Singapore's free-market economy is ranked the most open in the world.

Malaysia. The Philippines. Indonesia. Singapore. Thailand. Besides the obvious geographical factor, what else do these South-East Asian countries have in common?

Best investment returns, according to a survey at the Asian Financial Forum 2019. With favourable taxes, quality of life and technological readiness, the region has eclipsed China — foreign direct investment flows into ASEAN, which consists of 10 countries in South-East Asia, rose to a record $137 billion in 2017, from $123 billion in the previous year.

If you’re financially stable and are looking to buy a property overseas, the easily accessible cities in South-East Asia might just be the perfect places in which to invest. With a burgeoning services industry, high connectivity and growing economy; on top of affordability and political stability, we look at the top five countries in South-East Asia that shareholders and CEOs are buzzing about.

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

1. Malaysia

Malaysia is among the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment in South-East Asia: its accelerating, diverse economy and legal infrastructure — which is well-suited to support it — makes it a hub for sustainable investments, with Islamic funds as the centrepiece. The country has made it easy for foreigners and expats to own property, being flexible when it comes to legal issues relating to the buying of properties. Apart from certain rules and restrictions, there is no limit on the number of residential properties a foreigner can purchase! And the attractive Malaysia My Second Home programme allows foreigners who fulfil certain criteria to stay in Malaysia for as long as they wish, on a multiple-entry social visit pass — perfect to escape those cold winter months.

Manila skyline. The metropolis stretches as far as the eye can see.

2. The Philippines

With a substantial decrease in the country’s external debt in recent years, declining poverty and a sustainable growth trajectory, the Philippines, with its population of 106.6 million, is an attractive country for foreign investment — thanks to its young, well-educated and dynamic workforce. Named as one of the Next Eleven economies by Goldman Sachs, the Philippines is a leader in business process outsourcing — one of the fastest growing industries in the world. While there are some restrictions when it comes to buying property in the Philippines as a foreigner, it’s possible to buy a condominium unit or flat, as long as the block remains at least 60% locally owned. There are alternatives, however, if you’re determined to own land, such as buying it via a corporation.

The Selamat Datang Monument in Central Jakarta, Indonesia.

3. Indonesia

As the fourth most populous country in the world and the largest economy in South-East Asia, it’s easy to see why Indonesia is such a highly attractive place for investors. On top of its beautiful natural attractions, young and technically trained workforce, growing domestic market, and political stability, Indonesia’s current economic situation may well be the right time to invest in the country. To support its domestic economic growth and to attract private foreign investors to invest in the property sector, Indonesia has made it easier for foreigners to own land in the country, with the recent announcement that foreigners can now purchase land using the HGB (Right to Build) title.

Singapore’s lively Chinatown.

4. Singapore

One of the Four Asian Tigers, Singapore still roars loud and strong with its highly developed and successful free-market economy — ranked the most open in the world. A corruption-free business environment, prudent monetary and fiscal policies, and transparent legal framework make it a good place for business: expats have long been attracted to the city-state for its safe environment and high standards of living. There are plenty of opportunities for foreigners to buy a home in Singapore, ranging from condominium units, flats, strata landed house within approved condominium developments, and more. Purchasing landed properties are restricted, however, but foreigners have the option of the enchanting Sentosa Cove, a resort residential zone.

The Chao Phraya River flows through Bangkok before emptying into the Gulf of Thailand.

5. Thailand

With its capital Bangkok just an hour-long flight from four rapidly growing frontier markets, namely Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar — among the world’s fastest growing economies in the world, providing Thailand with easy access to cheap labour along with almost 200 million consumers — the Land of Smiles is indeed very inviting to investors. Similar to the Philippines, foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand, and the most common option is to lease the land for a maximum period of 30 years, which can be renewed up to three times — or just buy a condominium! Foreigners can own a condominium with their own names and receive freehold ownership of the unit.

Sharing is caring!