High-end neighborhoods are becoming emptier, lonelier places as the world's super-rich buy up luxury residences across the globe.
Recently, I pointed to the effects of international absentee apartment ownership on New York neighborhoods. Now -- coincidentally on the eve of the planned May Day Occupy Wall Street demonstrations scheduled for New York and other major cities -- the Financial Times shows that this kind of occupation has become an issue overseas, too. Even indigenous elite families from the Upper East Side to Hong Kong aren't all happy about the trend. Global migrants, even in town, tend to isolate themselves from locals in secure bubbles of their fellow nationals, reducing the vitality of neighborhoods.
The piece reminds me of why I love the FT. No other general or business publication lavishes so much attention on the delights of exotic properties like the Saxon villages of Romanian Transylvania, with their beautiful and endangered way of life. It presents even the administrative and legal complications of international purchase more as challenges to its base of seasoned deal-makers than as turn-offs.
All the more credit to the FT for quoting liberal critics of the trend like the sociologist Saskia Sassen; the people who actually sell the real estate seem to agree with her about the downside of the trend even while profiting from it -- much like the newspaper itself in its property advertising. If some developers and brokers are unhappy about this kind of piece, it doesn't seem to have affected their space purchases. It's probably because their customers, the global 1 percent of the 1 percent, have long ceased to care what anybody writes about them.