Where are millionaires moving to in 2022? High net worth individuals are leaving the US, Britain, China and India for the UAE, Australia and Singapore – but why?

A luxury villa in Emirates Hills, UAE. Photo: Knight Frank
The world’s wealthy are on the move. New research suggests that the number of millionaires (measured in US dollars) relocating to new countries is a trend only somewhat hampered by the pandemic, and predicts that 2023 will be a record year.
The “Henley Global Citizens Report”, jointly produced by international residence and citizenship by investment advisory firm Henley & Partners, and wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, shows Russia and Ukraine are experiencing the greatest exodus of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). Less predictably, destinations that traditionally attracted wealthy investors – notably the UK and US – are losing their lustre.

Dr Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, says HNWI migration was a rising trend over the past decade until it dipped in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19. He added that the 2022 forecast “reflects an extremely volatile environment worldwide”.

A luxurious home in Israel. Photo: Sotheby’s

“By the end of the year, 88,000 millionaires are expected to have relocated to new countries, 22,000 fewer than in 2019,” Steffen said. “Next year, the largest millionaire migration flows on record are predicted – 125,000 – as affluent investors and their families earnestly prepare for the new post-Covid world, with an as yet to be revealed rearrangement of the global order, and the ever-present threat of climate change.”

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The relevance, said Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, is that HNWI migration figures are an excellent barometer for the health of an economy. “Affluent individuals are extremely mobile and their movements can provide an early warning signal into future country trends,” he said.

“Countries that draw wealthy individuals and families to migrate to their shores tend to be robust, with low crime rates, competitive tax rates, and attractive business opportunities.”

HNWI outflows

The biggest loser, according to the report, is the UK, with net outflows of 1,500 millionaires predicted for 2022. “This trend began five years ago when the Brexit vote and rising taxes saw more HNWIs leaving the country than entering for the first time,” explained Amoils, adding that the country has suffered a total net loss of around 12,000 millionaires since 2017.

The appeal of the US is also dwindling fast, Amoils continued. “America is notably less popular among migrating millionaires today than pre-Covid, perhaps owing in part to the threat of higher taxes,” he said. “The country still attracts more HNWIs than it loses to emigration, with a net inflow of 1,500 projected for 2022, although this is a staggering 86 per cent drop from 2019 levels, which saw a net inflow of 10,800 millionaires.”

Affluent individuals are extremely mobile and their movements can provide an early warning signal into future country trends
Andrew Amoils, head of research, New World Wealth

Wealth emigration is beginning to hurt in China, Amoils added, with net outflows of 10,000 mainland HNWIs expected in 2022.

“General wealth growth in the country has been slowing over the past few years,” he said. “As such, recent outflows of HNWIs may be more damaging than in the past.”

In contrast, the data suggests that the pace of HNWI departures from Hong Kong has slowed, with projected net millionaire outflows of 3,000 in 2022 – a 29 per cent drop compared to 2019. Amoils said it is difficult to speculate on the reasons for this decline. “It could be because the coronavirus is still constraining movement,” he said. “Also, moving to countries like the UK may not be that appealing to Hong Kong expats at the moment as the UK economy is struggling.”

Brazil’s millionaire exodus is intensifying with net outflows of 2,500 HNWIs predicted – up 79 per cent compared to 2019. India is expected to suffer a net loss of around 8,000 HNWIs in 2022, up 14 per cent since 2019, however the subcontinent produces far more new millionaires than it loses to migration each year.

HNWI inflows

Emirates Hill luxury villa. Photo: Knight Frank

The report also looks at where these millionaires are heading, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leading the pack.

Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley & Partners, said the UAE is expected to see the highest net influx of HNWIs globally in 2022, with 4,000 arrivals forecast – a dramatic increase of 208 per cent on 2019’s net inflow of 1,300.

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“This mirrors the country’s remarkable rise in the Henley Passport Index rankings over the past decade as it focused on attracting tourism and trade by implementing a succession of mutually reciprocated visa waivers,” said Volek. “The UAE is now doing the same with its competitive, agile approach to adapting immigration regulations to attract private wealth, capital and talent.”

Australia is described in the report as being “a long-term high performer” consistently attracting large numbers of HNWIs. New World Wealth estimates that over 80,000 US dollar millionaires have moved to the country over the past 20 years. In 2022, the net inflow is expected to be 3,500 – the second-highest globally. Neighbouring New Zealand is also popular, expected to welcome 800 HNWIs.

Singapore is Asia’s stand-out performer with 2,800 millionaire arrivals expected this year, an 87 per cent increase compared to 1,500 in 2019.

Caesarea villa, Israel. Photo: Igal Harari for Israel Sotheby’s Realty

Next comes Israel, where an estimated 2,500 rich relocators are forecast to settle in 2022, representing an increase of 79 per cent since 2019.

Trends going forward

In the report, FutureMap founder Parag Khanna opines that globalisation “is not dead – and certainly not from the perspective of Asia, where inward capital flows are rising on the back of a post-Covid reopening and genuine investments across the region in productive capacity”.

“With multiple factory floors, multi-trillion-dollar economies, rapid urbanisation, a rising middle class and surging technological penetration, Asia’s continued ascent remains the major economic story of our age,” he said.

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According to Volek, the data shows that relentless uncertainty fuels demand for investment migration. He writes in the report that in this transitional period, as many economies move into a post-pandemic phase that is plagued by security, political and economic risks, wealthy families are revisiting their priorities to ensure their legacies, wealth and lifestyles are protected.

Caesarea villa, Israel. Photo: Igal Harari for Israel Sotheby’s Realty

“Henley & Partners processed applications for clients representing 48 different nationalities in the first quarter of 2022,” Volek noted, “and interest in investment migration continues to rise as more investors explore residence and citizenship by investment programmes that offer them the peace of mind, risk mitigation, optionality and travel mobility they desire.”

Steffen agreed that multiple factors motivate the wealthy to relocate.

“During the 2013 to 2019 period, the main drivers included the desire for better education options, a higher standard of living in a safer environment, a more temperate climate or less polluted environment, opportunities for business diversification, and financial issues such as wealth preservation and legacy protection,” he said.

“Since the outbreak of the Covid‑19 pandemic, and the latest socio-economic upheavals and geopolitical struggles across the world, the importance of having options across multiple jurisdictions in terms of where you can relocate and live is gaining traction, and for those that can afford it, residence and citizenship by investment is the simplest, fastest and most effective way to achieve it.”

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Buying guide

What you can buy for about US$61.2 million:

A fully serviced luxury villa in Sector L of Dubai’s upscale Emirates Hills, in the UAE. Over 50,000 sq ft, the home offers seven bedrooms, multiple entertainment rooms and a private infinity pool. The sumptuous interior features designer furnishings and fittings and three-metre-wide facade windows.

What you can buy for US$7.8 million:

A six-bedroom, six-bathroom residence in Caesarea, Israel, home to some of Israel’s wealthiest including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The 8,234 sq ft Moroccan-style villa is arranged over three floors with outdoor pool and an open terrace facing the sea.

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  • According to the ‘Henley Global Citizens Report’, wealthy investors are on the move again after a dip due to Covid-19, with 88,000 millionaires expected to move by the end of 2022
  • The world’s wealthy are concerned with competitive tax rates, business opportunities and climate change – and are looking into citizenship by investment too