Airport departure area. Representational image. Photo: iStock
Airport departure area. Representational image. Photo: iStock
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Once again, the US tops out the list of destinations for Chinese high-net worth individuals (HNWI) looking to move abroad. Canada came in second and Britain dropped down to third. In many ways, Brexit and a cheaper pound have been very good for the UK in regards to Chinese tourism, which has risen dramatically this year. But a cheaper pound alone was not enough to entice more rich Chinese to consider moving to the UK.

The Hurun Report interviewed 304 individuals with net worths ranging from US$1.5 million to $30 million to produce these findings, which were released in its report: Immigration and the Chinese HNWI 2017. The report only considered countries that had investment immigration policies.

The top destinations for HNWI immigration in order of preference were the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Malta, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Antigua, and Dominica

The top destinations for HNWI immigration in order of preference were the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Malta, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Antigua, and Dominica. This is the first time Antigua and Dominica have made the top 10 list.

The US dominated the list of most popular cities for HNWI immigration. New York was the fourth most preferred city and San Francisco fell to third this year with Seattle moving up to second. Los Angeles has remained the most preferred city for Chinese HNWI immigration for four years running.

The two biggest concerns for HNWIs looking for immigration destinations were education and living environment, which were the top considerations for 76% and 64% of respondents respectively. Pollution, the falling value of the yuan, and the quality of education are the primary drivers of HNWI immigration from China.

Sixty percent of respondents were optimistic about China’s economic prospects but 44% nonetheless believed growth would slow down. The Chinese government recently announced that the Chinese economy grew by 6.9% this year as compared to the same quarter last year. In total, Chinese GDP grew by 1.7% this quarter. However, concerns remain that debt and over-dependence on an inflated real estate market could hinder future growth. Some economists fear that the Chinese housing bubble could burst, damaging both the Chinese and global economies.

While such concerns do not appear to be the primary driver of HNWI immigration, it seems that fears about the health of the Chinese economy are growing amongst the nation’s HNWIs.

A whopping 84% of respondents reported concerns about the devaluation of the yuan and approximately 50% were primarily concerned about the Chinese housing market. It seems likely that wealthy Chinese will continue to view overseas investment as a relatively safe option for maintaining wealth, especially through real estate investment.

Lack of investment knowledge was the biggest concern of respondents in regards to overseas investments, with 37% reporting this as their primary concern. However, Beijing’s newest capital control efforts have also heavily influenced HNWIs risk perceptions of overseas investment. Twenty percent of respondents reported that such controls were their biggest concern.

This article was originally published on Jing Travel.

Mason Hinsdale is a China expert who has done research on modern Chinese business history and consumer culture. He studied in both Taiwan and mainland China and received his master's degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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