6 Cities to Watch in 2019

This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s lifestyle blog, Luxury Defined.


These six locales, our selection of cities to watch in 2019, offer a broad range of enticements for every kind of property buyer. From Paris, which is emerging as a new European tech hub, to Atlanta, where several major company headquarters are relocating, these promising locations—and their desirable properties—are well worth a look.


  1. Tokyo, Japan


Tokyo’s neighbourhoods are growing in size, in part thanks to a surge in property development ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Image: Shutterstock


“In anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, this city is seeing vibrant transformation and growth,” says Sonny Saito, CEO of Japan Capital Realty Inc., the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Japan. As is often the case with a major sporting event, the city has been regenerating to meet the renewed real estate demand.


“There are more developers building high-end properties for the growing number of domestic billionaires in Tokyo, as well as international high-net-worth buyers attracted by the Comprehensive Special Zone program’s tax incentives,” says Saito. As The Wall Street Journal recently noted, there is increased demand from foreign buyers who want upscale amenities and a safe place to invest. Consequently, the recent strength and stability of the Japanese yen is an important factor. While the city offers everything luxury high-rise living, you’re just 90 minutes away from the hot spring district of Yugawara, where classic traditional Japanese Ryokans still exist along the Chitose River.


“The second-hand residential market is also showing an increase in real estate values due to significant demand in anticipation of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and casino resort developments. Plus, land scarcity is also pushing up prices,” adds Saito.


Now is a good time to buy in Japan


Tokyo’s most luxurious neighbourhoods are located in an area known as the three As: Azabu, Aoyama and Akasaka in the Minato ward. Azabu is an exclusive enclave preferred by diplomats and executives and is home to a massive residential redevelopment in its sub-district Azabudai. Aoyama is more cosmopolitan, while Akasaka is an established upscale business district close to entertainment venues.


“The next hot luxury neighbourhood is in the recently opened Shibuya Stream complex—a 35 story-development that features a hotel, and offices of ad agencies and tech startups, with high-end restaurants and a thriving arts scene. Now is a good time to buy,” says Saito.


  1. Hong Kong

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Global Liveability Index ranks Hong Kong among the top 10 cities in the Asia-Pacific region. Image: Getty


Safe and prosperous, Hong Kong has a vibrant blend of British colonial history and Chinese culture. This cosmopolitan financial hub ranked as the most luxurious housing market worldwide in the Luxury Defined 2018 Global Luxury Real Estate Report for the second year running. Property values are notoriously high but remain rock solid in the city-state’s thriving, tax-friendly economy, while the World Bank lists it in fourth place globally for ease of doing business. Meanwhile, wages are the highest in Asia-Pacific, according to HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey.


“While we have one of the most expensive property markets in the world, 2019 is very interesting for buyers because of the current price correction cycle,” says Yuky Chung, senior director of Landscope Christie’s International Real Estate, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Hong Kong. “This adjustment phase is a great situation for investors, while there is no danger of an all-out crash because of increasing buyer demand from mainland China.”


Exclusive residential districts like The Peak and Repulse Bay have spectacular water views, as do luxury condos in Deep Water Bay and elegant high-rises in Pokfulam.


Victoria Harbour is a truly remarkable waterway, separating the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island from the busy streets of Kowloon,” says Chung, adding: “The exciting opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which connects Beijing and Hong Kong via Guangzhou and Shenzhen, in September 2018 and the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in October 2018 provides greater convenience for commuters.”


The bridge, which is the longest sea crossing in the world, has been named as China’s greatest technological advancement of 2018 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.


  1. Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

A mix of historic adobe homes and Territorial-style homes are sprinkled throughout Santa Fe, New Mexico. Image: Kyle Klain


Four seasons of mild weather, mountain views, starry nights—all good reasons to buy a vacation home in Santa Fe. Fitness enthusiasts are attracted to the city’s excellent air quality: the American Lung Association gives it an “A” for safe ozone levels, which explains the local enthusiasm for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.


But this outdoor-oriented city holds its own as a cultural hotspot, too: Santa Fe was rated as having the most vibrant arts community among medium-sized American cities in the National Center for Arts Research’s 2018 Index. The appointment of Canadian Opera Company’s Alexander Neef as artistic director of Santa Fe Opera is a further indication of the city’s growing arts and cultural influence.


Santa Fe also ranked as the world’s hottest second-home market for prestige property in the Luxury Defined 2018 report, recording levels of luxury home sales not seen since before the recession in 2008.


Santa Fe Summit and Sierra del Norte offer spectacular views, as do Casas de San Juan and Monte Sereno,” says David Barker, CEO and owner of Barker Realty, Inc., the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region. “What’s notable for 2019 is the excellent value you get for your money here, along with the thriving arts scene that emerges in a tri-cultural city.”


  1. Paris, France

The 2024 Olympics will bring infrastructure improvements to Paris, making it an even more enticing prospect for property buyers.


