Where we live says a great deal about our lives as an address is shorthand for status, choices and ambition. Whether that place may be a Stepford-style leafy suburb, a thriving city or on the beachfront, where we choose to live and do business says as much about who we are as a surname and a pair of shoes.
There are some crazy numbers around global property prices. A million dollars can buy 17 m2 in Monaco, or 204 m2 in Cape Town. They’re both beautiful seaside cities, so what’s the deal? How can one country’s property cost more than US$5 800 a single metre? Obviously, supply and demand have the biggest influences on a property’s value. If everyone wants to live in New York (and 8.4 million people can’t be wrong), then an apartment will easily cost US$1 million for just 34 m2. If an area ticks all the boxes – centrality, access to services, opportunity and perceived desirability – up go the prices.
So, where are the 10 most expensive places to live and work? After all, it isn’t only personal addresses that are so important – there are business addresses that are shorthand for astronomical success: Silicon Valley, West End, 5th Avenue… With East Asian cities roaring up the ranks, business is truly global and, in property, business is booming.
Sometimes, where we end up is more important than where we came from.
The Knight Frank report, a comprehensive guide to wealth on earth, has listed the top 10 most expensive cities in the world by property prices:
10. Los Angeles, USA | US$1m/57 m2
Ah, city of the stars and home to most of Hollywood. Notable suburbs include Venice Beach and Beverly Hills. How about a European-style villa in Bel Air, going for just $18.5 million?
9. Paris, France | US$1m/50 m2
We’ll always have Paris, won’t we? A city that needs no introduction, there are apartments that start at €18 700 000 – a cool R272 million for just 1 214 m2.
8. Shanghai, China | US$1m/48 m2
In such a global business centre, a personal or business address in Shanghai would not be remiss. How about an apartment? One on the Tomson Riviera sold for 150 328 yuan (R304 128) per square metre in July 2015.
7. Sydney, Australia | US$1m/41 m2
With a view over the harbour and Opera House, Sydney property does not come cheap. A villa overlooking the harbour was sold for a spectacular $30 million dollars. Plenty of space to park your Aston Martin.
6. Geneva, Switzerland | US$1m/39 m2
Home to chocolate, multi-tools and spectacular mountains, the tiny country of Switzerland requires a lot of cash for very little land. However, that’s not an issue for some. This house, modelled on the summer residence of Lord Byron, will set you back a cool $80 million for just eight bedrooms.
5. Singapore | US$1m/39 m2
This tiny city punches well above its weight in global influence. According to Luxury Portfolio, a flat in Singapore can go for US$17.1 million for just 549 m2 (R402 000 per square metre.)
4. New York, USA | US$1m/34 m2
The Big Apple requires a big wallet. The triplex penthouse at 520 Park Avenue will cost $130 million dollars ($10, 459 per square foot), and each of the 31 apartments in the building will encompass an entire floor. Due to be completed in 2017, you still have some time to save for it!
3. London, UK | US$1m/21 m2
Sharing a city with the Queen is bound to send up prices. How about an Italianate villa in Holland Park? Only £26.5 million (or R538 million) – and big enough for all your friends to stay over.
2. Hong Kong | US$1m/20 m2
Hong Kong means ‘fragrant harbour’ and is famous for its skyline and deep natural harbour. Pick an apartment from one of its skyscrapers for just R348 937 per square metre. Pack light!
1. Monaco | US$1m/17 m2
Of course, this is the kind of place where 30% of the population are millionaires. Tiny, densely populated and global shorthand for obscene wealth, this is the ultimate playground for the wealthy. Moor your yacht in the famous Port of Hercules and buy the Tour Odeon penthouse, complete with water slide, for US$387 million (R4.38 billion).