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What could $1m buy you? A part-time share in a private jet? The wheels of a vintage Rolls-Royce? Peace of mind? $1m could buy you a Stradivarius violin, but may leave you wishing you’d invested in stocks instead of sonatas. For those with more conventional instincts, how much house will $1m buy you around the world?
New research conducted by Knight Frank reckons that $1m in Monaco buys you 17 sq metres — roughly the size of a catamaran’s mainsail. You might feel better off spending $1m on a yacht and dropping anchor in the harbour where you can lounge on deck or swing from your anti-rattle chandeliers in style.
Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank, says: “Monaco has seen an increase in demand as taxation has become more challenging in other jurisdictions.” He points to the changes to the non-dom regime in the UK which, he says, “have certainly increased demand from some people for Monaco as a location, rather than the UK.”
Comparatively, the value of London’s prime residential property market rose by a mere 1 per cent during 2015. Today, $1m would buy 22 sq metres in prime central London. The equivalent? The lower deck of a red London bus. In New York $1m supposedly fetches 27 sq metres — a slightly smaller area than the average Manhattan parking space.
Why settle for a cubbyhole in Chelsea when $1m in Cape Town can buy you a seat at the top of the Constantia Valley with views over wine country and 14 rooms in which to slide around in your socks? You could sip fine wine while contemplating the city’s 6.9 per cent rise in house prices last year.
Or, if South Africa feels too remote, you could try Germany. Assume the life of a rakish Berliner, safe in the knowledge that less than $1m has bought you a three-bedroom penthouse on an elegant boulevard in Charlottenburg, as well as 137 sq metres in Europe’s biggest economy, the benefit of blossoming property values and the excuse to live like a libertine. The property is available through Engel & Völkers for $959,366.
Or where better to spend your time than Corfu, an island occupied by the Venetians for 400 years, its history reflected in the Italianate architecture of a 10-bedroom villa available for under $1m. Built in 1880 it has been owned by the same family for 135 years, but now, perhaps, by yours? After the Venetians, came the French, the British and, during the second world war, the Germans, who adopted the house as their Corfu headquarters. The wrought-iron entrance gate is pockmarked with bullet holes from fighting around the property. You’re a lover, not a fighter? Then wile away the hours in the garden on grass imported from Aristotle Onassis’s island, Skorpios, by his gardener — a friend of the family, apparently. Marketed by Aylesford International and yours for $932,786.
While agents say that the quantity of prime property sales on Corfu has dipped since Greece’s economy entered “intensive care” in 2009, prices today look steady, underpinned by the substantial rents generated by high-end property on the island.
Yet perhaps your gambling habit has necessitated the case for a postage stamp-sized apartment near Monte Carlo Casino? In which case Athena Advisors is selling a two-bedroom apartment, not in Monaco — you simply can’t afford it — but in Beausoleil for $981,000. The affordable price reflects the relative benefit of buying in neighbouring France, although the basic rate of French capital gains tax at 19 per cent cannot compare to the zero per cent enjoyed by the Monégasque — quel dommage! Nevertheless, Beausoleil is just a 10-minute walk from Monaco’s beaches and this pied-à-terre with views of the coast has a terrace almost as large as the apartment itself. You’ll have to share the heated outdoor pool if you can bear it. And, of course, it affords a quick getaway over the border if the croupier makes you for counting cards.
If the waters of the azure coast hold no delights for you, look 1,000km north-west to Fontenay-le-Comte. On the Atlantic coast of France, this Renaissance town is a bougainvillea-covered picture of Gallic life. In Fontenay one ambles. One lolls. One meanders like the river that winds its way through the town. One imagines that any pace above a gentle mosey would be greeted with a raised eyebrow. If this appeals to you, then Fontenay is your jam. Mayfair International is selling a six-bedroom stone mansion in the town for just under $1m, complete with a library to stock, a pool to float in aimlessly and 6,000 sq metres of wooded park to explore.
Perhaps you need more space? How about 28,000 sq metres of orchards and olive groves? Or perhaps you long for a view. Will the Atlas Mountains do? Thirty minutes outside of Marrakesh there is a four-bedroom, red-clay villa off of the Route d’Ourika with your name on its poolside loungers. Aylesford International is selling it for $965,230. Your new neighbours in the Atlas Mountains are the Berbers, whose language has outlived most of the languages of antiquity, including classical Greek, Latin and Phoenician. St Augustine was a Berber — probably. You’ll love this anecdote. You’ll tell it to your guests in all three of your reception rooms and then, again, on the wraparound terrace as you conjure the sunset over the snow-capped peaks of Toubkal.
If too much quietude makes you queasy, however, head for Hong Kong. Its saturated population density evokes images of boxy apartments in high-rise developments; expats stacked on top of expats. At 44 storeys high, the development in Tai Kok Tsui does little to challenge this cliché, but it does have a two-bedroom apartment on sale with Savills for $949,764.
But what of the pets? In many Hong Kong developments pets are bestiae non gratae. Yet in Discovery Bay, on Lantau Island, they roam free — well, sort of. For $939,432, Savills is offering a four-bedroom roost for you and your menagerie with views over the South China Sea. All you have to do is get there. Since Discovery Bay is car-free, this requires creativity. It is a 30-minute ferry ride from central Hong Kong Island or 90 minutes by bus and metro. Pets may prefer to fly.
If business takes you to Tokyo, there is a two-bedroom apartment perched on the 42nd floor of a relatively new development in Harumi, the area designated as the Olympic Village for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sotheby’s is selling it for $973,313. From your bed you could gaze at Mount Fuji during the day and the illuminated Rainbow Bridge at night. If you don’t care for bridges or sport, Knight Frank has a collection of four-bedroom villas for sale in Phuket, Thailand. Prices start at $1.07m for a life of lying on a lilo in tropical luxury.
Among Tokyo’s parks and museums, there is a one-bedroom apartment in a 38-storey, earthquake-resistant tower in Minato-Ku, which Sotheby’s is selling for $1.05m. And in Barbados, a 10-minute stroll from Gibbes, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island’s Gold Coast, Knight Frank is offering a three-bedroom villa with pool and veranda for $995,000.
Can’t decide whether you’re a countryphile or an urbanite? Why should you have to? Cape Town has an English country-style home perfect for you, which is fortunate because you’ve decided that South Africa is close enough to warrant forking out $1.1m for a five-bedroom family homestead that Knight Frank is offering with a separate cottage and heated lap pool. There are also five reception rooms, one each for everyone, in case you find that you’ve moved halfway around the world only to realise you can’t bear each other.
And how about the UK? Strutt & Parker is offering a standout property in the capital for $965,642. It may be only one bedroom but it offers a chance — perhaps one of the only — to own a freehold house on the fringe of prime central London. The property on Burnthwaite Road, in Fulham, is located within a sporting triangle: Queen’s tennis club to the north, Stamford Bridge — home to Chelsea FC — to the east and rivals Fulham FC to the west. Anecdotal knowledge about how both teams are playing will get you through awkward conversations with fellow labrador owners on Eel Brook Common and Parsons Green. The English have mastered the art of talking seriously about nothing; if you’re going to move there, it helps to know the score.