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Why multi-millionaire Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh chooses to live in a trailer park

Monday, 8 May 2017 | 9:46 AM ET
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Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is known for his unconventional management style. But his personal life is equally unconventional.

Despite his status as a near-billionaire with at least $780 million to his name, Hsieh chooses to live in a 240-square-foot Airstream trailer that costs less than $1,000 per month.

"Right now I live in an Airstream," he tells Guy Raz on an episode of NPR’s "How I Built This" podcast. "I just love it because there’s so many random, amazing things that happen around the campfire at night. I think of it as the world’s largest living room."

Hsieh says that he prioritizes spending on experiences over things. He recalls a recent conversation with a friend where they discussed the hypothetical question, "If your house was on fire and you could only save one thing, what would it be?"

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

As Hsieh surveyed his possessions, he couldn't think of a single item he cared about enough to single out.

"My phone, maybe?" he says. "Sometimes people ask me what my definition of success is, and for me it’s getting to the point where you're truly okay with losing everything you have."

Hsieh’s streamlined housing choice serves as a means of enhancing his creativity and living out the open, community-like culture he’s built at Zappos, where "create fun and a little weirdness" is the office mantra.

"A lot of companies talk about work-life balance. We're more about work-life integration," he told The New York Times back in 2015.

Hsieh’s frugal habits also put him in good company. Self-made millionaire James Altucher got rid of everything he owned and started living in Airbnbs.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett lives in the same house he purchased in 1958. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opts for jeans and t-shirts in place of expensive suits. And Amancio Ortega, the second-richest man in the world, still eats lunch with his employees in the company cafeteria every day.

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Emmie Martin Emmie MartinReporter for CNBC Make It

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