Some people love making things hard on foreign investors. Asia’s emerging markets have immense growth potential, yet unreasonable levels of bureaucracy and corruption plague several countries.
That shouldn’t stop you though. As the most dynamic region on the planet, investing in Asia can help grow and diversify your assets unlike anywhere else. There’s countless opportunities here regardless of your risk tolerance or other preferences.
However, you shouldn’t make your life unnecessarily difficult either. Getting started in Asia without the hassle is still very possible when choosing the right place.
Below are three of the easiest countries for investing in Asia. They’re judged based on their minimum entry price, ease of investment, and variety of options available to foreigners.
Want to start investing in Asia while cutting the nonsense? We’ll help point you in the right direction.
Malaysia stands out as the only country in the region where foreigners can own land on a freehold basis. So they’re certainly the easiest in Asia for investors who prefer buying a house instead of the typical condo.
Restrictions on foreign investors are few and far between in Malaysia – especially compared to its neighbors. Thailand, for example, won’t let you own over 49% of a company and forbids foreign land ownership.
With that said, there’s a minimum purchase requirement on all foreign real estate buyers. You must purchase property worth at least RM500,000 (~$125,000), although some states like Kuala Lumpur and Penang have even higher requirements.
There’s also a sizable stock exchange in Malaysia. A diverse offering of more than 1,000 listed firms, along with various other options including REITs and ETFs, should keep active traders busy. Opening a brokerage account in nearby Hong Kong is the easiest way to start trading stocks in Malaysia.
Cambodia is the smallest and least developed nation on this list. But they’re the fastest growing too, achieving an annual GDP growth rate of over 7% since the start of the century.
More importantly, and like other frontier markets, Cambodia has a history of avoiding recessions. In fact, they haven’t suffered an economic downturn in more than two decades. They missed the Great Recession of 2008, the tech bubble in the early 2000s, and even the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Cambodia is now going through an unprecedented boom phase.
Because of this, investing in Cambodia is a great way to diversify your portfolio into frontier markets. Foreign property ownership, business-friendly policies, and lax visa laws will certainly make things easy on you.
Stock traders have limited options in Cambodia though. They have a stock exchange, however it’s the world’s smallest with exactly five listed companies. Most of them are semi-public firms like the port authority and electricity provider.
Thailand’s real estate sector is Asia’s most accessible by far. Foreigners buy property here more than anywhere else on the continent, at least in part because of a dynamic market and streamlined process. You can complete transfer of a Bangkok condo in under a day, for example.
Unlike Malaysia, foreign land ownership isn’t possible. But Thailand doesn’t have a minimum purchase requirement either. With a few rare exceptions, you can buy any condominium unit regardless of price.
Condo advertisements are found all across Thailand, and of course the internet too. You only must walk into a sales office to start things off. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable developer – ideally one with at least a dozen successful projects in their portfolio.
You can also trade stocks in Thailand. They boast Southeast Asia’s second largest market cap and over 600 listed equities. We have a guide with more information on this subject.
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