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BusinessFeature

Taiwan, understated Eldorado for the ultra-rich

According to the latest Knight Frank ranking, Taipei ranks ninth on the list of cities with the most ultra-wealthy residents. But those who live here shun extravagance, opting instead for a low profile and discreet diligence.

Fabio Bonavita

By Fabio Bonavita22 mai 2020

1800

number of ultra-wealthy by 2023

30 million $

and over, the wealth of 1,519 residents

Unlike their more ostentatious ilk in Dubai, Moscow or Miami, the millionaires of Taipei are famous for their restraint. Walk around the streets of the Taiwanese capital, and you’ll be hard­put to find a truly extravagant automobile; you’ll also notice that the Michelin-starred restaurants (and their patrons) are notoriously nonchalant. That same modesty extends to the boutiques of the biggest luxury brands: patrons of Hermès, for example, walk out with their purchases in simple paper bags. “They don't want to be walking down the street with an orange bag that is too conspicuous,” explains Annie Leung, president of the Bellavita shopping center, in a statement to the Bloomberg agency. “Wealthy customers like to spend their money, but they do not like to be seen.” This attitude stands in stark contrast to the clichés of the comedy “Crazy Rich Asians”, the all-Asian Hollywood feature film that lampoons the opulent lifestyles of the golden youth of Singapore, the “Monaco of Asia”.

By 2023, the percentage of Taipei's ultra-rich is expected to exceed 22%. (DR)

Mindful consumption

Wealthy customers like to spend their money, but they do not like to be seen”

Annie Leung, President of the Bellavita Shopping Center

This discreet and unassuming way of life might have its roots in Taiwan’s legacy of Confucianism. The pillar of this philosophy reminds us that wealth brings neither happiness nor wisdom. Translated into modern life, this calls for a kind of “mindful consumption”. The millionaires of Taiwan would rather spend it on luxury jewelry or refined restaurants than roaring, flashy cars. And when it comes to spending time, they devote much of it to managing their businesses. This, in a way, creates the foundation for the economic vitality of the entire island, according to the American think-tank Heritage Foundation. “Small and medium-sized enterprises are considered the backbone of Taiwan's dynamic economy. The country’s commercial code is very progressive, and the measures intended to promote an open market facilitate the free movement of goods and capital.”

Taiwanese millionaires prefer to consume luxury goods modestly. (Unsplash)

Rapid growth

This liberal mindset appeals to many of the  world’s wealthiest. According to the latest ranking by the British real estate company Knight Frank, Taipei ranks ninth on the list of cities with the most ultra-rich, with 1,519 residents worth more than $30 million, putting the Taiwanese capital behind only London, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, Beijing, Paris, and Seoul. In recent years it has surpassed Zurich, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and even Moscow. This is partly due to the boom in Taiwanese exports over the past three decades. The island’s business elite, who are particularly active in the technology sector, have seen their fortunes rise dramatically on the tide of the tech boom. They typically work in the Xinyi district, Taipei’s financial center, and live in posh houses in the heart of Yangmingshan National Park, north of the capital, or in a luxury apartment in one of the two skyline-defining towers at One Park Taipei. And their prospects look good. Knight Frank predicts that the number of ultra-wealthy living in Taipei will rise to over 1,800 by 2023.

Taipei is the first choice for expatriates. (Pixabay)

Expats love Taipei

The latest annual ranking by InterNations, the world’s largest information platform for expatriates in 420 cities around the world, makes crystal-clear that Taipei is the number one choice for the world’s expatriates, beating Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and Singapore. For the second year running, the Taiwanese capital comes in first place in InterNations’ ranking of 82 cities. The ranking is based on six aspects that are considered crucial: quality of life, ease of settlement, working environment, housing, cost of living, and financial appeal. According to the survey, expatriates living in Taipei appreciate its quality of life above all, but also praise the Taiwanese capital for the quality of its public transportation (98% satisfaction), the accessibility of its health services (94%), the sense of security (96%) and the low cost of living (71%). An Indian expatriate quoted by InterNations said, “Life in Taiwan is cheaper than in Japan, South Korea or Hong Kong, and Taiwan’s health system and overall security make Taipei particularly attractive to me.”

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