What properties can you buy in South East Asia as an Expat?

10 Laos


No one can own land in Laos, but land-use rights are possible (up to 75 years, or 50 years for companies). A Lao citizen with land-use rights may lease the land to a foreign-invested company for up to 30 years. There is a vague law that allows for these land-use rights by foreigners only if investing at least USD $500,000 into the government. And while it’s possible to own a structure upon leased land, when the lease expires, the structure reverts to the government without compensation.

9 Myanmar 

Foreign investment is extremely regulated and restricted, and foreigners cannot own land. It’s possible to lease for up to 30 years, but with rampant corruption, there is no security. Alternatives include making a contribution to a joint venture with the government, or to lease land from the government and then enter into an agreement called a build, operate and transfer (BOT), which allows the investor to own the project.

8 Vietnam

Nobody can own land in Vietnam. One estate agency, Chesterton, markets 50-year leases to foreigners buying apartments, which provides for many of the same rights as ownership. Alternatively, foreigners can form a company or form a build, operate and transfer (BOT) company.

UPDATE: Vietnam will allow foreigners to buy houses for the first time with one simple requirement, they must enter Vietnam legally.

They will be able to own the property for a maximum of 50 years and enjoy the same rights to lease, transfer or sell the property as Vietnamese citizens.

The new law will extend the rules that currently apply to apartments, according to the amended Housing Law which will take effect on July 1, 2015.

The law passed with 77.46 percent approval in the National Assembly during a Tuesday session.

Foreign entities who have invested in housing projects in Vietnam, foreign-invested enterprises; branch and representative offices of foreign companies in Vietnam, foreign investment funds; and foreign bank branches will all be entitled to purchase real estate under the law.

According to the amended law, foreign individuals and entities will only be allowed to buy, receive, or inherit apartments and houses in commercial projects and not in areas that limit or ban foreigners.

They are able to buy a maximum of 30 percent of apartments in a block and 250 houses in a given ward.

Individual foreigners may extend their home ownership after 50 years, according to their need. The government provide further details about the extension process in the future.

They may lease their property for any “purposes that is not banned by law” but must also inform the provincial house management agency before leasing the property.

Foreign property owners will also be subject to the nation’s property taxes.

Foreign entities can already buy property to house their employees, but they are not able to lease or use it toward any other purpose.

7 Brunei

All land transfers, freehold or leasehold, are subject to the approval of the King, and foreigners cannot own land without approval. Foreigners who legally reside in Brunei can hold properties under strata titles, and residents as well as locally registered companies can hold long-term leaseholds of up to 60 years. Banks, however, will not grant mortgages to foreigners, not even foreign residents.

6 Indonesia

Foreigners can own condos through strata titles, but the property developer holds the title. Land ownership is also out of bounds but land-use rights are possible for up to 25 years. However, if a local buys the land on behalf of the foreigner, the foreigner may have either permanent land-use rights or full power of attorney over the land. Another option is to form a company called a Penanaman Model Asing (PMA), which can be wholly foreign owned.

5 Cambodia


Foreigners cannot own land but can lease land, or purchase it though a local company (51% Cambodian owned). Another alternative – having a local buy the property on a foreigner’s behalf and then leasing it to the foreigner – is illegal and discouraged. In general, corruption and greed mean that for any foreign investment, extreme due diligence is required by the buyer.

4 Philippines

Foreigners cannot own land but apartments and condos are possible, as long as locals own 60% or more of the units in any development. Leases are available on land for up to 50 years. It is possible for a foreigner to form a commercial partnership with some locals to buy land, but even then, the maximum for residential properties is 1,000 square metres or one hectare in a rural setting.

3 Thailand 


(Modern minimalist home in Thailand: Baan Moom)

Foreigners cannot own land but can own apartments or condos (as long as 60% of the building’s units are owned by locals or the foreigner buys the whole building). Foreigners can lease land, but with few rights. Investing THB 40 million (USD $1.2 million) into a project may get you up to 1,600 square metres of land. Many foreigners form a Thai company, at least 51% Thai owned, or marry a Thai citizen (but in in the event of death or divorce, the land still does not belong to the foreigner).
How i bought my first Vacation Home Abroad 

2 Singapore


Without approval, foreigners cannot buy restricted properties, such as a vacant lot, residential land, landed property, unapproved condo development or a Singaporean Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat. Foreigners can purchase an apartment,  condo, and a leasehold estate in an otherwise restricted property (for up to seven years). Approval is considered for permanent residents or those who prove to be of significant economic or professional benefit to the country. There is also a scheme that allows purchase of landed properties by foreigners on Sentosa Cove.
How i rented and turned it into a Money Making Hostel

1 Malaysia

Old Street, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia is the only country in South-East Asia that allows full foreign ownership of property and land. Foreigners can purchase any type of property if spending a minimum of RM250,000 (USD $78,456)*. This allows for up to two condos in a development with no more than 50% foreign ownership, or one condo plus a two-plus storied terraced house, or one condo plus land, bungalow or semi-detached house. Foreigners can also get a renewable 10-year visa through the Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H). For more information, visit mm2h.gov.my.

*Except in the state of Penang, where minimum investment must be RM 2 million on the island, or RM 1 million on the mainland for landed properties, or RM 1 million on the island or mainland for stratified properties. Sale of property in Penang is only allowed three years following purchase. 

**Picture Credit : Andy Yeung , Blazepress


Author: Addicted2startup

Choong Yen is a Penangite from Malaysia. He has always had an entrepreneurial attitude. Coming from a school of hard knocks, learning the hard way to survive in a tough environment. His high school was notorious for gangsters and disciplinary problems. Mixing with the right people was key to where he is now. As there is a saying, ‘You are who you associate with”. He started many different entrepreneurial ventures from Online Tourism related activities, to selling custom designs online. He found his calling was when he started his own Hostel, to a Chain of Hostels and the rest was history. Yen’s un settling attitude towards contentment always pulled him toward new business ventures. Having seen the hardship plaguing the general low to middle class population in Asia, he is on a mission to share the success stories of successful people who have succeeded in life, and their lessons learned with people who are struggling to get out of hardship and pursue their dreams.

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