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Crazy Rich Moves: Asia’s Millionaire Migration Flows Unpacked

Curtis S. Chin

Curtis S. Chin

Curtis S. Chin is a former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank; Chair, Senior Fellows, and Senior Advisor, Global Markets of the Milken Institute; and managing director of advisory firm RiverPeak Group, LLC.


Compared to other regions, the forecast net millionaire inflows and outflows in the Asia Pacific countries on the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report’s Top 10 lists are striking — 3 of 10 places on the millionaire inflow list and 5 of 10 on the outflow list. A look at the destinations to watch — seven countries that just missed out on the Top 10 inflows list but are worth observing due to their strong potential to attract millionaires in future — adds an additional Asia Pacific nation: New Zealand, which is arguably the world’s safest. 

Asia Pacific saw significant movement of high-net-worth individuals — those with investable wealth of USD 1 million or more — both inbound and outbound in 2023 and more of the same is projected for 2024.1

The region’s remarkable diversity, ranging from the tiny Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore to East Asian and South Asian economic giants China and India is also reflected in diverging millionaire migration numbers. This is no doubt driven in part by perceptions of the relative long-term resilience, safety, stability, and livability of destinations within and outside Asia Pacific.  

Resilience, recovery, and relocation

With the world economy continuing a steady but slow recovery according to the IMF and Asian Development Bank forecasts, and Covid-19 pandemic-era travel restrictions now fully lifted, millionaires are clearly on the move again. This is fully captured in the global wealth migration data in the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2024, which reflects the total number of dollar millionaires who have moved to a new country year on year since 2013 — namely, those who have physically relocated and remained in a new country for longer than six months. 

Side profile of a young Asian businesswoman standing among contemporary skyscrapers

There had been a steady growth trajectory in such movement until 2020, when the pandemic hampered the migration and tracking of millionaires on the move. Numbers then dramatically dropped from 110,000 migrating millionaires in 2019 to only 12,000 in 2020. Recovery began in 2022, continued in 2023, and provisional numbers show continued growth in 2024 with a record-breaking forecast for 2025.

The 2024 forecast Top 10 lists for net millionaire inflows and outflows in Asia Pacific countries bears this out. 

Millionaires on the move — into Asia, with Singapore helping show the way

The Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2024 makes clear that when it comes to high-net-worth individual movement, Asia Pacific is not to be counted out, with 3 of the Top 10 countries with forecast net millionaire inflows in 2024 being from the region.  

While the UAE and the USA take the top two places, Singapore — the international finance and trading hub — ranks No. 3 with a projected net gain of 3,500 high-net-worth individuals in 2024. Impressively for Singapore (total population of 5.9 million) that is just 300 millionaires fewer than the net gain by the No. 2-ranked USA (total population of 335 million).

Widely regarded as the most business-friendly city on earth, Singapore consistently ranks among the top destinations for migrating millionaires. In April 2024, the Economist Intelligence Unit named the city-state — also known as The Lion City — as the world’s best place to conduct business. Singapore is also the world’s fastest growing family office hub, aided by a tax-friendly regime (including zero capital gains tax), a comparatively safe, stable and secure environment, and clear, transparent rules. 

Australia and Japan draw millionaires to their shores

At No. 5 on the ranking of Top 10 countries with net millionaire inflows in 2024 is Australia, with a projected net arrival of 2,500, which is notably well below the peak levels recorded in the 2010s, when the country consistently attracted more than 5,000 millionaires per annum. 

Japan completes the Top 10 list, coming in for the first time at No. 10, with a projected net inflow of 400 high-net-worth individuals in 2024. Despite a challenging past decade and a weak yen, Japan’s overall economy is showing signs of recovery, with the Nikkei Stock Average up by 28% in 2023 — the highest year-end finish since 1989.  

Headwinds for ‘population billionaire’ China reflected in departing millionaires

When it comes to the Top 10 countries with the highest forecast net millionaire outflows for 2024, two giant Asian nations stand out — the ‘population billionaires’ of China and India rank 1st and 3rd, respectively. (The UK ranked 2nd with a new record net outflow of 9,500 millionaires projected.)

China continues to see the highest net outflow of millionaires with a projected 15,200 leaving the mainland in 2024 — a new record for the country (and likely to be an undercount), but it is important to recognize that this is a very small percentage of that nation’s overall millionaire population. For reference, China — with a population of more than 1.4 billion — is 2nd on the world’s Top 15 wealthiest countries ‘W15’ list with 862,400 millionaires, including 2,352 centi-millionaires and 305 billionaires, while 1st-placed USA — with a population of 332 million — has 5.49 million high-net-worth individuals, 9,850 of whom are centi-millionaires and 788 billionaires. 

