The global economy may still be in dire straights, but if demand for rental office space is any signal, things could be looking up.
The global market for office rentals grew 3 percent in 2011, up from just 1 percent the year before, according to property consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield. Driven by increased demand and strong gains in emerging economies, the rate for office rentals increased substantially in several cities across the globe
Asian cities saw particularly strong growth, most notably in China where a housing and construction bubble continues to be one of the main economic drivers. In Beijing, for example, office rental rates increased 75 percent over the year, surpassing rates in New York City. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Tokyo, along with London, make up the top three cities with the highest office space rents.
Questions remain as to whether China can continue such levels of momentum as experts predict the nation's construction bubble may soon burst. Cushman & Wakefield expects Hong Kong rents to next year fall between 10 and 15 percent, according to Financial News.
The same can't be said for residential rentals in the United States, where big enough rent hikes are expected to prompt one Morgan Stanley economist to dub 2012 "The Year of the Landlord." Many Americans are now opting to rent as the trauma of the housing burst and foreclosure crisis remain fresh in many Americans' minds. In the final months of 2011 the nationwide apartment vacancy rate fell to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Here are the top 10 global cities with the most expensive office space rent, according to Cushman & Wakefield: