5 Best Cities in Asia to Buy Real Estate – InvestAsian

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Last updated January 5th, 2024.

When buying a house in Asia, choosing the correct city is perhaps even more important than the country.

Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

This may sound confusing, but we have a reason.

Real estate markets are usually driven by local factors such as employment opportunities and housing supply.

Therefore, a nation’s broader economic data, which analysts typically use to determine how well the country’s doing, isn’t going to be relevant to the performance of its property market.

For example, if you purchased a luxury condo in one of Bangkok’s central neighborhoods ten years ago, your asset would have doubled in value since then.

However, if you bought a similar property in Pattaya, a world-famous seaside town two hours’ drive away, then you’d be facing a buyer’s market due to oversupply problems and weak tourist numbers. Your asset probably wouldn’t have appreciated much, if at all.

And your results in neither of those cities would correlate with Thai GDP growth or any other general economic indicator.

Returns depend on the specific location you’re buying in. But that doesn’t mean choosing a country isn’t important; property laws are determined at the national level, and the country’s geopolitics stability can also affect the nation’s economy.

Still, appreciation and rental yields will mostly rely on the precise city or neighborhood.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying properties as a lifestyle choice or buying to obtain residency.

Buying a house in Asia simply because you’ve fallen in love with the city and genuinely want to spend your time there is pretty common.

However, we’re more interested in returns than residency here at InvestAsian, and that’s what we will cover in this article.

Keeping all that in mind, below are Asia’s five best cities to buy real estate, listed in no particular order.

The cities are judged based on appreciation prospects, demographics, rental yields, and various options available to foreign investors.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is one of the world’s most visited cities. Just in 2023 alone, over 28 million foreign travelers visited the city.

During a typical year, its annual tourist arrivals outrank favorites like London and Paris.

Thirty-five million foreigners visit the “Land of Smiles” each year on average. Naturally, this means Thailand is often people’s first experience with emerging Asian markets.

It’s probably no coincidence that surging Chinese tourist arrivals occurred around the same time as rising condo prices and transaction volume in central Bangkok. The city quickly became Asia’s top destination for Chinese property buyers abroad.

Some areas in Bangkok, such as Ratchada Road, have also become well-known as the new Chinatown. Restaurants and service providers in the area have equipped themselves with Chinese language menus and speakers, readily welcoming the incoming crowd.

Thus, Bangkok’s property market is perhaps your most liquid choice in Southeast Asia because of its plethora of realtors and fresh flow of foreign buyers.

Remember also: you aren’t just investing in a house or condo unit when buying offshore real estate; you’re holding a stake in the currency your asset is denominated in, too.

It’s therefore worth mentioning that Thailand’s Baht is among Asia’s best currencies lately. Since the turn of the century, the baht outperformed currencies frequently used as a storage of wealth, including the Singapore Dollar and Japanese Yen.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, while often overlooked in favor of Bangkok, arguably has the region’s most open and competitively priced real estate market.

In fact, foreigners are allowed to own freehold houses in Malaysia, making it Southeast Asia’s only country where non-citizens can legally buy land under their own name.

Foreign property owners can even get a long-term visa through the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program.

Malaysia is ASEAN’s third wealthiest nation, right after Singapore and Brunei. Upon hearing that, you might assume that property in Kuala Lumpur would be more expensive than other cities on this list, but it’s quite the opposite.

In KL, you can buy a luxury condo right in the city’s center for around US$4,000 per square meter, though the price is about the same as in Manila and definitely less expensive than in Bangkok.

These factors make Kuala Lumpur one of the best cities in Asia for real estate. Malaysia’s lack of foreign ownership restriction, good value for money, and residency opportunity make it a complete package deal.

For all these reasons, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the most versatile cities to purchase a house in Asia.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Due to strong urbanization and a healthy birth rate, Phnom Penh’s current population of two million will double by 2030. Indeed, Cambodia’s capital is ranked among Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing cities. 

A steadily increasing population, along with Cambodia’s rising middle class and other growth drivers, equals greater demand for central real estate in the long term.

Phnom Penh’s finance district hosts more than a dozen global banks, such as ICBC, Bank of China, and ANZ.

Meanwhile, AEON Group from Japan recently built two huge malls out in the suburbs, with each of them achieving 100% occupancy and several thousand visitors per day.

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