Inside Wealth

Where are the ultra-rich finding their next home?

Leslie Shaffer | Writer for
View of seaport in the sunlight, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cote d'Azur, South France
Thomas Stankiewicz | LOOK | Getty Images

The French Riviera hasn't lost its cachet, topping the list of prime residential enclaves for the ultra-wealthy, according to research from Savills.

Cote d'Azur ranks highest on the Prime Enclave Index, ranking properties on average prices of luxury properties and hotels as well as exclusivity and global draw, according to research produced by Candy & Candy, Savills World Research and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management.

"This sought-after region is the ultimate and most expensive leisure enclave for home transactions among the ultra-wealthy, attracting buyers from across Europe, North America and most actively at present, from the Middle East and Russia," the report said.

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A typical five-bedroom luxury property there costs around $28.5 million, outstripping nearby Monaco, which ranked fifth on the list with a $25.0 million price tag on a similar property, the report said.

Rounding out the top twenty places the ultra-rich want their next home are many of the usual haunts, such as Aspen in the U.S., St. Barts in the Caribbean and Italy's Venice as well as a few off the beaten path, such as the Seychelles, the Maldives and Emirates Hills in Dubai.

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Most of the ultra-high-net-worth individuals hail from North America, but they tend to stick closer to home, primarily doing their extra home shopping in the Caribbean and North American hot spots, the report said.

Like their North American counterparts, the Middle Eastern ultra-rich also tend to buy their extra homes closer to home, looking in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, although they're also beginning to nibble in the Mediterranean, according to the research.

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Russian wealth drives luxury property buying in many of the European destinations, but it's also active in the Caribbean, it said.

But the one growing group of ultra-rich you won't find high up on the list are the Chinese.

Chinese home buyers tend to focus on cities, and the chances for capital appreciation are generally weighed carefully, said Paul Tostevin, an associate at Savills World Research, in the report.

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"Current cultural norms mean that indoor leisure pursuits are favored over sun and sea and, as a consequence, Chinese buyers have been found to seek a different product to those from the West," he said, although he noted Hainan, an island in the South China Sea, part of which has been dubbed the "Chinese Riviera," has been an exception.

Asian buyers in general tend to consider additional home purchases as part of an investment portfolio, the report noted. "A number of our clients have looked into buying properties in France and backed out at the last minute because they weren't comfortable with the tax and legal systems – they'd rather just stay in a beautiful hotel when they are in Paris," Mahesh Satya, Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management's Head of Lending in Asia Pacific, said in the report.

—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1