2 million. The two bedroom home has a hacienda-style exterior. Now Robert Pattinson is not only incredibly gorgeous and talented, but relatable as well!
This fashion designer is one of the most sought-after in the industry, but that doesn’t mean that she’s let her ego get out of control. Charlotte Ronson could live the celebrity lifestyle if she wanted to, but instead she opts to live in a small New York City duplex.
The small area means that Charlotte has had to think innovatively because there isn’t a lot of room for storage. She turned her design talents from fashion to interior, creating a reading nook equipped with floating shelves and a small daybed. It is far from the fancy living space one would expect from a fancy designer.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. live in a $6.1 million home which may seem outrageously expensive, but is definitely on the low end of Hollywood homes. Beyond this, the celebrity power couple, who have an estimated net worth of $35 million combined, have other money saving techniques.
Sarah brings her own bags when she goes grocery shopping and uses coupons whenever she can. She also only goes shopping for clothes whenever department stores have reward days. This Hollywood couple is definitely not the kind who waste their money! Their modest lifestyle and long-lasting relationship are truly extraordinary by Hollywood standards.
Believe it or not, this internationally famous funny man is not one for big spending. While he is an avid collector of cars and motorcycles, he doesn’t exactly throw his money around. His 3,400 square foot home in Bel Air has just five bedrooms.
The former host of The Tonight Show put all the money he earned from the show into the bank, choosing instead to live solely off of the income he makes from doing standup comedy. The multimillionaire who has an estimated net worth of $350 million is also a noted philanthropist who donates to charitable causes and organizations.
Tobey Maguire recently put the home he purchased with his ex, Jennifer Meyer, on the market. The Spanish-style Santa Monica home has been updated with a second floor and high ceilings, turning this 1920s house into a modern masterpiece. Despite the renovations, however, this home is anything but ostentatious.
The house, purchased for a modest (by Hollywood standards) $2.675 million, is only 2,400 square feet large. Tobey Maguire is known for his laid back attitude and easygoing lifestyle and is frequently spotted in jeans and t-shirts instead of designer clothing. That’s a pretty frugal style for a Hollywood star!