Singapore is the only city (according to rankings) that has it all: the cleanest air, green landscapes, beautiful waterways, and a high well-being score. Image: Shutterstock
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Apparently, having a carbon free environment, a couple of eco-friendly green spaces and a certain annual number of sunny days is insufficient for a city to rank as the greenest place on earth in 2020.

We examined the latest “world’s greenest city” rankings catalogued by Knight Frank, and discovered at least four emerging factors that guide the ultra-wealthy in their quest for a second home abroad.

In 2020, well-being has become the most important of these advanced features. “Happy” is the new “green,” 2020 research says. And though green spaces are included in the top characteristics of a “happy” city, there are other considerations such as work-life balance, healthcare facilities (including public healthcare), and personal security. The goal is, of course, to live a longer and happier life, surrounded by other happy people.

Further factors that can enhance happiness quotients and influence green city rankings — not to mention increase house prices by 30-100% — are waterways and parks.

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Apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (approx. US$5,386,874). View the listing

Houses on the frontline of green city areas can achieve 100% uplift in their prices (for example, Hyde Park properties). Similarly, homes facing a harbor, beach, or a river are 38-59% more expensive than the area average.

Finally, another path to ultimate wellbeing (and a greener lifestyle) includes alpine views. Alpine lifestyles provide not only a healthy environment and picturesque landscapes. In chalets such as those in Saint Moritz and Chamonix, geothermal heating has been used for the last 30 years. And Colorado valley estates have become the world’s first entirely solar-powered.

So, which cities are ranked as the “top greenest in the world” today, and what makes them so popular among affluent house hunters?

The world’s 15th greenest city: Madrid

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 1,606,000

Madrid masterfully blends medieval castles with modern architecture, trendy bars, world-renowned art museums, and beautiful parks. No wonder the city was ranked as the most promising destination for real estate investors in 2018; and, shortly after that, entered the list of the top-ranked places to live in the world.

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Penthouse in Madrid, P.O.R. View the listing

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Townhouse Madrid, El Viso (approx. US$3,644,788). View the listing

The world’s 14th greenest city: Lisbon

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 1,481,000

Within the last few years, Lisbon has transitioned from an emerging star to a major European start-up hub to a city on the list of the happiest and greenest  places to live in the world. With its mild climate and relaxed, coastal living, the city attracts digital nomads, investors, and house hunters in a quest for an oceanfront villa, a wine estate, or a renovated palace.

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Spacious penthouse with stunning views over Lisbon (approx. US$1,099,044) View the listing

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Apartment in Lisbon, Campolide, with an incredible view of the Monsanto Park and the Tagus (approx. approx. US$3,072,837). View the listing

The world’s 13th greenest city: Vancouver

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 4,326,000

Famous for outdoor recreation, the city enjoys great air quality, a sedate atmosphere, and breathtaking ocean views. It also sports nice, out-of-town ski resorts and natural parks, and amazing, contemporary property on a housing market that is relatively affordable compared with other popular North American destinations.

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Pacific Spirit Estate in Vancouver (P.O.R.). View the listing

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House in Vancouver, Park Lane (P.O.R.). View the listing

The world’s 12th greenest city: Vienna

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 5,248,000

Green and cozy, culturally rich and gastronomically exciting, Vienna is a good place to live  throughout the seasons. And the real estate market there impresses even experienced investors, offering a diverse line of dream houses, from olden-day castles to apartments with rooftop pools.

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Grand Kinsky apartment, Vienna (approx. US$6,098,689), renovated but originally built in the 19th century. View the listing

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Penthouse in Vienna (P.O.R.) View the listing

The world’s 11th greenest city: Copenhagen

With a total bike path length of 400 km, a multitude of parks and channels, harborfront positioning and almost no skyscrapers, Copenhagen has a reputation for being a livable, environmentally-friendly city. Its highly developed urban design makes Copenhagen a desirable destination for those who value an architecturally attractive environment.

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Copenhagen, one of the world’s most livable, environmentally-friendly cities. Image: Shutterstock.

The world’s 1oth greenest city: Dubai

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 2,185,000

The city is well-known for its extravagant construction projects, artificial, private islands, and the most incredible shopping and leisure experiences. Dubai is probably one of the best places on the planet to purchase a futuristic, harbor-facing penthouse in locations that can be described with the words “paradise,” “heaven,” and “beautiful.”

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Luxury penthouse at the Dorchester Collection, Dubai (approx. US$19,845,904) View the listing

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Stunning penthouse at W Residences, Dubai the Palm (approx. US$17,707,499). View the listing

The world’s 9th greenest city: Berlin

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$2,121,000

Berlin is not only a destination for techno parties and smart real estate investments but also one of the happiest European capitals. Wealth advisors believe that buying an apartment in Mitte, Grünewald, or Charlottenburg can make anyone feel more satisfied with life.

