On the international arena homes on the water’s edge continue to offer investors a one-of-a-kind chance to secure rare and exclusive real estate. This is no more relevant than with the enduring popularity of the Mediterranean waterfront where coastal laws prohibit further construction and are subject to draconian planning regulations. Metropolitan waterfront cities in Europe, such as Paris, London, Prague, Berlin and Florence, are safe havens for investment in the long term, thanks in no small part to the exceptional lifestyles they offer. The same can be said of similar property in the US and the Caribbean, where new plots are exceptionally rare and where development is in the mature stage of the cycle. In Australia, waterfront property premiums in Sydney have propelled it into the top ten for most-expensive cities in the world. On a planet where growing wealth is chasing fewer assets, as an investment class, waterfront property can be deemed a truly watertight option. Mark Harvey Partner, Head of International Department

International waterfront at a glance

The lifestyle a property by the water's edge afffords may be what sparks your next property journey, but it's the stats that will convince you; on average, a waterfront property can achieve the kind of premium that make it a serious investment in your future. Here are some figures from 12 destinations world-wide.


Is the average global uplift in premium for waterfront properties, when compared to similar inland property.


The typical price premium for a property with a harbour view.


Sydney with its harbourside views generates the highest premium for waterfront properties in the world.

From the panorama of Sydney Harbour to the serenity of Lake Geneva and from Hong Kong’s bustling waterways to the iconic Thames skyline, waterfront addresses are among the most desirable in the world. The Knight Frank Global Waterfront Monitor, shows that – similarly to the UK – not all prime waterfront properties are equal. Much like the diverse nature of global property – from luxury apartments in Chelsea to sprawling villas in Dubai and converted warehouses on Berlin’s River Spree – premiums vary by location and the type of amenties they’re fittted out with.

Our data shows that people from all over the world searched for prime waterfront property last year, led by prospective buyers from the UK, US, Canada and Australia. Where water is in abundance – think properties on islands such as Hong Kong, and Singapore – the premium is smaller. Singapore registers the lowest premium (7%) and here our research confirms that sea views command a higher premium than river views.

Where to next?

Our network of agents and offices across the world know a thing or two about selling waterfront property. But there's more to what they do than selling property for the best prices. As as globally connected brand, it pays to have intimate local knowledge of destinations both popular and up-and-coming. Check out these four waterfront locales from across the US, Europe and Caribbean that our expert agents believe could be the next big thing.

Sandy Lanes, Barbados, Caribbean

Edward de Mallet Morgan Partner, International Residential

Located along the pristine beaches and calmer waters of the west coast, Sandy Lane is home to a number of high-profile international residents and is where you will find the most private and secure homes on the island. The heritage of the famous Sandy Lane Resort means the area is synonymous with luxury.

More recently it has become home to some of the most prestigious addresses in the Caribbean. The beach is very private and simply put, stunning. You can enjoy a change of scenery by playing a round on the challenging Green Monkey golf course.

UK-based nationals have long made up the majority of buyers, but more recently there has been a slight surge in US and Canadian-based buyers who are searching further south within the Caribbean region for safer investments. A budget of around US$5 million would typically fetch a five-bedroom home with a swimming pool and garden within the estate.

Gigaro Beach, La Croix-Valmer, Côte d’Azur, France

Jack Harris Associate

Located on the southern side of the St Tropez peninsula, this stretch of coastline is slightly wilder, but has beautiful clear waters and is a firm family favourite due to its sandy beach and authentic restaurants. The topography also allows for south-facing sea views, which is not necessarily the case across the peninsula.

The roads to the south of St Tropez are less congested, meaning Gigaro residents can dip in and out without being in the midst of the markets and beach clubs. The family-friendly beach and green hillside attract buyers looking for an authentic Mediterranean retreat, while the proximity to neighbouring port towns is perfect for boating enthusiasts. Ideal for those looking to maximise wellness. British, German and Swiss buyers seem to be particularly prevalent, but demand is seen from as far away as the US.

Marseille Provence Airport and Nice Côte d’Azur Airport make it easy to get to, and St Tropez’s private airport is just 15km away. While most aspire to purchase a front-line four-bedroom villa, typically starting at €5 million, one can find similarly sized villas with sea views in the hills behind from closer to €2.8 million

Imperial Beach, San Diego, US

Stacey Watson Partner

This four-mile stretch of residential coastline is situated in the most southwestern corner of the US – abutting the Pacific Ocean and the Mexican border. For those looking for an active lifestyle, Imperial Beach offers great surfing, sport fishing, beach volleyball and horse riding.

The area is undergoing redevelopment somewhat, with changes to local zoning laws allowing more residential projects in the city’s commercial corridor, while approval has also been granted for a new 73,000-square-foot hotel and apartment complex. What’s more, the US Navy, which accounts for 22% of jobs in San Diego, is building a multibillion-dollar training facility in the area, due for completion in 2022. Sea Coast Drive has evolved into a row of hip craft beer and ocean-front dining destinations.

Among the developers, investors and Navy personnel buying in Imperial Beach, young families are creating the bedrock for new communities to flourish. Property wise, an older three-bedroom beach cottage with sea views will cost about US$550,000 to US$600,000, while at the upper end of the market, a brand-new beachfront property will cost US$900,000 to US$1 million.

St Petersburg, Florida, US

Jason Mansfield Associate Partner

This once sleepy Gulf Coast town now offers the best of Florida living. The city’s art, culture, fine dining, theatres and entertainment attract visitors from around the globe while an influx of investment has seen developers building vertically with mixed use luxury condo living, adding a new dimension to the downtown skyline.

Also known as the “Sunshine City”, St Petersburg feels a bit like a resort, thanks to its adventurous waterways, fishing, boating and historic parks, while cultural perks include museums such as The Dalí.

Typical homeowners in St Petersburg are from further up the east coast, and are evolving from seasonal second-home buyers, to those looking for something more permanent. State tax laws are have enticed homeowners in New England and New York to buy in Florida.

A nice waterfront property starts from around US$900,000. At the lower end of the market, US$350,000 will buy a modest two- to three-bedroom home with scope for improvements.