Business Maverick


Big in the Big Apple and Japan — New York and Tokyo snag the world’s most high-net-worth individuals

Big in the Big Apple and Japan — New York and Tokyo snag the world’s most high-net-worth individuals
Downtown Manhattan Skyline seen from Paulus Hook, 20 December 2019. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Want to know where the world’s rich put down roots? They might play in Monaco, St Tropez and Dubai, but most of them feel at home in economic powerhouses such as the United States, China, Japan and the United Kingdom.

The US and China dominate the globe’s richest cities, with only one solitary European city — London – on the 2023 World’s Top 10 Wealthiest Cities list, published on Tuesday by international investment migration firm, Henley & Partners, and global wealth intelligence firm, New World Wealth.

The World’s Wealthiest Cities report covers high-net-worth individual (HNWI) population data in 97 cities across nine regions worldwide (Africa, Australasia, CIS, East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South Asia and Southeast Asia) and includes most of the world’s top wealth hubs.

HNWIs are defined as having investable wealth of over $1-million (R18.2-million).

New World Wealth is an independent wealth research firm methodically tracking global wealth migration trends between countries and between cities. It follows the movements and spending habits of over 150,000 HNWIs with the work titles: founder, chairperson, CEO and director. The data also takes into account public prime property statistics such as the number of higher-priced homes in each area.

In the US, New York City has the world’s wealthiest, with 340,000 millionaires, with the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles in third and sixth places, with 285,000 and 205,400 HNWI residents, respectively. 

Between 2012 and 2022, New York grew its HNWI population by 40%: it has 724 centimillionaires ($100-million) and 58 billionaires. The Bay Area, known for Ivy League universities, Silicon Valley and Napa Valley, has grown its HNWIs by 68% over the same period. It now has 629 centimillionaires and 63 billionaires. 

Tokyo, the world’s wealthiest city a decade ago, has dropped to second place with 290,300 resident millionaires, 250 centimillionaires and 14 billionaires, while London – the world’s wealthiest city for many years – has dropped to fourth place with 258,000 resident HNWIs. 

Business-friendly Singapore, one of the top destinations for migrating millionaires, is in fifth place with 240,100 resident millionaires, and Sydney is in 10th place with 126,900 millionaires. Sydney, which has experienced vigorous wealth growth over the past 20 years, is expected to enter the top five wealthiest cities list by 2040.

The combined wealth of Australia’s 50 richest cities swelled to $213-billion, a hefty 70% jump from 2019 when Forbes last published its Rich List.

Over the past decade, cities in Asia Pacific have made vast strides: China has three cities in the Top 10, with Hong Kong (129,500 millionaires), Beijing (128,200), and Shanghai (127,200) in seventh, eighth and ninth places, respectively. Both Beijing and Shanghai have climbed the rankings over the past decade, but Hong Kong has dropped from fourth place in 2012 to seventh place in 2023.

Contrast that with Johannesburg — at 55 on the list of wealthy countries — which has 14,600 HNWIs: 30 centimillionaires and two billionaires; and Cape Town at 65 on the list, with 7,200 HNWIs: 26 centimillionaires and just one billionaire.

Seven of the Top 10 wealthiest cities in the world are in countries that host formal investment migration programmes and actively encourage foreign direct investment in return for residence or citizenship rights, notes Dr Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners. 

“The right to live, work, study and invest in leading international wealth hubs such as New York, London, Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong can be secured via residence by investment. Being able to relocate yourself, your family or your business to a more favourable city, or have the option to choose between multiple different residences across the world, is an increasingly important aspect of international wealth and legacy planning for private clients.”

The US and China also dominate the Top 10 list of fastest-growing cities with resident millionaires over the past decade. 

The fastest-growing cities for the super-wealthy

These cities experienced especially strong wealth growth over the past decade (2012 to 2022):


Monaco: The world’s top safe haven for the super-rich. The average wealth exceeds $10-million, making it the top-ranked city in the world on a wealth-per-capita basis. It is also the world’s most expensive city, with apartment prices regularly exceeding $35,000 per square metre.

Warsaw: Poland’s capital and economic hub. Fast-growing sectors in the city include financial services, real estate and tech.

Dublin: Home to the European headquarters of many of the world’s largest tech companies, Dublin has seen vigorous wealth growth over the past 20 years.


Scottsdale: Home to a growing number of exclusive golf and lifestyle estates, the city attracts tech entrepreneurs from California, as well as wealthy retirees.

Austin: Dubbed “Silicon Hills”, several major tech companies have moved their headquarters to Austin over the past few years, notably Tesla and Oracle. 

West Palm Beach: Popular with wealthy East Coast retirees. 

Greenwich and Darien on Connecticut’s Gold Coast are increasingly popular with fund managers, investment bankers, and wealthy financiers.

Middle East and Africa

Dubai: Its safe haven status and low tax rates make it a magnet for migrating millionaires from the world over, including the Gupta family. In just one year, 2022, about 3,500 HNWIs moved to the city.

Marrakesh: An increasingly popular retirement hotspot for Moroccan and European HNWIs. Marrakesh has flourishing luxury property and hotel sectors.

Kigali: The economic centre of Rwanda and a burgeoning tech and financial hub. Rwanda was Africa’s fastest-growing market over the past decade, both in terms of millionaire growth and overall wealth growth.

Asia Pacific

Shenzhen: The hi-tech capital of China and home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange – the sixth-largest stock market in the world by market cap. Global tech giants based in the city include Huawei, Tencent and ZTE.

Bengaluru: Also known as the “Garden City” and the “Silicon Valley of India”, Bengaluru has a booming tech sector.

Hangzhou: Known for its architecture and gardens, the city attracts HNWIs and tech firms such as Alibaba, the Ant Group and NetEase. It’s China’s most important tourist city, topping the charts with millionaire growth of 105% between 2012 and 2022, while high-tech capital, Shenzhen, and the port city of Guangzhou, saw significant HNWI expansion over the past decade, at 98% and 86%, respectively.

Ho Chi Minh City: Emerging as Asia’s next big millionaire hotspot. The city attracts financial services, textiles, technology, electronics, telecoms, chemicals and tourism. BM/DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • 13abarry says:

    Bay Area is San Francisco and the region around it. Wish the article made this explicit because “The Bay Area” is very vague.

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