We asked 17 people on the street in New York City what it means to be rich, and most of them didn’t talk about money

Sherina Seale said being rich is about having good health.

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Sherina Seale said being rich is about having good health.
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Myelle Lansat/Business Insider

  • Business Insider asked 17 people around New York City what it means to be rich.
  • Many people defined being rich as having a fulfilling life, full of love and family.
  • New York City is one of the most expensive places in the US to live.

New York City is a concrete beast that moves a mile a second. And it’s one of the most expenses places to live in America.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, it costs $4,771 a month to cover housing, food, transportation, taxes, healthcare, and necessities for a single person in New York.

But when we asked people on the streets of New York City what it means to to be rich, many of them didn’t equate being rich with money.

Self-made millionaire Chris Reining retired at 37 and believes there is a difference between “being rich” and “living rich,” he told Business Insider. “‘Rich’ has little to do with how big the paycheck is,” Reining said.

Many of the people we spoke with had a similar perspective, across generations and origins.

Charles Joseph Augustin, a 21-year-old who lives in Brooklyn and interns for a foundation center, defined richness as “the knowledge, the personality, the joy you have, and joy to spread with people, so that comes with wisdom and the people around you.”

Charles Joseph Augustin said being rich has to do with the joy you bring to others.

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Charles Joseph Augustin said being rich has to do with the joy you bring to others.
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Myelle Lansat/Business Insider

Los Angeles native and FTI Consulting employee Charlie Altuzarra, 24, defined richness as “doing what you love to do everyday.” He continued: “I mean I think if you can get to a situation where you’re working on what you want to work on everyday.”

New York City resident and police department employee Sherina Seale, 51, said “money can only buy material things. To be rich is more like your wealth, you’re healthy.” She continued: “Your health is great, that’s what being rich is about – rich in life, not the money.”

Leah Shanty-Zimm, a 31-year-old New Jersey resident who works for National Debt Relief, said that between money and fulfillment, “For me it would be about being rich in life, absolutely.”

Leah Shanty-Zimm said being

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Leah Shanty-Zimm said being “rich in life” is more important than money.
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Myelle Lansat/Business Insider

Texan native and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport waitress Colleen Cain, 26, said being rich “means to just have a lot of good people by your side and a lot of loving your life. Honestly that’s the best way to be rich, money is just a material thing.”

Goucher College student and Cleveland, Ohio, resident Elaine Millas, 20, said she learned financial wellness from her mom. “My mother said that richness is about the people you surround yourself with and not necessarily about the classical definition of wealth and money, but who your friends are and just that kind of thing.”

Mike DeLuca said being is

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Mike DeLuca said being is “feeling fulfilled in life” and “valuable in the world.”
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Myelle Lansat/Business Insider

Ithaka worker and New York City resident Mike DeLuca, 35, said being rich is “feeling fulfilled in life, feeling important and valuable in the world, knowing your place, affecting lives in a positive way, I mean that’s what richness feels like to me.”