More Chinese home buyers are purchasing properties in Southeast Asian countries for the environment, lower living costs and the potential investment bonus brought by the One Belt and One Road initiative.
Chinese are looking to countries like Thailand and Malaysia as alternatives to living in crowded and overpriced cities in China
Ever since Yang Chao, a 36-year-old who works in construction in Beijing, came back from a family tour to Phuket, Thailand two years ago, he has not been able to get the beautiful tropical scenery out of his head. Every time he closes his eyes, he can still see the crystal-clear ocean, the bright sun and the scent of fresh fruits and local specialties filling the air.
Chao was not the only one. His 5-year-old daughter cried the day they left Thailand and always asks him when they will go back.
"The day we left, my wife joked and said 'this place is so wonderful and suitable for living, why can't we buy an apartment here,' and from that moment on, the idea of owning property in Thailand stuck in my mind," Yang said.
"The air quality in Beijing is not so good. I think we need a safe haven somewhere for our family to escape to for a certain amount of time per year."
Last October, Yang's family realized their dream, and they bought a three-bedroom apartment in Phuket for 1.6 million yuan, which would not even get them a small one-bedroom apartment in downtown Beijing.
In recent years, the real estate in large Chinese cities continues to heat up with skyrocketing prices and more and more regulations. Therefore, people looking to invest in property are beginning to look overseas in many Southeast Asian countries. Homes in these areas are attracting Chinese buyers due to their geographical closeness to China, lower prices, a better natural environment and their recognition of Chinese language and culture, according to a report by cnr.cn in October 2016.
The cnr.cn report quoted the statistics released by juwai.com, a website that provides information on global overseas properties to potential Chinese buyers. In the second quarter of 2016, Thailand ranked fourth in the inquiry list for Chinese home buyers looking for overseas properties after the US and Australia. Singapore ranked eighth, Malaysia ranked 11th, Vietnam ranked 14th and Indonesia ranked 15th.
According to the same report, in 2015 the inquiries on properties in Thailand from Chinese buyers increased 41 percent compared to 2014, and the amount of inquiries over the properties in Malaysia increased 550 percent in August 2016, compared to the same period last year.
Good living environment
Beijing's air quality is an important reason that drives Yang's family to buy property overseas. Before they visited Thailand, they have considered many Chinese locations like Sanya in Hainan Province or Dali in Yunnan Province. However, they found the properties in those places are too pricey.
"The average property prices in those areas are around 20,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan per square meter. A lot of people from big cities in China are rushing to those places, and the living cost is pretty high now."
"While the property prices in Thailand are much lower; even in the capital of Bangkok, the average price for an apartment is around 10,000 yuan per square meter, and other places like Phuket and Pattaya are even lower," Yang said. "My apartment is around 9,000 yuan per square meter, and it's fully furnished by the developer."