In search of safety, peace, and quality of life.

By Danica Lo
Updated May 24, 2017
© George Clerk / Getty Images

Close your eyes and imagine you're a very, very rich person—not just, like, normal rich, but mega rich. Now think of all the terrible things that are happening in the world: the politically uncertain future, the terrorism, crime, wars, demagogues, military coups, dictatorships. Scary, huh? Now, don't forget, you're a super-rich human and you have the power to remove yourself from these scary environments—by flying or boating to wherever your heart desires, possibly even buying property and setting up house. Where do you go? More and more frequently, the answer is New Zealand.

According to a report in Bloomberg, "New Zealand ranks high on international surveys of desirable places to live, placing among the top 10 for democracy, lack of corruption, peace, and satisfaction." And over the past few years, billionaires have taken notice. A law enacted six years ago states that an investment of NZ$10 million over three years, combined with 44 days spent in the country each year, can help qualify a foreigner for resident status—and over the past six years, 121 people have ponied up the cash and taken advantage of this opportunity. An additional 800 people have invested NZ$1.5 million each over a four year period to acquire a "residency pass," which allows you to "live, work, and study in New Zealand"—and you can bring your family along too.

"If the world is going to hell in a hand basket, they're in the best place they could possibly be," David Cooper, Director of Client Services at Malcolm Pacific Immigration in Auckland, told Bloomberg. "People want to get the hell out of where they are and they feel that New Zealand is safe."

Still, despite its high quality of life, New Zealand isn't winning all the rich people. A report published last year by Wealth-X in collaboration with Sotheby's International Realty found that the top ten cities for ultra-high net worth individuals (worth more than $30 million) are, in descending order: New York, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Singapore, Dallas, Mumbai, and Paris. And the top ten second residence countries for ultra-high net worth individuals outside their country of primary business are, in descending order: United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Monaco, Australia, and India.