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.
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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


What Malaysians are saying to increasing retirement age from 60 to 65

Are Malaysians ok to work till 65?


(Featured Image Credit from Asian Development Bank and P interest)

Why would the Government want us to keep on working?
First of all, Malaysians are living longer so many experts are justifying that we should be working longer too. With higher standards of living and health benefits and infrastructure, the “Nationally Announced” life expectancy of Malaysians are an average 74.7 years in 2016 compared to 72.2 years in 2000.  (Sources: MalayMailOnline)

Many critics have warned that these estimates can be misleading due to the inconsistencies between age brackets, gender, income levels and different ethnicity.

Secondly, increasing the retirement age could help the country save some big bucks. We all know that the government is struggling to balance their massive checkbook right now. If they were to increase the retirement age, not only would more workers pay into EPF and SOCSO for longer, but the country won’t have to spend as much money caring for retired seniors. (Read: How to retire early)

Below is the population projections for Malaysia. (Department of Statistics Malaysia)


A recent poll conducted by The Star Online found that 66% of the 3,780 participants voted “no” to increasing the retirement age.

It was also found that the majority of poll participants (1,556) chose 55 as the “ideal retirement age”, and a  mere 7% voted for 70.

It was found that the general sentiment of those who voted against increasing the retirement age was to give the younger generation an opportunity to take over the workforce.

Here are what some Malaysians have to say about this:
  1.  “After the age of 55, we need to spend time for ourselves. We should allow the younger generation to take over with ideas which are more innovative and creative.”
  2. “We notice that (work) performance decreases with increasing age. Some get paid for doing less work. Just give the younger generation a chance instead.”
  3. “It is to provide even more new jobs for the young ones. It is also to stop burdening senior citizens to comply with the latest technology.”

Others cited medical reasons for voting against the increase of retirement age.

  1. ” Senior citizens should be at the age of enjoying life and not going to work as it would affect their health.

On Sunday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim clarified that the Government was not planning to increase the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65.

Rohani refuted media reports saying that the Government was planning to raise the retirement age.

“Extensive research needs to be carried out because the mandatory retirement age was only just increased to 60 in July 2013,” she said.

Do write to us. We would love to hear from you on your thoughts.