The World’s Most Exclusive Cities

Mar 25, 2024

We live in an era where, for many people, luxury is a distinct factor when it comes to deciding where we travel and where we live. This is the case for many of our customers, for whom chartering a luxury yacht provides them with an extraordinary way to see the world and experience new cultures.

And of course, luxury often goes hand in hand with the concept of exclusivity – the high costs associated with living luxuriously means that access to it tends to be limited to a select few.

With this in mind, we’ve carried out a new study where we used publicly available data to find out where the world’s most affluent people are most likely to either live in or visit. To accomplish this, we gathered a variety of data points taken from authoritative sources, including average property prices, living costs, average salaries, the number of millionaires, centi-millionaires and billionaires, and the density of 5-star hotels and Michelin guide restaurants.

Which locations do you think will turn out to be the most exclusive? Read on to find out what we discovered…


Overall, Zürich has emerged as the world’s most exclusive city. Known in part for its illustrious financial district, Switzerland’s largest city not only has the highest cost of living and property prices per square meter in the world but also boasts the highest average salaries for its residents. Meanwhile, the presence of 76 Michelin-star restaurants and over 433 five-star hotels are a further indication of the city’s exclusivity.

Next, the world’s second most exclusive city is San Francisco, with a high final score of 9.98 out of 10 – which also gives it the accolade of being the most exclusive location in the United States. The Bay Area is home to 285,000 millionaires, centi-millionaires and billionaires, attributing its affluence to the booming tech industry and its vibrant cultural scene (which in turn is a likely contributor to the city’s particularly high average net salary of $7,387 per month). And of course, its allure is magnified by its scenic vistas and its 174 Michelin guide restaurants.

Geneva, Switzerland, secures the third spot with a score of 9.29. As another pivotal financial hub, Geneva undeniably offers a refined lifestyle with the world’s third-highest property prices as well as an extensive array of five-star hotels and Michelin guide restaurants. Its picturesque landscape, complemented by Lake Geneva, provides a serene backdrop for the city’s residents and visitors.

New York City and Paris fill out the final two top five spots, with both cities offering their own unique flavor of exclusivity. New York City, despite having one of the lowest densities of five-star hotels, counteracts this by having the highest number of high-net-worth-individuals, in addition to having a high cost of living and average net salary. Meanwhile Paris, the epitome of romance and gourmet cuisine, unsurprisingly scores very highly for its density of Michelin guide restaurants. It also has a relatively high cost of living.

The rest of the top 25 is comprised of a variety of well-known locations, with a few different US cities making appearances (including LA, Seattle, Miami and more). Other countries with multiple cities in the ranking include Italy (with Florence and Milan) and Canada (with Toronto and Vancouver).

As a final thought, it is of course notable that many of these cities are located near the coast or near bodies of water like lakes and rivers. It almost goes without saying that the picturesque settings associated with many of these locations will be perfect for any residents or visitors interested in a luxury yachting experience.

If you’re looking to charter a yacht in a stunning part of the world, similar to many of the locations found in this study, do get in touch – or take a look at our available luxury yachts for hire.


Various data sources were used in this study, including:

Once we had the data for each factor, we standardized their individual results using the following min-max normalization formula:

Result = (x-min(x))/(max(x)-min(x))

This provided every location with a score between 0 and 10 for each data point. These numbers were then combined and normalized again to give us the final ranking scores out of 10.