The City of Light isn’t just for romantic getaways. Paris has top-notch universities, transportation, gastronomy, and fashion—all part of the booming French economy. Additionally, in-progress infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2024 Olympics make it even more attractive for those seeking to make Paris their home. With France emerging as the tech start-up capital of Europe, Paris is the new Silicon Valley of 2019, attracting upwardly-mobile talent and foreign investment.


“We’re right in the center of Europe, with easy access to London,” says Marie-Hélène Lundgreen, director of Daniel Féau Conseil Immobilier, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region. “The luxury market is performing very well due to factors such as Brexit, the surge of French expats returning home, and international buyers who want turnkey properties with a concierge service.”


Paris was ranked as the fifth hottest primary property market worldwide in the Luxury Defined 2018 report, and each of the city’s neighbourhoods has its own distinct charm. Le Marais is a trendy hub of art galleries, bistros, and boutiques, while Saint-Germain is known for its cafes, bookshops, and antiques. The Golden Triangle, bordering the Champs-Elysées, is prized for its fashion houses—Dior, Gucci, Chanel, and Saint Laurent, among others—as well as its grand hotels and gourmet restaurants.


“The summer of 2019 is highly anticipated because of the grand opening of a new contemporary art gallery,” adds Lundgreen. “A former stock exchange in the city center has been transformed to hold the famous Pinault art collection, ensuring Paris remains an important cultural hotspot for contemporary art.”


  1. São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil’s renowned epicurean stars include Alex Atala, owner of D.O.M, and Helena Rizzo, owner of Maní. The city claims to serve the best pizza outside Naples and the best sushi outside Japan. Image: Shutterstock


The beating heart of Brazil and the largest city in the southern hemisphere, São Paulo has an effervescent nightlife and a food scene driven by celebrity chefs and destination restaurants. It’s also the country’s finance and transport hub, with noteworthy architectural monuments and a stunning skyline.


As Brazil climbs out of a lengthy recession, an encouraging report by fDi Intelligence names São Paulo as Latin America’s State of the Future for 2018-2019, ranking the city first for both economic potential and business friendliness. The New York Times notes that lower prices, more political stability, and an improving economy are bringing real estate buyers back to the market.


Despite the recession of the past three years, the luxury market in São Paulo continues to perform well


“Despite the recession of the past three years, the luxury market continues to perform well,” says Luiza Cazarin of Axpe Imóveis Especiais, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region. For hip urban living, she recommends São Paulo’s colourful Vila Madalena district, with its music venues, art galleries, and cinemas. For something quieter, there’s the leafy upscale district of Jardim Europa. The city has many exclusive enclaves, such as Vila Nova Conceição near Ibirapuera Park; and chic Itaim-Bibi, home to many trendy restaurants and expatriates.



  1. Atlanta, Georgia, United States


Atlanta is so much more than its climate. Witness the great real estate value, craft beer culture, sports venues, botanical gardens, and family-friendly attractions. Image: Getty


As the unofficial capital of the New South, Atlanta has much to offer, from Civil War history and professional sports teams to the world-class Georgia Aquarium. Excitement mounts over the radical transformation of Atlanta Station’s park and public space, set to open in 2019. Locals are also looking forward to six days of free Super Bowl LIVE events leading up to game day. It also boasts a thriving film industry—with Georgia even beating out California in the number of film shoots over the past few years, including the making of Baby DriverGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Captain America: Civil War, among others—and a large population of young professionals who like the city’s job prospects and value in real estate.


Mercedes-Benz USA recently relocated its headquarters to Atlanta, joining 15 other Fortune 500 companies with flagships in Georgia’s capital city, including Coca-Cola, UPS, and The Home Depot, which is hiring 1,200 people this spring. Meanwhile, Forbes has named Atlanta as one of five cities in the United States poised to become tomorrow’s tech meccas.


“Financially, 2019 is a prime time to make a move,” says Jenni Bonura at Harry Norman, Realtors, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the city. “Inventories are rising modestly in Atlanta yet demand is still strong and rates are still low. In addition, there is momentum for new businesses—Thyssenkrupp Elevator and Norfolk Southern are both opening new headquarters here in the near future—as well as new jobs and attractive lifestyle amenities throughout Atlanta. It makes sense to buy here when considering all factors.”


As Forbes recently noted, real estate in Atlanta is stable and appreciating at a pace less prone to market correction. And the city’s luxury properties aren’t always about size: “Today’s mid-tier luxury buyers prioritize privacy and security, preferring tech-enabled homes that require minimal upkeep. A mansion with a smaller footprint—especially one that appropriately showcases unique and rare art pieces or other collections—is highly attractive,” says Bonura.


Forbes has named Atlanta as one of five cities in the United States poised to become tomorrow’s tech meccas.


The family-oriented neighbourhoods of Brookhaven and Buckhead have an eclectic mix of upscale Colonial, Federal, and Neoclassical-style homes, as well as Tudor and Georgian mansions close to downtown. The same can be said about Ansley Park and Sherwood Forest, with their sprawling lawns, abundant parks, botanical gardens, museums, and coffee shops—all highly walkable.


Written by, Joanne Latimer, an award-winning Montréal-based journalist who has written for The New York Times and The Globe and Mail