BARNES exclusive: the top 50 cities for the very wealthy

The health crisis coupled with an unprecedented economic crisis has shaken up the deck among the top international cities with wealthy clients. New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Paris may have vied for the top spots for decades, but not one of these cities has made it to the Top 5 on the BARNES City Index 2021.

This is perhaps one of the most important findings of the new edition of the Global Property Handbook, the annual BARNES study that breaks down the trends in luxury real estate worldwide: seemingly unmoveable sure values have been knocked off the top spots, leaving seven cities previously in the BARNES City Index 2020 TOP 10 out of the running this year. New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Toronto, San Francisco, Lisbon and Madrid are no longer among the favourites. This upheaval can be explained by the sudden and particularly fierce nature of this crisis.

Five cities have thus won over and reassured investors during this uncertain time, placing them in the top positions: Zurich (photo above) has shot up from 30th to 1st place, Copenhagen - a new entrant on the BARNES City Index 2020 - has leapt from 35th to 2nd place, Miami is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the crisis moving into 4th place, Stockholm has taken 5th place for its good handling of the health crisis, Amsterdam has made its grand entrance into the rankings at 9th place, while Geneva’s rise to 8th place in the TOP 10 (making that two Swiss cities) reflects the effective response of the Swiss Confederation to this global crisis.

Four cities traditionally in the top rankings have stood firm: Tokyo and London, which have respectively held onto 3rd and 6th position, Paris down from 1st place to 7th, and Sydney (13th in 2020) which has gained three places to return to the TOP 10. New cities are also popular with HNWI and UHNWI, such as Seoul, Oslo, Hamburg, Milan and Bordeaux, which have moved into the index at 13th, 18th, 22nd, 37th and 50th respectively.

Download the BARNES City Index 2021 EN

Quality of life, Northern Europe leading the way

The only survivor from the 2020 TOP 5, Tokyo (3rd) is seen as an old-world city amidst the other four cities ranked for their quality of life. Zurich, Copenhagen, Miami and Stockholm seem to be better equipped than the rest to offer what wealthy families are now looking for in international cities: quality of life, a pleasant environment and security.

With three cities in the TOP 10 (Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam), Northern Europe is consolidating its status as a new driving force when it comes to urban quality of life, whereas the US is doing some serious soul-searching: Miami is now the most popular US city among wealthy Americans, who are turning their backs on New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco en masse, all three of which fall outside of the TOP 10 in 2021. New York is a symbolic example, down from 2nd to 11th in the index. Who could have imagined that the flagship city on the American East Coast, an icon in the world of real estate for decades, could be knocked off its perch?

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Picture : courtesy @ZurichTourism

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