Lonely Planet Writer

Wealthy Chinese avoiding smog by moving to Melbourne

Wealthy Chinese families are looking to leave behind smog-filled cities such as Beijing and Shanghai to relocate to Melbourne and other cities around the world which they perceive as being healthier.

A Smog scene over Shanghai.
A Smog scene over Shanghai. Image by Leo Fung / CC BY 2.0

The numbers who fear that pollution is affecting their children and want to raise them in clean air surroundings are growing by the week. New research undertaken by the World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution kills 5.5 million people per year, with China and India the worst affected countries.

South Bank, Melbourne. Image by William / CC BY 2.0.
Melbourne is one of the cities that  rich Chinese people want to relocate their families to for health reasons. Image by William / CC BY 2.0. Image by William / CC BY 2.0

In Melbourne, developers are preparing to reap the benefits of such an influx of Chinese people wanting to buy property and live there.  The Herald Sun reported a real estate agent as saying that one in three China-based investors in property were interested in relocating to Australia. Brendan Smith from Ausin real estate firm said that during his work, he has encountered middle-class and affluent people from China who are deeply worried about the impact of pollution on their children and grandchildren.

Beijing smogis a major worry for residents
Beijing smog is a major worry for residents Image by Ilya Haykinson / CC BY-SA 2.0

He informed an Urban Development Institute of Australia seminar that Melbourne was among the world’s greenest cities where the air is most breathable and very appealing as a result to Chinese buyers. He told planners and developers that there is a clear message – continue to build on the lifestyle and liveability of Melbourne “and the money will flow in.”

A new report shows that the city’s apartment market continues to thrive, with close on 25,000 available last year – the highest in Australia. However Robert Papaleo, from UDIA research partner Charter Keck Cramer, warned that the apartment outlook is clouded for this year. He stressed though that Melbourne possesses fundamental strengths and has managed to overcome a number of property crises in the last ten years. Mr Papaleo described Melbourne as an international city which is also “a highly liveable city.”