10. Berlin, Germany
> Estimated rank in 10 years: 10
> Avg. prime property price: n/a
> Population: 3,449,540 (96th largest)
Political power is what makes Berlin so important, according to those questioned by The Wealth Report. It is “the seat of the European Union’s most powerful economy,” as writer Saskia Sassen notes in the report. In other categories, such as knowledge and influence and economic activity, the city does less well, although it remains among the top 20.
9. Beijing, China
> Estimated rank in 10 years: 3
> Avg. prime property price: $1,600/sq. ft. (26th most)
> Population: 12,385,263 (13th largest)
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China — the most populous country in the world. As a result, it is rated among the highest in the political power category. Although China is an emerging economy, Beijing does fairly well in the categories of economic activity, where it ranks sixth, and knowledge and influence, where it ranks ninth. Perhaps most notable is the fact that Beijing is rated as the city fastest growing in importance. As evidence, Beijing is expected to become the third-most important city to the wealthy in 10 years, which will put the city directly behind London and New York.
8. Shanghai, China
> Estimated rank in 10 years: 4
> Avg. prime property price: $1,800/sq. ft. (22nd most)
> Population: 16,575,110 (7th largest)
Much like Beijing, Shanghai’s status among the super-rich is increasing. Currently, Shanghai is rated fourth-highest in the economic activity category, behind only Hong Kong, New York and London. The city, which is China’s industrial and financial center, is also growing faster in importance than any other city aside from Beijing. In a survey asking what the “world’s top city” will be in 2050, The Wealth Report found the most popular answer to be Shanghai.
7. Geneva, Switzerland
> Estimated rank in 10 years: 9
> Avg. prime property price: $3,000/sq. ft. (9th most)
> Population: n/a
Geneva’s greatest strength — as perceived by the wealthy — is its quality of life. In this category, the city ranks fourth. Geneva also performs well in knowledge and influence, and, to a lesser extent, in economic activity and political power. The Wealth Report notes that because of the city’s “critical mass and mix of institutions devoted to social questions and justice for the powerless,” Geneva will emerge as a crucial player in the global community, along with Vienna and Nairobi. Prime real estate is particularly expensive in Geneva, another sign that it is a haven for the wealthy. The city is also particularly small, to the point that the UN does not provide the population of its agglomeration.
6. Miami, United States
> Estimated rank in 10 years: n/a
> Avg. prime property price: $600/sq. ft. (53rd most)
> Population: 5,749,900 (46th most)
Miami’s inclusion on this list is largely because many Latin American high-net-worth individuals consider it one of the world’s most important cities. Miami is becoming an increasingly important center for South Americans doing business in North America. Miami has seen a major influx of money from overseas, which has pushed prime property values way up. From the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, prime property values increased more than 19% — one of the world’s largest increases. The city, however, is the only one on this list that is expected to drop in importance in 10 years and to be replaced by Sao Paulo.