This Surprising Location Holds Some of the World’s Priciest Real Estate (Hint: Water)
By Natalie Obiko Pearson @ Bloomberg
January 24, 2018

It’s among the world’s most-expensive real estate per square foot, where the oceanfront views never tire, and where the price of entry buys access to the otherwise inaccessible—165 apartments aboard The World, a condo cruise ship.

Key Takeaways

  • Condo ownership has strict rules, such as requiring buyers to have $10 million in assets
  • Unit prices fall between $1.8 and $15 million for the range of available residences
  • Price per square foot for the various unit types is between $4,285 and $6,200

It took Trevor Rowe, chairman of Rothschild Australia, fewer than 72 hours to decide to buy a two-bedroom unit in 2012. At 1,391 square feet, the new home was a tiny nook compared with his expansive house in Sydney. Yet inch for inch, it tops the price of real estate in some of the world’s most-expensive cities, including London and New York.

“I bought for the lifestyle,” Rowe, 73, tells us in an on-board interview in Vancouver, where the vessel recently docked. He accrued his wealth as an investment banker in Asia, New York, and Australia and estimates that he has visited Tokyo at least 40 times. “I’d been everywhere in my life but had seen nothing.”

Ownership is restricted to those with at least $10 million in assets, and potential buyers must gain the backing of two existing residents, pass background checks, and be ready to pay roughly $900,000 a year in annual maintenance fees for the larger units. Once in, they gain admission to an exclusive club that golfs at midnight above the Arctic Circle, drinks Champagne among the world’s oldest sand dunes in Namibia, and stands at the rim of an erupting volcano in Vanuatu.

“Friends asked me how I got in—I still don’t tell them,” Rowe chuckles with a wink. Since he bought in, he’s been to Antarctica three times and counts the Galápagos, Machu Picchu, and the Russian Arctic among his most memorable adventures.

The residences start at 290 square feet and run up to about 3,500 square feet, with prices ranging from $1.8 million to $15 million. Prices of individual units aren’t disclosed publicly—although we were able to Google some sales brochures—but the above figures indicate an approximate range of $4,285 to $6,200 per square foot. That tops the average square-foot price of luxury homes in Hong Kong, London, and New York and, in some cases, may even surpass that of Monaco, the world’s priciest market at $5,420 per square foot, according to figures from Christie’s 2017 report on luxury residential real estate.

Life aboard

Amenities aboard would be familiar to those who’ve traveled on a smaller luxury cruise liner (or perhaps ever rented an entire one). Aboard the 12-deck, 644-foot vessel are two pools, a full-size tennis court, a golf simulator with an on-call pro, a Pilates studio, and a billiard table that’s cantilevered to accommodate the ship’s sway. A wood-paneled library stocks leather-bound classics, and a full-size theater offers lectures, including a recent visit by Shuji Nakamura, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 for inventing energy-saving LED lights. Residents can swing by the for-profit art gallery and grab a $50,000 Picasso etching of a minotaur on their way to the 7,000-square-foot spa.

And, of course, there’s wine. The ship’s constant motion “isn’t great for cellaring, so it’s meant to be drunk,” says residential director Lisa Spiller of the 16,000-bottle collection. Owners have a roughly $30,000 food-and-beverage allowance that’s included in their hefty annual maintenance fee, which can be spent at the vessel’s six bars and five restaurants.

View the original article at Bloomberg