Where the super-rich are buying homes

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super richIf you’re looking to live like the super-rich, where would you move? For the most part, according to data from the U.S. Census, the super-rich cluster around coastal cities in the United States. And, even on a global scale, the U.S. is a destination for the super-rich — at least when it comes to buying multiple homes.

ManhattanMiami Real Estate reports that a recent Knight Frank Wealth Report ranks London the top global city for individuals with ultra-high net worth, with New York coming in second. Other cities gaining ground in the world of ultra-high net worth include Singapore and Hong Kong. These are cities poised to see more super-rich (Knight Frank considers anyone with a net worth of at least $30 million this category) in the next 10 years.

However, there are plenty of places to shop around for luxury real estate in the United States. Even though New York and Los Angeles remain popular, Florida is gaining ground, according to Linda A. Gary, a real estate agent specializing in luxury properties in Palm Beach, Florida. “Many of the ultra-wealthy have two homes to take full advantage of optimal seasonal conditions,” she says. “While they may spend summers in the Hamptons, winter destinations like Southern California and Palm Beach are more desirable during the cold.” 

What do the super-rich look for in their homes? 

Whether an individual with an ultra-high net worth is buying his or her first home or looking for a second (or third) home, it comes down to location, location, location. Gary says that the super-rich are looking for areas that can support their lifestyles, allowing them to enjoy their homes while providing access to the amenities they feel they need.

“A location is desirable based on what it has to offer,” Gary points out. “For the ultra-wealthy, that general includes things like fun seasonal activities, the presence of top tier social clubs, restaurants, events, and good seasonal weather.”

She says that one of the reasons that many of the super-rich are starting to flock to Palm Beach is that the amenities are expanding. With gold, tennis, clubs, and plenty of biking and walking trails, there is plenty to do. Plus, Palm Beach still has the availability of prime beach front properties.

Coasts are popular for these reasons. Many major coastal cities around the world provide access to all of the trappings of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Not only that, but coastal cities make it easy for the ultra-rich to keep things like boats and yachts, which they are known for having. Major cities around the world, even if they aren’t coastal, also offer the advantage of ease when it comes to travel. These are cities that provide hangars for private jets and other high-end accommodations. Plus, major cities also provide easy business access. One of the reasons London is the top city for the super-rich is due to the fact that it is still a major financial center in addition to offering almost any amenity someone could ask for (except ideal weather).

This is one of the reason that the super-rich often don’t limit themselves to one home in one location. Or, if they do, Gary says that they are starting to choose locations that have warm weather year-round. The ultra-wealthy can afford to travel in style all summer long, and then retreat to warmer climes during the colder months. “Traveling lifestyles are taken throughout summer, but many are making cities like Palm Beach their yearly residence,” Gary says. 

Safety, security, and privacy 

It’s not just amenities that the super-rich look for when deciding where to buy homes. Gary says that many of her billionaire clients are also looking for strong community services. They want to know that local police and fire departments are close at hand and adequate to their needs. 

While many of the ultra-wealthy have their own security measures in place, they still like to see areas of solid community services and infrastructure so that they can access these services when needed.

The super-rich also want to make sure that they have privacy. It’s quite the balancing act, since the ultra-wealthy want to be able to “get away” and have some privacy, but they also want to have easy access to their favorite amenities. Many of the ultra-wealthy look to buy homes in neighborhoods where they can situate their homes in the middle of a large property that provides a buffer against neighbors and noisy roads.

This is one of the reasons that Florida, particularly places like Palm Beach and Miami, are becoming more popular. Other cities can feel crowded (and Florida cities might start feeling crowded in a few years), and there is a little more room to grow, and still plenty of prime property available — something that’s difficult to find in London or New York. 

“These are the same people who have homes in major cities like Monaco, Paris, and New York City, says Jeff Miller, a luxury real estate specialist based out of Miami Beach. “Miami is continuing to gain attention as a prime destination for the rich and famous.”


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Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in financial topics. Her work has appeared in numerous media, online and offline. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds.