Canada overtook the U.K. for the first time to become the second top emigration destination for China’s rich, according to a well-known poll of the country’s high net worth individuals.
The U.S. remains No.1 choice, but “overall, U.S. cities have seen a fall in favour since the Trump presidency,” according to the annual survey, which was carried out by Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based research group, in association with Visas Consulting Group, a legal service for emigres.
Canada, on the other hand, is only getting more popular. The U.K. now ranks third, with Australia coming in fourth.
The survey, conducted between April and July of this year, focused on Chinese nationals with wealth between US$1.5 million to $30 million (C$1.9 million and $38 million). Participants were asked about plans to emigrate as investors, rather than under other visa categories, such as skilled immigrants.
The report suggests China’s elite will likely continue to pump money into Canadian real estate.
Vancouver ranks fifth among the top destinations for those hoping to buy property, while Toronto climbed two notches to eighth spot this year.
Both B.C. and Ontario have adopted a 15 per cent tax for foreign homebuyers to try to dissuade well-heeled emigres from parking their cash in the Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets, where affordability is at record lows.
In Vancouver, where the tax came into effect in August of 2016, the measure seems to have temporarily scared off foreign investors. The share of real estate transactions involving foreign citizens dropped from 15 per cent in June of 2016 to virtually zero immediately after the levy came into effect.
Foreign buyers, though, appear to be slowly coming back to Metro Vancouver. The city’s share of foreign real estate purchases had already climbed back to 4 per cent by November of last year.
In Toronto, which adopted a similar measure in April, foreign homebuyers accounted for around 7 per cent of transactions over a one-month period between late April and late May, according to government data. Analysts say it’s too soon to assess the impact of the levy there.
WATCH: Home sales in GTA drop in May after foreign buyer’s tax introduced
Working against the deterrent of higher property taxes, is the prospect of top schools and clean air, the Hurun report suggests.
About half of China’s millionaires are flirting with the idea of emigrating, the research shows, and most would do so for the sake of accessing better education and escaping the country’s smog-clogged cities.
“Education and pollution are driving China’s rich to emigrate. If China can solve these issues, then the primary incentive to emigrate will have been taken away,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.