When it comes to the world's wealthiest cities, New York City undoubtedly comes out on top, but billionaires apparently prefer the Bay.
According to a recent survey conducted by Henley & Partners, the Big Apple boasts 340,000 high-net-worth individuals, contributing to a growth rate of 40% over the past decade. It seems that the affluent population loves the Big Apple, but when it comes to the upper-upper echelons of the super-rich, the West Coast is where it's at.
Home to tech giants like Google and Facebook, the Bay Area has the highest number of billionaires worldwide, with a total of 63, compared to New York's 58. The Silicon Valley region's dominance in venture capital and the tech industry is undoubtedly a major contributor to its wealth and status as a leading global hub.
In the survey, Tokyo ranked as the second wealthiest city, with 290,300 high-net-worth individuals, while London came in at fourth place, with 258,000. Singapore rounded out the top five with 240,100 HNWIs, surging past Hong Kong.
Tokyo and London both made the list despite an overall drop in wealthy residents, with Tokyo losing 5 percent and London losing 15 percent over the past decade. The Bay Area and Singapore, on the other hand, have seen impressive spikes, with the California region shooting up 68 percent and Singapore growing by 40 percent.
It's clear that the super-rich are attracted to certain areas, but what makes a city wealthy?
It's actually quite similar to some of the factors we look at when considering markets for multifamily investments. There are a few factors at play, including access to job opportunities, a robust economy and a thriving cultural/food scene, among others. These factors help to attract and retain affluent individuals and their families, who, in turn, contribute to the city's wealth and prosperity.
The United States dominated the list, with 10 cities cracking the top 50 richest in the world, beating out China and Australia.
Some American cities, in particular, have seen substantial growth in their high-net-worth populations since 2012. Austin, Texas, came in second place overall in this regard, with a 102% increase in HNWIs. Miami and West Palm Beach in Florida also experienced impressive growth rates of 75% and 90%, respectively. This could be attributed in part to the pandemic-induced shift towards remote work, which allowe
d business leaders to relocate to warmer climates like Florida.
In contrast, Russia, which has long been known for its wealthy population, has seen a significant decline over the past decade, partly due to its war with Ukraine and other factors. Moscow experienced a 44% decline in its high-net-worth population, while St. Petersburg saw a decrease of 38%.
A city's real estate market & lifestyle also plays a role in attracting wealthy individuals. While office buildings have been under pressure, New York City & the Bay Area have some of the most expensive residential real estate in the world, with luxury properties selling for tens of millions of dollars. Wealthy individuals are attracted to the prestige and exclusivity that comes with owning a property in a city that can offer them almost anything they want.
However, economic downturns can have a significant impact on a city's high-net-worth population. The 2008 financial crisis saw a decline in the number of millionaires and billionaires in New York City, as well as a drop in real estate prices.
The pandemic also shifted the way people think about where they want to live. With remote work becoming more prevalent, many individuals and families are no longer tied to specific locations for their careers.
This has led to a rise in interest in areas outside of traditional hubs like New York and London, as people seek out more space, better weather, and a change of pace. Even with the current trend of returning to offices in some industries, many companies have been moving their headquarters to metros that may offer more business friendly policies in addition to lower costs and warmer climates.
As the world continues to change, it will be interesting to see how these shifts in wealth and population play out.
Will New York City maintain its status as the world's richest city, or will other areas rise to take its place? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: wherever the super-rich decide to settle, they will bring with them their own unique brand of influence and prosperity.
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About Ellie Perlman
Ellie Perlman is the founder of Blue Lake Capital, a commercial real estate investment firm specializing in multifamily investing throughout the United States. At Blue Lake Capital, Ellie partners with both institutional and individual investors to grow their wealth by achieving double-digit returns by investing alongside her in exclusive multifamily deals they usually don't have access to.
A defining factor of Blue Lake Capital’s strategy is founded in utilizing machine learning/artificial intelligence throughout the course of all acquisitions and asset management. This advanced technology enables the company to produce accurate and data-driven forecasting for all assets on a market, property, and even tenant basis. In doing so, Blue Lake is able to lead commercial investments with the full capabilities of today’s technology.
Ellie is the founding host of REady2Scale, a podcast that highlights the assets, processes, and strategies for the multiple approaches to successful real estate investing.
She started her career as a commercial real estate lawyer, leading real estate transactions for one of Israel’s leading development companies. Later, as a property manager for Israel’s largest energy company, she oversaw properties worth over $100MM. Additionally, Ellie is an experienced entrepreneur who helped build and scale companies by improving their business operations.
Ellie holds a Masters in Law from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.
You can read more about Blue Lake Capital and Ellie Perlman at www.bluelake-capital.com.