Last updated December 28th, 2023.
Usually, investors buy property for two reasons: rental yields and capital appreciation.
Rental income and appreciation are both equally important. After all, cash flow doesn’t help much if you have a depreciating asset.
Likewise, real estate is illiquid by nature. Cash flow lets you profit from your investment property without selling it.
In practice, capital appreciation prospects are harder to predict beforehand than rental yields though.
Market analysis and otherwise doing your research can help take some of the guesswork out whether your asset will appreciate in value or not.
But when it comes down to it, nobody is psychic or truly knows where real estate prices will head in the future.
Estimating yields is a lot easier, on the other hand. It’s just a matter of looking at similar properties in the same neighborhood, seeing what price they’re rented for, and making a comp.
Towards that goal, we’ve created a list of cities with the highest rental yields for anyone wanting to maximize their income.
Keep in mind that we’re only looking at large, capital cities though. There’s no reason to fill up this list with smaller places like Battambang, Cambodia or Taunggyi, Myanmar.
Thailand’s capital of Bangkok has Asia’s fourth highest rental yields. You can expect moderate returns of around 5% in most parts of the city like Ratchathewi, Sukhumvit, and Silom.
You’ll see even higher rental yields further out in areas like Bang Na, Phaholyothin, and on the Thonburi side of the river.
Like all other places on this list, smaller one-bedroom apartments enjoy better yields compared to larger units in Bangkok. However, the city faces an oversupply of one-bedroom condos right now – especially in the suburbs.
You might find it more practical to buy two or three-bedroom condos in Bangkok despite their slightly lower yields. Renting these units out is much easier.
Thailand also ranks as one of the weakest economies in Southeast Asia. Its GDP growth rate – about 3% on average over the past decade – still outperforms most western nations. But this number remains unimpressive by emerging market standards.
Buying a condo in central Bangkok costs about US$6,000 per square meter on average. Real estate prices drop below US$3,000 if you’re buying in a suburb like Bang Na or Phaholyothin though.
In Thailand, you’re able to own freehold condo units as a foreigner. All land is reserved for Thai citizens though.
High rental yields aren’t everything. Large, expensive condos in some parts of Bangkok’s city center have tripled over the past decade. Meanwhile, the price of smaller, high-yield units in the suburbs were generally flat.
The Philippines is third on our list. Rental yields in Manila hover around the 5%-6% range in some parts of the metro area.
Not only that, but the Philippines is among Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy too. GDP typically increases by above 6% during a normal year, outpacing practically all of its neighbors.
Furthermore, the Philippines has the strongest population growth in the region. Its current population of 103 million will rise to over 140 million over just the next 30 years.
Population growth in the Philippines should drive future demand for real estate in prime areas and in turn, lead toward healthy appreciation over the long-term.
The bad news? Much of the Philippines’ future demographic potential is already priced into the market.
Prime real estate values are simply too high considering the Philippines’ current stage of development.
At about US$4,000 per square meter, a luxury condo in Manila’s is about as expensive as buying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That’s despite the fact that Malaysia is far wealthier than the Philippines.
Asia’s second highest rental yields are in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Yields often exceed 6% here, especially when it comes to older shophouse apartments.
You might have visions of Pol Pot and genocide when “Cambodia” is mentioned. It’s been half a century since the 1970s though.
Nowadays, it’s arguably the most forward-thinking and pro-business frontier market in Asia.
Cambodia’s economic growth is equally impressive as their rental yields. Like many other frontier markets, Cambodia’s record of avoiding recessions is strong. They skipped the tech-bubble of the 2000s along with the 2008 crisis.
Predicting capital appreciation is hard. But we think Phnom Penh’s property market has better growth prospects compared to just about anywhere else in Asia.
Why? It’s because Cambodia’s largest city is one of very few in the world (and certainly the only Southeast Asian capital) where you can purchase prime, central real estate for below US$1,000 per square meter.
Plus, unlike practically all other frontier markets, Cambodia has a tourism sector. Millions of foreigners visit Angkor Wat every year which is a valuable source of income.
This gives credence to the idea that Cambodia could follow an economic trajectory similar to neighboring Thailand’s.
Because of these reasons, we have reason to believe that property values in Phnom Penh have few places left to go except upwards.
Rental returns in Jakarta, Indonesia are commonly above 7% per year. As such, Jakarta tops our list and boasts the highest yields in Asia.
There’s one big problem though: making profit from Indonesia’s real estate market is difficult since foreigners cannot own property in their own name. As a non-local, the best you can get is a 70-year leasehold title.
70 years is a long time. Yet the question still stands: do you really want to “invest” money in a depreciating asset that you don’t even truly own?
With that said, Indonesia is gradually becoming more open to foreign investors. Rules will likely change at some point in the not-so-distant future. And the government is already taking steps in the right direction.
This concludes our list of which cities have the highest rental yields in Asia!
Consider investing in these four rental markets if you seek steady income, allocation to global real estate, and of course, stronger-than-average yields.
Skip the Next Western Recession
Learn the best places to invest - and where to avoid - by downloading our free Investment Cheat Sheet.