NYSE March 2013
New York Stock Exchange. Reuters

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been carried out of China by waves of newly minted millionaires leaving to live and invest overseas.

Private Chinese citizens now have about $658 billion stashed in offshore assets, according to Wealth Insight, while Boston Consulting Group estimates the number to be around $450 billion, but says offshore investments are expected to double in the next three years, the CNBC reported on Monday. A study from Bain Consulting found that half of China’s ultra-wealthy – those with $16 million or more in wealth – now have overseas investments.

But more importantly than the yuan that are increasingly exiting China, wealthy Chinese are following their money overseas. A study by Hurun and the Bank of China found that more than half of China’s millionaires are considering or have already taken steps to move overseas.

Their motivations are multifaceted. Many are moving to protect their wealth amid President Xi jinping’s crackdown on corruption and conspicuous spending. This year saw many high-level politicians fall, and many of the politically connected rich are looking for safer havens abroad. They may also be moving to allow their children to attend better schools and breathe cleaner air.

"Whether it is the perceived political instability or perhaps lack of educational opportunities, or pollution in the urban environments there,” said Peter Joseph of the Association to Invest in the USA, which represents investor-visa programs in the U.S., according to the CNBC. “…and you mix that with the wealth that's present in China now, it really makes sense that there are folks there looking to explore these opportunities."

Some experts believe wealth migration is normal. In fact, the Chinese wealthy only have about 13 percent of their wealth abroad, below the global average of 20 to 30 percent, according to Oliver Williams of Wealth Insight.

The Chinese are particularly keen to invest in the real estate markets abroad. Wealthy Chinese buyers have purchased more than $8 billion worth of residential real estate in the U.S. in the 12 months ended in March, according to the National Association of Realtors, the CNBC reported.