SA in droves
Wealthy South Africans have left the country in large numbers over the past 14 years, mainly because of unstable political conditions.
Between 2000 and 2014 more than 8 000 individuals with a high-net-asset worth, those with net assets of more than $1 million (R12.44 million) – their primary residences excluded – have packed their bags to find greener, and more expensive, pastures abroad.
This left South Africa with a total of 46 800 dollar millionaires at the end of 2014.
Popular emigration destinations for the wealthy include Australia, Britain, Cyprus, Mauritius, the US and Canada, according to a new annual overview of the migration patterns of the rich by New World Wealth, compiled in cooperation with LIO Global.
Over the same period, only 500 wealthy people immigrated to South Africa, mainly from other countries in Africa, according to Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth. He said the main reasons for the exodus were political instability – mainly concern about the country becoming a second Zimbabwe – crime, the standard of education and a general lack of business opportunities.
He said about 40% emigrated to Britain, largely to London and southeast England, and 20% to Australia, mainly Sydney and Melbourne.
Since the turn of the century, the number of millionaires worldwide who have emigrated has increased dramatically. Nadia Read, head of LIO Global, said the main reasons for the rich applying for citizenship in new countries were global mobility, safety and to protect their wealth for their families.
Britain remains the most popular emigration destination for the rich, and between 2000 and 2014, a total of 125 000 people went there.
The attractions in Britain, especially London, include the language, the international status of the capital, convenience to travel across borders, ease of transferring money, quality education and easy access to property.
However, the US remains the country with the most dollar millionaires in the world.
Altogether 52 000 wealthy people emigrated there over the past 14 years, bringing its total of dollar millionaires to 4.1 million.
The US is a favourite among emigrants from China. More than 91 000 rich Chinese have sought greener pastures there over the past 14 years.
In the second quarter of this year, a fraction more South Africans sold their homes with the intention of emigrating.
Emigration sales in this quarter rose to 3.8% of total home sales, up from 3.6% in the first quarter, according to John Loos, consumer and property strategist at FNB.
Despite the rise, it remains a fraction of the peak of 20% reached in the third quarter of 2008. Loos said it had to be noted that, at the time, the volumes in the market had been very low.