Still, the net outflow numbers also reflect China’s economic headwinds. General wealth growth has been slowing in recent years, with some of the world’s most restrictive Covid-19 lockdowns, a housing and real estate crisis, and the unintended consequences of policies that have sought to reassert state control over parts of the economy as contributing factors. 

China’s economy had grown steadily for decades, capturing the imagination of many, but wealth and millionaire growth in the country has since lagged given a focus on “common prosperity”. Popular destinations for migrating millionaires traditionally include Singapore, the USA, and Canada, with Japan a new destination to watch.

India’s growing population mitigates millionaire loss

While India has now overtaken China as the world’s most populous nation, its net millionaire exodus is less than 30% percent of China’s. 

India’s net loss of high-net-worth individuals also may well be of less concern given the nation’s still growing population. According to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2024, India will see the third highest net outflow of millionaires this year, a projected 4,300. As with China, this is a small percentage of the overall millionaire population. India ranks 10th in the W15 with 326,400 high-net-worth individuals, including 1,044 centi-millionaires and 120 billionaires (the third highest billionaire population in the world).

In many developing nations, a relatively lower standard of living combined with safety and security concerns have driven high-net-worth individuals to places where they can enjoy a better lifestyle, have access to more premium health and education services, and enjoy safer and cleaner environments. 

By some measures, India now has some of the world’s worst air pollution. According to one Financial Times report, the situation in India is worse than it ever was in China, and the government is struggling to introduce measures to combat the problem.

While India loses thousands of millionaires each year, with many migrating to the UAE, concerns over the outflows may well be mitigated as with wealth growth of 85% over the past decade, the country continues to produce far more new high-net-worth individuals than it loses to emigration. 

South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam join Top 10 millionaire outflow list

In a sign of the uncertain, if not troubled, times in which the world finds itself in 2024, for the first time South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam make the Top 10 list of places with the highest projected net millionaire outflows. 

At No. 4, South Korea is set to see a record net outward migration of 1,200 high-net-worth individuals in 2024. While the nation’s manufacturers and high-tech industries have for decades helped mint new millionaires, and while a Korean creative economy and the explosion on the global stage of its music, film, and drama are creating new wealth, the reality of a nuclear-armed North Korea next door has contributed to the draw of migration for even the wealthiest of citizens. 

The number of millionaires leaving South Korea has accelerated over the past few years. Popular destinations include the USA — home to the largest number of emigrants from South Korea — Australia and Canada.

At No. 8, Taiwan is projected to see a net loss of 400 high-net-worth individuals in 2024. Despite a vibrant, democratic, and progressive environment and a world-class food scene, worsening tensions between mainland China and Taiwan may well have contributed to the recent uptick in millionaire flows out of Taiwan. 

Yet, Taiwan’s dominance in the most sophisticated parts of the global semiconductor market has contributed to a highly resilient economy, with more than 60,000 resident high-net-worth individuals. By some measures, the chips that power everything from mobile phones to electric cars constitute 15% of Taiwan’s GDP. 

The fifth Asian entry in the Top 10 list for projected net outward millionaire migration in 2024 is Vietnam, which enters at No. 9 with a net loss of 300 high-net-worth individuals in 2024. Vietnam’s appearance on the list is somewhat of a contradiction, however, as the nation is currently the fastest growing wealth hub in the world, with millionaire growth of 98% recorded over the past decade. 

As with India’s rise, more wealth and millionaires are being created by the “rise of Vietnam” even as some relocate abroad for a better quality of life. Wealth creation is also likely to continue to benefit from Vietnam’s having become a vital link in supply chains as business increasingly pivots from China. 

Growth in much of Asia last year and this has been resilient, despite uncertain external prospects, according to the Asian Development Bank. Still, based on IMF projections, the forecast for global growth five years from now — at 3.1% — is at its lowest in decades. Transparency International’s 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) further notes that corruption is thriving across the world. Asia Pacific is not immune. 

The Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2024 provides key insights into millionaires on the move. With the remainder of the year marked by numerous elections worldwide, including a US presidential election that is likely to have a significant impact globally, and continued economic uncertainty due to conflicts, geopolitics, and polarization, high-net-worth individuals may well continue to explore a future move, going with the flows — inbound or outbound. Stay tuned.  


1 Figures for the full year 2024 are provisional and based on year-to-date HNWI movements to June 2024. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Source: New World Wealth

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