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Berlin, one of the “happiest” European capitals. Image: Shutterstock.

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Iconic duplex penhouse by Daniel Liebeskind, Berlin (P.O.R.) View the listing

The world’s 8th greenest city: London

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$ 5,896,000

This city doesn’t need to be introduced; we will simply note that its parks and scenic waterfront locations are two features that secure London’s “one of the world’s greenest places” status.

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Blenheim House, One Tower Bridge (approx. US$7,852,952).  View the listing

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Loft apartment near American Embassy, London (P.O.R.). View the listing

The world’s 7th greenest city: Oslo

According to Knight Frank’s 2020 Global Wealth Report, Oslo leads the ranks of the world’s happiest places. What does a city need to top the list? Well, aside from lower weekly working hours and a highly developed healthcare system, Oslo has many green areas, forests, and even lakes on its territory. Simultaneously, the city boasts some of the most outstanding, otherworldly-looking architectural projects, such as the Opera House, the Munch Museum and the National Museum.

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Oslo leads the ranks of the world’s happiest places, according to Knight Frank’s 2020 Global Wealth Report. Images: Shutterstock.

The world’s 6th greenest city: Stockholm

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$1,987,000

A beautiful, northern European capital, Stockholm is built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges. The city faces the Baltic Sea and the so-called Stockholm archipelago consisting of almost 24,000 islands. Like the two other Scandinavian players mentioned above (Oslo and Copenhagen), Stockholm receives high praise for its lifestyle and urban air quality.

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Apartments offering one of Stockholm’s most spectacular views (P.O.R.). View the listing

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Exclusive penthouse in Stockholm (P.O.R.). View the listing

The world’s 5th greenest city: Amsterdam

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$5,691,000

Amsterdam’s architectural aesthetic is one of the most recognizable in the world, while its environmental and lifestyle features could evoke the envy of any European resident. The channel front penthouses in Amsterdam frequently arrive on the market with both parking and dock space.

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Amsterdam’s lifestyle features could evoke the envy of any European resident. Image: Shutterstock.

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Penthouse with roof terrace in Amsterdam (approx. US$2,798,076). View the listing

The world’s 4th greenest city: Zurich

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$4,485,000

Zurich is well-known for its high standards, exceptional healthcare facilities and numerous other aspects of upscale living, including the most scenic views of the Alps and a peaceful lifestyle.

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Zurich is well-known for its high living standards. Image: Shutterstock.

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Shipbuilding penthouse (P.O.R.). View the listing

The world’s 3rd greenest city: Hong Kong

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$11,178,000

Although Hong Kong can’t boast a carbon free environment, its waters, natural beauty, developed technology, and well-being facilities have bought the city a top position. Hong Kong’s prime residential neighborhoods never cease to attract foreign buyers. Small wonder that prices of properties overlooking the bay rival those of the most expensive areas of NYC and LA.

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Hong Kong, the Peak neighborhood. Image: Shutterstock.

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Extraordinary single house with a private pool, terrace and fantastic harbour view, Hong Kong (approx. US$114,317,417). View the listing

The world’s 2nd greenest city: Sydney

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$5,180,000

Who doesn’t love Sydney? Only those who never have visited this colorful, vibrant city with elevated eco-standards, gorgeous parks, and adorable wildlife. Sydney is rated highly for its  quality of life and well-being, green spaces, and carbon neutral atmosphere.

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President Towers, Sydney (P.O.R.). View the listing

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49 New Beach Road, Darling Point, Sydney (P.O.R.). View the listing

The world’s 1st greenest city: Singapore

Av. housing price on JamesEdition: approx. US$7,699,000

Futuristic and extremely beautiful, livable, and sustainable, Singapore is the only city (according to rankings) that has it all: the cleanest air, green landscapes, beautiful waterways, and a high well-being score. Life in Singapore is not exceptionally slow, but it is pretty well-balanced. There is always time for a refreshing Singapore Sling on the terrace of a contemporary bungalow.

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V On Shenton Penthouse, Singapore (P.O.R.). View the listing

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Ford Avenue Good Class Bungalow, Singapore (approx. US$21,436,050). View the listing

Apart from these 15 greenest places, there also are the promising cities of Montreal, Toronto, San Diego, and Tampa in North America, as well as Rome, Milan, and Helsinki in Europe and Melbourne in Australia. Some of these locations already were “green leaders” in 2015-2017 or even had been holding top spots since 2011; but, in 2019, they didn’t accumulate enough points in the well-being category to qualify to be listed.

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