Academic and popular debates around the movement of financial capital tied to the residential housing market in global cities such as London, tend to focus on the super-rich, wealth management and pension funds. While such debates acknowledge that these large scale capital flows influence socioeconomic structures of the destination cities, relatively little is known about how middle-class money flows across national and city boundaries, and between key intermediaries. This article aims to address these empirical and conceptual lacunae by examining the practices of middle-class Hong Kong investors, many of whom have been investing in properties worldwide since the early 1990s. Using ethnographic research and interviews carried out in Hong Kong and the UK, this article sheds light on the investment activity of two groups of middle-class investors: the wealthy middle-class and the aspiring middle-class. The article shows how a wealthy city-state like Hong Kong, with a laissez-faire economy and established international real estate sector, has enabled the outflow of capital to the global housing market. The article also highlights the ability of ethnographic studies to help us look inside processes of transnational housing investment.
- Hong Kong middle-classes
- UK housing market
- residential real estate research methods
- second home ownership
- transnational property investment