Where in the world do the ultra rich want to stay

Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 26 February 2021: London and New York are the most important cities for ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) to live, invest and do business, coming in joint-first position in the Knight Frank City Wealth Index.

Paris follows in third position, with its rankings boosted by the lifestyle the city has to offer.

European cities are the overall leaders of the City Wealth Index this year, claiming eight of the top 20 spots – largely driven by the investment and lifestyle factors. Tokyo (4th place) and Hong Kong (5th place) take top spots amongst the Asian cities analysed. Asia claims five of the top 20 positions whilst North American cities occupy seven of these.

In the wealth category, which measures the number of UHNWI and HNWI city dwellers, the US dominates – New York comes in first position globally with 7,743 individuals with a net worth of US$30 million or more. However, when looking at the number of HNWIs – London takes lead position with over 870,000 millionaires.

“Long live the city. As urban guru Saskia Sassen explains in The Wealth Report, history shows us that cities rise, fall, but always rise again. The pandemic, far from undermining the city, has shown up the potential for rebirth – expect to hear a lot more about the 15-minute city, green cities, place-making and the coming redevelopment boom – no wonder development land is the third most popular pick for property investment this year for UHNWIs,” said Liam Bailey, Global Head of Research at Knight Frank.

Henry Faun, Partner, Knight Frank Private Office, Middle East said: “Whilst New York saw the most investment overall globally, it was London that saw the highest levels of cross-border capital flows for commercial real estate investment. London also topped our charts for the largest volume of prime residential property with a total of just below 70,000 homes worth over £2m. Given the established appeal of London as a cultural and business hub, ease of language, attractive educational system and weaker Pound Sterling in recent years, we see Middle Eastern demand for Prime London homes continuing in future years.”

New York led the investment category due to the high number of top global firms headquartered there as well as strong domestic investment. It was London, though, which saw the highest level of cross-border private capital (US$4bn) from the widest range of nationalities invested in commercial real estate over the 12 months to September 2020. In addition, London claims the top-spot for the largest number of homes considered ‘prime’ in each city*, with over 68,000 homes worth £2m or more. Dubai comes in second place (42,356 homes) and Sydney (27,436 homes) in third.

Flora Harley, Deputy Editor of The Wealth Report at Knight Frank said: “In 2020 we may have seen a temporary exodus from cities during the initial round of Covid-19 lockdowns, but it was, just that – temporary. Across 100 cities we analyse for the Knight Frank City Wealth Index, there are numerous reasons, in terms of their wealth, investment and lifestyle offerings, why UHNWIs are still choosing to spend time in urban areas.”


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