Quick takes: Why are Chinese people buying property abroad?

Feb. 26, 2019, 12:58 p.m.

After reading a few headlines you might think Chinese people are leaving their country en masse. But a quick glance at history books will remind you that there’s a huge legacy of emigration from the world’s most populous country. 

According to a 2016 report from the Transatlantic Council on Migration (TCM), 4% of all the world’s migrants came from China as of 2013. This puts it in fourth place of all the world’s source countries.

More relevant, however, is the fact that those emigrating from China are mostly high-skilled individuals. The report showed that the emigration rate was 1.8% among those with high education.

In Southeast Asia and elsewhere, the influx of wealthy Chinese means a rising demand for real estate and other investments. But why is there such an appetite for property abroad? Why not buy more property in China.

Leading experts in the sector often cite four main factors incentives leading Chinese buyers:

1. Investment

Developing nations hold huge investment potential. What’s more, many investors can tweak growth formulas that were previously used in China to find success in other countries.

Many see real estate as one of the safest kind of investments, preferring it over stocks, bonds or currency. Chinese buyers are often shopping for affordable land. So, they often look to developing nations.

Hang Sokunthea, research manager at Belt Road Capital Management, said that price point was a huge factor for Chinese property buyers coming to Cambodia.

"The price here is still much cheaper than their home country and Cambodia has stable economic growth and political stability. It is also important to note that the wave of Chinese property buyers is now a global phenomenon which has just slowly come to Southeast Asia and Cambodia," she said.

2.  Boost their living standard

This can go hand-in-hand with investment. In China, an overseas property can be a status symbol. According to data published by Bloomberg, 70% of home purchases in China were either second or third homes.

While developed countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand hold prestige, having an additional home in a developing country can also be a signifier of wealth.

3. Migration

Chinese buyers often buy real estate if they plan to migrate in the future. This allows them to avoid the typical costs of renting property. Many migrate for job or business opportunities, or even retirement. 

Despite efforts by the Chinese government to increase employment, hiring is a highly competitive process. Therefore, to access more opportunities, many Chinese people move abroad, especially in labor-intensive countries.

4. Pursue Education

According to data from the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, as of April 2018, there were about 1,454,100 Chinese students studying abroad. 

Many wealthy Chinese choose to buy a home or apartment for their children who are studying in Western nations. The TCM’s report showed that nearly a third of all the international students studying in the US in 2015 were Chinese nationals. Migration for education is also growing in Australia, the UK and Canada.

Three out of four ain’t bad

While Cambodia may not be a destination for education, it certainly hits on the other three factors. Given its proximity to China, it is certainly on the radar for those looking for a holiday home.

Favourable investment regulations also mean the Kingdom is an attractive place to relocate for business. As more luxury buildings come online it’s also a hotspot for investment properties. 

If you want more information about foreign investment read out Investment Guide. If you're shopping for a property start browsing new developments in Cambodia.

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