Property Investment Visas in Asia: Your 5 Best Options

Property Investment Visas in Asia: Your 5 Best Options

Last updated December 16th, 2023.

In most ways, getting a residence visa or second passport is forever outside our control. We can’t change factors like our country of birth or who our parents are.

Property investment visas are unique because anyone with enough spare cash can buy their way into a long-term residence permit.

Of course, some real estate investor visas are more expensive than others. Several less-developed countries will give you residence merely by owning any property within their borders, no matter the cost.

Generally, though, you should expect to pay a few hundred thousand dollars to obtain residence in countries that are desirable among expats, retirees, and investors.

Buying a long-term visa isn’t possible for everyone due to cost restrictions. Investment residence permits typically aren’t cheap.

Regardless, it’s excellent to have these programs available as an option. You wouldn’t have as many fast, simple methods to permanently live abroad if property investment visas didn’t exist.

 

Condos located in central Bangkok have doubled in value over the past decade. If you bought property worth above US$350,000 a decade ago, you’d now have both the Thai residency and a solid investment.

 

You can even make money off real estate investment visas. Selling your property after it appreciates, or simply renting it out after buying it, can give you foreign residence plus returns.

Home prices rising over time is certainly never guaranteed. Yet a few countries don’t place any rules on selling your property after obtaining permanent residency or citizenship – and still keeping the latter afterward.

Asia’s top five property investment visas are listed below in no specific order. Your own needs might vary, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

 

Malaysia: My Second Home (MM2H) Program

The Malaysia My Second Home program is arguably Asia’s most well-established property investment visa. With a history spanning decades, it’s not just a long-term residency but a complete package.

MM2H was suspended in 2020 before resuming in late 2021. However, it came with significantly higher requirements, making the program less attractive.

The requirements after suspension demand that applicants show RM1,500,000 (US$360,000) in total liquidity while putting RM1,000,000 (US$240,000) of that sum in a term deposit held at a Malaysian bank.

You can withdraw up to half of the term deposit’s amount to buy property in Malaysia or for expenses related to education or healthcare.

MM2H applicants of any age must also show at least RM40,000 worth of monthly recurring income from abroad. Moreover, new applicants must be aged 35 or above and spend at least 90 days per year in Malaysia to maintain the visa.

Despite the program’s benefits, which still include free medical insurance, work permits, and being able to import personal items tax-free, these stricter requirements have caused a sharp decline in applicants.

But the good news is on the horizon for this Malaysian investment visa.

Another revision of the MM2H program has recently been announced, with changes that seem to be favorable for applicants in 2024 and beyond. The actual date for this updated program to become effective is yet to be confirmed though.

The most obvious change in the newly updated program is that it will offer visas in three categories: Platinum, Gold, and Silver, each with its own requirements and benefits.

The Platinum tier will require a fixed deposit of RM5,000,000 or around US$1,000,000, which they can withdraw 50% of that amount and spend on property purchase, healthcare, and education after a year.

The Gold and Silver categories require RM2,000,000 and RM500,000, respectively.

Other than the financial requirement changes, the eligibility criteria for this investment visa in Malaysia have also changed.

For instance, the age of applicants has dropped to 30 instead of 35. The previous 90-day stay-per-year rule has also changed to 60 days.

The revised program will see an expansion in dependents of applicants as well; parents and parents-in-law will be considered as dependents of applicants, in addition to the already allowed spouse, children under 21, and a live-in maid.

The more relaxed criteria will now allow children of applicants up to age 34, with conditions that those must still be single and are not working in Malaysia.

The revamped MM2H program aims to appeal to investors and entrepreneurs, especially the younger generation.

Unfortunately, demand for Malaysia’s investment visa is weak lately. Whether these more relaxed requirements can bring in applicants remains to be seen.

 

South Korea: F-2 Investor & Jeju Island Visas

South Korea’s investment residency is one of Asia’s few programs that can eventually lead to citizenship.

Jeju Island, known as South Korea’s version of Hawaii, used to have a real estate investment residence entirely unique to the province. In the recent past, you could have qualified by owning property in Jeju worth 500 million won.

However, the Jeju property investment visa, along with the related Incheon one, had an expiration date which ran up. The cost then doubled in price to 1 billion won, or around US$750,000.

Getting a long-term investment visa in Korea by owning property is harder than before. Thankfully, you can still live here on a business visa – it’s oftentimes more practical and certainly less expensive by comparison.

Korea’s foreign investor program is called a F-2 Visa. The minimum capital requirement is KRW300,000,000 (about US$260,000), and you must show company balances, among other documents, to prove your company is financially viable.

Eventually, it’s possible to naturalize and become a South Korean citizen after being a resident for five years and learning the language. This time is shortened to two years if you’re married to a Korean citizen.

Keep in mind that South Korea doesn’t allow dual citizenship, though. If you become a national, you must renounce your existing citizenship.

 

Turkey: Investor Residence Permit & Citizenship

Turkey recently made some positive changes to its requirements and is the second of the residence programs on this list that can eventually grant you citizenship,

Several years ago, Turkish citizenship by investment (CBI) was among the region’s least popular. It had barely a few hundred applicants within years of its introduction because the program was far too expensive compared to other CBI options.

