Why millionaires quit Europe for sunnier climes

Millionaires are leaving Europe because of rising religious tension and concerns about the sluggish economy and the influx of migrants from Syria, a wealth analysis expert said.

Andrew Amoils, the head of research at New World Wealth, forecast millionaires would leave France, Germany and Belgium in "large numbers", with Australia and Israel among the most popular destinations.

Three out of the four cities that saw the biggest net outflows of millionaires in 2015 were European — Paris, Rome and Athens, according to a New World Wealth report on Wednesday.

Grant V. Faint | Getty Images

The French capital saw the biggest net outflows, losing 6 percent of its millionaire population, or around 7,000 people.

Millionaire migration may provide an indicator of upcoming trends among the rest of the population, as the wealthy are typically more geographically mobile than others. Millionaire emigration also hits government tax revenues and may be associated with loss of jobs and money outflows that can impact property prices and the financial markets.

Cities with biggest millionaire outflows:

  • Paris: -7,000
  • Rome: -5,000
  • Chicago: -3,000
  • Athens: -2,000

"France is being heavily impacted by rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims, especially in urban areas," Amoils said in the report.

"We expect that millionaire migration away from France will accelerate over the next decade as these tensions escalate."

Paris's Muslim populace has been in heightened focus since the terrorist attacks in the city in January and November 2015 and the assault on nearby Brussels, Belgium in March 2016.

France and Germany have the largest Islamic populations among European Union countries, with around 4.7 million Muslims living in each, according to Pew Research Center. The majority of French Muslims live in Paris and they make up around 7.5 percent of the total French population.

France also houses Europe's biggest Jewish population at 310,000, the majority of which is based in Paris. Fears of anti-Semitism have worsened in the city since the siege at a kosher hypermarket in Paris in which four Jewish hostages were killed in January 2015. The main suspect for the attack, Amedy Coulibaly, claimed allegiance to the so-called Islamic State terror group.

Around 80 percent of the millionaires that moved to Israel last year were from Europe, Amoils told CNBC, attributing their relocation to rising anti-Semitism.

Tel Aviv, Israel's financial capital and second-most populous city, enjoyed net inflows of 2,000 millionaires during the year — the most of any city in the world outside Australia. Israeli cities such as Herzliya, Jerusalem and Netanya also experienced inflows.

Cities with biggest millionaire inflows:

  • Sydney +4,000
  • Melbourne +3,000
  • Tel Aviv +2,000
  • Dubai +2,000
  • San Francisco +2,000
  • Vancouver +2,000

Sydney and Melbourne enjoyed the biggest net inflows in the world, adding 4,000 and 3,000 millionaires each in 2015. Millionaires also headed to Perth, Brisbane and Noosa, as well as the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

Australia appealed because of its safeness, strong education and health systems, small population and pleasant climate, Amoils told CNBC. With economic growth seen averaging 2.6 percent per year in 2016-20 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, its strong economy is another attraction.

Residential property along the harbourfront in Sydney.
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

The price of prime residential properties in Sydney rose by 14.8 percent in 2015, while those in Melbourne gained 11.9 percent, according to luxury real estate agency Knight Frank. These were among the biggest gains seen in any of the world's leading property markets. By contrast, prices for prime residences in Paris declined by an average of 2.1 percent during the year.

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