From brownstones in London’s Chelsea to sprawling bungalows in Adelaide, the property aspirations of Singaporeans have long extended overseas.
It’s no wonder, too, considering the pandemic-induced supply crunch of local homes and higher stamp duties. As more Singaporeans seek to relocate overseas for retirement and property investors attempt to avoid hefty taxes, local appetite for international property shows no signs of abating.
Of the 860 Singaporeans polled by PropertyGuru in 2021, the top three destinations for Singaporeans are Australia (25%), the United Kingdom (15%) and Malaysia (12%). What exactly makes these places popular, and what should prospective buyers look out for?
Real Estate Down Under
There are lots of things for Singaporeans to love about Australia. It is developed, relatively close to home, and full of wide open spaces and fresh air.
Although Australia is no longer offering retirement visas due to overwhelming response, there are other options for Singaporeans looking to retire on the continent. For example, prospective residents who have net business, investment and personal assets of at least AU$2.5 million can quality for the investor stream of the investor visa. If successful, the visa is valid for five years.
Australia is also a traditional hotspot for property investors due to its affordable housing market and stable political environment. However,2022 saw fast-rising interest rates and high prices, which caused many investors to quit the market. They look set to re-enter this year though, with prices reportedly sliding for the ninth straight month in January.
Buyer’s Haven in Britain
Given its well-established Asian community and popularity among students, it is no surprise more Singaporeans are flocking to the UK. Over40,000 Singaporeans already reside in the country, mostly in or around London.
Like Australia, the UK has ended its retirement visa programme. But retirees have other options, such as ancestry or family visas. After remaining in the country for five years under a valid visa, you can also apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
There was a surge of investment interest in UK property last year due to a brief reprieve in stamp duties, with enquiries from prospective buyers from Singapore jumping by 40%.
However, buyers should take note that stamp duties are back in force, with a 2% surcharge for non-UK residents.
Home Across the Causeway
Naturally, Malaysia is a popular destination for retirees and property investors due to its proximity to Singapore, low cost of living and perks like great beaches and great food.
For investors, Malaysia, with its strategic location next to Singapore, is a “promising destination”, said Mr. Winston Lee, PropertyGuru’s Director of Special Projects.
“Malaysia has captivated the attention of Singaporean property investors, for two key reasons: its strategic proximity to Singapore and the undeniable advantage of competitive property prices,” he observed.
“As investments, Malaysia’s properties have attractive potential. Beyond that, it also offers Singaporean investors who seek international property investments with seamless convenience and accessibility.”
The lower cost of living is also a draw for retirees looking for tranquillity and comfort, he added.
The Malaysian government is now trying to attract non-Malaysians with the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme, which allows non-citizens to live in the country for an extended period of time. Applicants should note that the MM2H visa programme was recently updated to include stricter requirements. For example, participants must now reside in Malaysia for 90 days annually and have an income of at least RM40,000 (S$12,000).
Kuala Lumpur’s transport infrastructure is set to receive a boost with an estimated US$7.4 billion in investment to expand train lines. With full operation expected by 2030 and better connectivity on the horizon, property interest will likely be rekindled.
 Singapore Consumer Sentiment Study H1 2022 (PropertyGuru)
 Retire in Australia from Singapore (Australia Made Simple)
 Australia’s housing prices fall for ninth straight month (Reuters)
 Moving to the UK from Singapore:(IAS)
 Hongkongers and Singaporeans lock horns (SCMP)
 Stamp duty for non-UK residents (Galliard Homes)
 Penang’s easy living is big draw for expats looking to retire (Straits Times)
 Malaysia’s MRT3 project to become fully operational by 2030 (Railway Technology)
 Home and away: What’s fuelling the rise of Singaporeans investing in property abroad? (CNA Luxury)