In response to a rapidly changing global landscape, with business and talent relocation on the rise Henley & Partners, a global leader in residence and citizenship planning, in partnership with Deep Knowledge Analytics released the Best Residence-by-Investment Cities for Business Index.
The new index ranks the leading 25 capitals and cities around the world whereby international entrepreneurs, company owners, professionals and HNWIs can acquire residence through investment migration programs.
A residence by investment program is a process that requires a foreign national to invest in another country in order to gain residence. Using an interactive tool, users can select the different factors that matter most to them to make strategic, data-driven decisions about where best to locate their headquarters, executives, employees, and themselves and their families in the current and post-pandemic landscape.
A useful, data-driven tool for strategic relocation decisions
Spanning five regions, the Best Residence-by-Investment Cities for Business Index taps into over 1,000 data points and more than 40 different parameters and sub-parameters to rank cities according to 10 main categories that represent the most pressing relocation considerations: lifestyle, tax, education, real estate, healthcare, security, infrastructure, and stability, as well as Covid safety and the relevant investment migration program.
Dr. Parag Khanna, FutureMap Founder and author of upcoming book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us says that at a time when nations are plagued by great disparities in wealth and culture, the focus on leading cities rather than countries is very welcome.
“Technological connectivity is creating new vectors of mobility for millions of people. Though we are evolving towards a world in which ever more work is conducted in the cloud, management and employees still have to be somewhere, and given the diverse risks businesses face, from pandemics to conflict to climate change, they must think very carefully about where to expand or relocate, seeking hubs that offer a high degree of reliability in their capacity for business continuity under diverse scenarios.”
Diversifying your domicile portfolio
CEO of Henley & Parners Dr. Juerg Steffen who has published definitive books on high-net-worth relocation to Austria and Switzerland, says the index is invaluable to those considering investment migration as a means of creating optionality in terms of where they and their families can live, work, study, and invest.
“Residence-by-investment programs provide a channel for building a migration portfolio of multiple complementary residence and citizenship options to hedge against volatility and take advantage of new opportunities in the pandemic world order.”
London reigns supreme overall
The five cities that take the top spots in the index — London, New York, Sydney, Singapore, and Zurich — indicate the wide geographical range of available residence-by-investment program options.
In first place with the highest score by an impressive margin is London. Performing well in many parameters, the financial capital’s three highest scores are in education, security, and stability. The UK Investor Immigration Program introduced in 1994 is one of the longest running, most established residence-by-investment options, providing access to a dynamic business environment and world-class education.
New York is excellent for business and education
Education, security, and stability are New York’s top strengths, galvanizing it into the second spot. A global center for finance and commerce, the big apple offers access to no less than 130 higher education institutions and scores highest overall in the index for education.
The US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created in 1990 to stimulate the economy by allowing foreign entrepreneurs to reside in the USA permanently after investing in an American business, although its Regional Center Program has lapsed. Alternatively, participants in Grenada, Montenegro, or Turkey’s citizenship-by-investment programs are then eligible to apply for the E-2 Investor Visa that allows applicants to live, work, and study in America.
Sydney, Singapore, Zurich considered secure, stable, sustainable
Sydney, Singapore, and Zurich, in third, fourth, and fifth places, respectively, all score highest in security, infrastructure, and stability, with Sydney taking the number one spot overall for security. Australia has been focused on attracting the brightest and best to strengthen its economy and grow its future-focused sectors.
Successful entrepreneurs can apply for any of Australia’s residence-by-investment options to obtain permanent residence, while the Global Talent visa was specifically designed to attract dynamic, highly skilled tech individuals to relocate to Australia’s safe shores.
Southeast Asia’s powerhouse Singapore scores highest overall in terms of Covid safety, lifestyle, and infrastructure. Renowned for its low crime rates and ease of conducting business, the city-state houses the headquarters of over 35,000 global companies and recorded a USD 24 billion in real estate sales in the first six months of 2021.
Turning to Europe, with its high standard of living and burgeoning healthcare sector, Switzerland’s capital Zurich is the top performing residence-by-investment city in terms of healthcare and stability and is perennially a highly sought-after option for ultra-high-net-worth investors and entrepreneurs.
Vienna and Lisbon offer top residence programs
Joint-first in terms of Austria’s and Portugal’s residence-by-investment offerings are Vienna and Lisbon, which both also score highly in security and stability — increasingly important drivers for investment migration and business relocation.
Both European cities are popular choices for multinational firms to base their headquarters — Vienna’s appeal lies in its highly skilled labor force and excellent productivity levels, while Lisbon has a flourishing tech sector thanks to Portugal’s business-friendly policies and the top talent emerging from its universities. Rome and Zurich are joint-second thanks to Italy and Switzerland’s attractive residence programs, while Athens is third, with the Greece Golden Visa Program being a particularly popular option.
Dubai, Riga, Limassol, Athens, Bangkok, and Port Louis offer tax-friendly, affordable, high-standard-of-living options
While just missing out on the Top 10, Dubai in 11th place is not to be overlooked. The Middle Eastern emirate’s pioneering capital scored highest overall in the index in tax, owing to its zero corporate tax, as well as ranking second when it comes to Covid safety.
The relative smallness and historic charm of Latvia’s capital Riga (17th) compared to other important European cities is increasingly appealing to foreign investors and high-net-worth families, with its pro-business environment and attractive tax allowances.
Limassol (19th), Cyprus’s vibrant cosmopolitan port city, has developed into a leading regional financial center, with an attractive tax regime and excellent infrastructure in addition to benefiting from Cyprus’s EU membership. Cyprus has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the EU and its government is business friendly.
Europe’s oldest capital Athens (20th) offers a more relaxed, less bureaucratic business environment, with numerous tax cuts and other incentives for foreign investors. Safe, affordable, welcoming and exceptionally beautiful, Greece is hard to beat when it comes to lifestyle and is rapidly regaining ground as a desirable investment destination too.
The bustling city of Bangkok (23rd) is a cost-effective gateway to Asia with a stable economy, and Thailand offers numerous government incentives for foreign business owners, including tax exemptions and import duty concessions.
And finally, Port Louis (24th) in Mauritius is an attractive, safe, well-governed, politically stable African hub, perfectly positioned between Asia and Europe, with appealing tax incentives. As a top-level Exclusive Economic Zone, the presence of numerous multinational companies endorses Port Louis as an excellent location for business.
Cities that welcome foreign workers and investors positioned to succeed
The pandemic-era population declines seen in global capitals was less a consequence of residents fleeing than the absence of new migrants to replace them, according to Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities.
“The health and wealth of cities are inextricably bound to the migration and security policies of their federal governments — as New York, London, and Hong Kong have all recently discovered to their lasting regret. In a world gradually pivoting from the pandemic to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts will be several decades of mounting climate disasters, safe harbors will be at a premium.”
Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, says the key takeout from the Best Residence-by-Investment Cities for Business Index is that there are abundant opportunities for affluent and talented individuals considering relocation.
“Along with seeking out new domicile options for their families, more and more investors are considering relocating their businesses. This trend had begun pre-pandemic, but it is accelerating. All 25 cities are proactively welcoming foreign investors, and while some are clearly leading the pack, each has its strengths and particular appeal.”
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