A minimum real estate purchase requirement of $1,000,000 made little sense compared to the countless cheaper and better citizenship options worldwide.

Yet its plummeting currency and generally poor economic conditions forced Turkey to change its mind. They reduced the requirements to just $250,000 worth of property – a substantial reduction of just 25% on the original price.

Then, they raised the price to $400,000 a few years later as the program became extremely popular with Russians and Ukrainians fleeing their home country.

We suppose $1 million was too high, and $250,000 was too low. Either way, Turkey has a history of changing their citizenship by investment (CBI) program’s price every few years.

Granted, despite a recent price in property values due to short-lived foreign demand, Turkey doesn’t have as much appreciation potential as other countries on our list.

 

Istanbul’s luxury housing market is getting a much-needed boost because of citizenship promises and a battered lira.

 

Quick, easy citizenship in a regional hub like Turkey is difficult to pass up for US$400,000. Few “real” countries (i.e., reasonably developed and not just an island) will let you naturalize for that price.

As for the Turkish economy itself? There are lots of reasons why we’re not anyone near as optimistic. Consider looking elsewhere if your priority is investment first and citizenship second.

 

United Arab Emirates: Dubai Property Investor Visa

The Emirate of Dubai has a residence program unique to it. Like Turkey, Dubai’s long-term investor visa has also gone through positive changes lately.

Before new rules were implemented, applicants had to buy a freehold property in Dubai for at least AED 1 million (approximately US$270,000). You receive a two-year renewable property investor visa in return.

Dubai raised the amount of time granted under their residency visa program to ten years back in 2018, though.

Changing from a two-year renewable visa to a ten-year stamp might not seem important at a glance. Yet submitting police checks and medical reports and waiting for immigration every 24 months can be a huge pain.

That’s especially true if you aren’t living in Dubai full-time and are just buying an asset in exchange for residence. You’re probably way too busy outside the country.

One important reason for new visa rules is the heavy oversupply in the real estate market. Rentability is difficult, appreciation prospects are low, and I can’t suggest buying property in Dubai if your priority is making money.

Regardless, you can now get investor residence in Dubai without dealing with local bureaucracy once every year or so. I wish that were the case with our final option.

 

Thailand: 10 Million Baht Investor Visa

Quite frankly, Thailand’s investor residence program doesn’t look that great next to the competing visas on our list.

By comparison, you can gain citizenship in Turkey for about the same cost as the Thai real estate investment visa.

It’s certainly not cheap, nor will you ever get Thai citizenship from this visa. Nonetheless, Thailand tops off our list of property investment residencies in Asia.

You must invest at least ten million baht (about US$320,000) in Thailand to qualify for this visa. The investment can be made in property, bonds, fixed deposits, or any combination of those.

Buying multiple properties also works. For example, you can own five Thai condos worth two million baht each and rent them out, though this also means dealing with tax payments.

Thai residence through investment won’t allow you to get a work permit, but it’s still an annual visa that you can extend every year, assuming the investment is maintained and not sold.

Nowadays, we’re uncertain whether buying property in Thailand is a good investment. Rental yields are below 5%, while condo prices aren’t the deals they once were. You should expect to pay US$6,000 per square meter in central Bangkok.

Yet there isn’t anywhere else quite like Thailand, and the country has a unique charm. It’s a great place to spend time and a convenient base to access frontier markets such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Thailand also introduced the Long-Term Residence (LTR) visa in 2023; there are five categories, including those aimed toward pensioners and “wealthy global citizens.” Applying for the original 10 million baht investment visa is still possible, though.

 

Why Are These Asia’s Best Property Investment Visas?

We considered several criteria when judging these investment residence programs. A few are subjective, whereas others are a matter of fact.

First, their respective governments fully recognize and support all the programs above. They aren’t back-room deals pitched by “somebody who knows a guy.”

You may be surprised by the sheer number of scam visas sold online. Investment residence programs you read about online aren’t always legal or possible in practice.

In some countries, paying off government employees might get you an identity card, visa, or even a passport. But it’s illegal and a great way to get your residence revoked in the future. It could also lead to imprisonment, deportation, or a permanent ban from entering the country.

Second, we looked at the level of bureaucracy involved – or rather any lack thereof.

The five residence visas mentioned in this article are generally straightforward, with a clear list of requirements. Visa processing times usually range from a few days to three months.

Finally, we kept value for money in mind. Getting a long-term visa in a developed nation like the UAE or South Korea is generally more valuable than one in an emerging market.

A residency that will eventually grant you citizenship is also inherently better, assuming all other factors are equal.

Hopefully, you understand how to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by not only investing in Asia but getting residence here, too.

 

Skip the Next Western Recession

Learn the best places to invest - and where to avoid - by downloading our free Investment Cheat Sheet.

READY TO GROW AND PRESERVE YOUR WEALTH?

Join 50,000+ monthly readers. Discover property, stocks, and other investments that will drive global growth in the 21st century.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE