Research article

European cities

Europe’s high quality city centres are a big draw for global talent but the right space can be limited by lack of investment or the wrong type of development, and local governance can both help and hinder occupiers

This report is about the people and organisations who live and work in European cities. Companies looking for workspace in Europe have a great variety of cities to choose from. We have selected 12 to examine in more detail, ranging from the global megacity of London to the much smaller, specialist cities of Frankfurt and Warsaw.


▲ Frankfurt: a niche city

European cities stand out among other global cities for many reasons. For occupiers, some rents and occupation costs can look low and competitive compared to other global cities and there is a large, prosperous and educated workforce. But, corporations can be discouraged by the sheer variety of languages, taxation, real estate law, customs and transparency across the continent.

We have examined some of these issues, including corporate and personal taxes, workspace and living space costs and availability. We have characterised and identified the strengths of different cities, their populations and economies so that organisations can see which cities suit them best and for what reasons – on a directly comparable basis. The results suggest there are a host of reasons to take a closer look at real estate in European cities for business occupation, not least young, talented productive and educated workforces.

The European cities we have examined in this document look very different to other gateway global cities in the US and Asia. Some can be much smaller than their world fame might suggest. This, and being denominated in a relatively unpopular world currency, means only the investment giants of London and Paris and the economically strongest nations have attracted large amounts of cross-border capital investment in recent years. But the fundamentals of underlying occupier demand are strong and the cities are in a good position to compete for companies and workers looking for a home.

We think the perceived disadvantages of leasing or buying property are overdone in the cities studied. High-performing cities with good prospects for economic and population growth, able to compete on the global stage, are being overlooked by both employers and investors because they co-exist on the same continent beset by anxiety over the future of the euro, the EU project or the European economy. But, in common with cities worldwide, the best European cities seem able to function at least somewhat independently of the states and unions in which they sit. They deserve a closer look and their real estate markets have much to offer both occupiers and owners.

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