by Colin Byer
Lists of the “World’s Most Expensive Places to Live” are common. But what about the world’s “Priciest Places to Work?” Where are they and why, and how much do they cost?
The most expensive office locations are typically:
- In premier districts of global commerce and financial centers
- Well-connected internationally
- Home to high-value talent and high-net-worth tenants
- The site of large numbers of global corporate headquarters
- In supply-constrained areas, giving them an aura of exclusivity
- Close to clients, travel, transportation and cultural and retail amenities.
High-margin tenants are attracted to such high-cost space. The corporate tenants, law and consulting firms, venture capitalists, banks, hedge funds and other financial-services firms who call these places home clearly believe that the benefits outweigh the cost.
So here they are – in U.S. dollars per square foot per year – the world’s 12 most expensive office locations:
1. LONDON: St. James’s — $194
Topping the list is St James’s in London’s West End, home to hedge and sovereign wealth funds, and niche wealth and investment managers. The area enjoys unparalleled accessibility, luxury amenities and proximity to clients.
2. HONG KONG: Central — $162
Central is the place to be for this international financial center’s banking and finance community. The area offers first-class hotels, luxury retail (shopping has been called a ‘serious sport’ in Hong Kong) and excellent transport links and interconnecting walkways, which can be particularly welcoming on hot and humid summer days.
3. BEIJING: Finance Street — $137
This Beijing submarket was planned and built specifically to attract the highest-tier financial institutions. Major state-owned enterprises and global investment banks and insurance companies have accepted the invitation.
4. GENEVA: Rue du Rhône — $116
Rue du Rhône is Geneva’s prime location for banks and private wealth-management firms. Luxury retail outlets help to keep some of the wealth in circulation.
5. SILICON VALLEY: Menlo Park — $111
Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park is home to many of the venture capitalists who have made Silicon Valley the epicenter of the technology universe.
6. MOSCOW: Kremlin Area — $107
Office space in Moscow’s Kremlin area is a magnet for Russian and international finance and legal tenants. New construction is tightly restricted, and that has helped further boost the value of the area’s office space.
7. MIDTOWN MANHATTAN: Fifth Avenue — $104
Long recognized as one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets, Fifth Avenue is also home to numerous hedge funds attracted to top-quality space in Midtown Manhattan.
8. SINGAPORE: Raffles Place/Marina Bay — $103
The heart of Singapore’s financial district is served by a world-class subway system and offers tenants a vibrant environment for work, living and play.
9. PARIS: Golden Triangle, Champs Elysées — $99
The Champs Elysées, the heart of tourism and retail in Paris, is also an office hub. Businesses including international law firms, banks and corporate tenants prize the area for its accessibility, high-quality buildings and proximity to clients.
10. TOKYO: Marunouchi — $98
Marunouchi, located on the west side of Tokyo Station, is a long-established office precinct. The lower floors of buildings typically house luxury retail outlets, with the higher floors reserved for premium office space.
11. ZURICH: Uraniastrasse and Paradeplatz — $91
Uraniastrasse and the area around the Paradeplatz in Zurich’s central business district feature excellent accessibility and amenities. Not surprisingly, the area’s office space is dominated by the banking sector and private wealth management firms.
12. SHANGHAI: Lujiazui — $87
Lujiazui was transformed from empty grassland to a bustling financial district in 20 years. Today it is Shanghai’s largest CBD, home to 650 Chinese and international financial institutions.
Many of these locations are likely to remain in the “Top 12” for years. The order may shift, however, as industries look to emerging markets for growth, and as markets continue to recover. Tokyo will likely regain some of the ground it lost in recent years, for example. And as venture capitalists and technology companies continue to gain momentum, additional tech hubs may break into the list.