Beijing’s persistent smog seems to have put a dent in the city’s appeal to tourists. Last year, Beijing Youth Daily reported that the number of visitors to Beijing had fallen 50 percent in the first nine months of 2013, compared with a year earlier; the newspaper attributed the decline, at least in part, to the city’s infamously bad air quality. Hiring managers in China also report greater difficulty (subscription required) attracting mid-career expats to Beijing, especially those with young children.
The blanket of toxic smog hasn’t hurt Beijing’s office market, which jumped up three notches on a global ranking by Cushman & Wakefield to become the fourth-most-expensive location to rent office space in the world. According to the real estate firm’s “Office Space Around the World 2014” report, office space in Beijing’s Central Business District costs on average €1,027 ($1,412) per square meter per year.
That’s more expensive than No. 5-ranked central Tokyo (€1,003; $1,380) or No. 6-ranked Madison & Fifth Avenues in New York (€Euros; $1,366). Cushman & Wakefield’s rankings took into consideration both published rental rates and “additional costs,” which includes agent fees and other costs of doing business.
London (West End) remains the world’s most expensive city in which to rent office space, with total costs running €2,122 ($2,919) per sq. m. annually. Hong Kong, home to the priciest office space in Asia, came in second globally (€1,432; $1,970). Moscow ranked third (€1,092; $1,502).
The cities included in the ranking that experienced the highest annual growth in office rental rates were both in South Africa: Rental rates in Durban’s Central Business District spiked 40 percent, and rates in Sandton, the financial district of Johannesburg, rose 44 percent. Meanwhile, downtown office rates in both Jakarta and Bangkok increased a hefty 20 percent.
The Cushman & Wakefield ranking, which does not take into account the economic impact of recent unrest in the Ukraine, lists Kiev as the world’s 39th-most-expensive office rental market—one notch above Athens.