Australia, the land of beaches, babes, and beer, can now boast that it has one of the highest concentrations or ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the world, according to a study by WealthX.The sparsely-populated continent, with about 22.8 million people, is home to 2,740 ultra-affluent who are each worth at least $30 million — most of whom made their fortunes in real estate, finance and manufacturing around Sydney and Melbourne.
But one of the the more interesting trends is the sharp rise of Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, which WealthX has labelled Australia’s newest super-rich “hotspot”.
The West Australian capital, currently the fourth-richest city in Australia, is expected to rank just below Melbourne by 2014 thanks to a giant new wave of wealth being generated by the region’s booming resources industry.
That presents an attractive opportunity for private bankers, money managers and luxury brands, but also for others who want to cash in on the commodities hidden not too far from the city’s sun-soaked coastline.
When you're surrounded by money and water, boating is a given. There is one recreational vessel registered for every 25 residents.
Forget joblessness. The unemployment rate is just 4.3% — a full percentage point below the national average.
West Australians are also the best paid in the country. Miners working in remote areas surrounding Perth earn an average $160,000 per year — many fly to and from work for weeks at a time. The Wall Street Journal recently found a 25-year-old high school drop-out who earns $200,000 running drills underground.
At the other end of the scale, a job pouring beers or flipping kangaroo burgers would pay about $20 per hour (the minimum wage is $15.50). But tips aren't expected.
It is home to Australia's most expensive mansion, which belongs to mining magnate Chris Ellison. He recently bought the waterfront property from fellow miner Angela Bennett for $57.5 million.
Australia's two richest people, Gina Rinehart and Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, hail from Perth and surrounds. The mining moguls are worth a combined $26.7 billion.
The world's largest diamond mine, Argyle, owned by Rio Tinto, is also headquartered in Perth. It is a major source of rare pink diamonds, which can sell for 20 times the price of white diamonds.
Based on social stability, health care, culture and environment, Perth is said to be the world's eighth most livable city — one of four Australian metropolises to make the top 10.
The city, where Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger got their starts, has a vibrant arts scene. There are a number of concert halls, open-air venues and theatres, including the opulent His Majesty's.
As for nightlife, Perth has more than a dozen big pubs and late-night clubs (with a 6am close). But be prepared to spend — a domestic beer can cost $9, and a cocktail might set you back more than $20.
The city's giant casino, Burswood, runs 24 hours and features baccarat, blackjack, roulette, poker and 1,500 coin-operated game machines. It pulled in more than $600 million in revenue last year.
Inside, there are seven restaurants, eight bars, a nightclub, two international hotels, a convention centre and a music dome.
The adjoining five-star Burswood InterContinental makes use of all the casino's facilities, plus indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, tennis court, and day spa. Rooms start at about $500 per night.
Food doesn't come cheap in the city. A meal at popular seafood spot Mosmans will cost at least $60 per head. At the up-market Restaurant Amuse, the price climbs to about $200.
With temperatures that routinely soar into the 100s during the city's long summers, Perth has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
Locals are mad about sport, and spend summer days watching seemingly never-ending cricket matches. In the winter the focus shifts to Australian rules football and soccer (the local team, Perth Glory, is owned by resources personality Tony Sage).
It can be tough to become a Perthite. US citizens usually need to be sponsored by an employer in order to live and work in Australia, or obtain certification to fill gaps in industries suffering skills shortages (including mining and engineering). Under-30s can get a taste of life there with a cheap one-year work visa.
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