China Outbound Real Estate Investment is a trending attractive way for China’s HNWI to live a luxurious lifestyle with a foreign residency, manage their wealth, and provide education and lifestyle opportunities for their families.
This China Gravy article provides insightful information for international immigration companies and real estate agents who assist their Chinese HNWI clients to purchase real estate abroad for investment, citizenship, and to upgrade their lifestyle.
While investment immigration slowed down, like everything else, during the Covid pandemic in 2020/21, the buying spree of China outbound real estate investors is gaining momentum again in 2022.
China Outbound Real Estate Investment
With the findings from this article, international real estate and immigration agents, companies, platforms, and developers can
- optimize their online content for Chinese search engines to increase their exposure impactfully
- run targeted Baidu PPC ads to generate leads
- reach their target audience with influencers in their industry
- assess potential partners in China and the Greater China area (Singapore, Macao, Taiwan, Hong Kong) for collaboration to reach, convert, and serve Chinese prospective clients at optimum
But first, we’ll take a look at why Chinese HNWIs move abroad in the first place and their favorite destinations to expatriate. Then, we’ll examine the main competitors (Chinese agencies and platforms) for real estate and investment immigration-related keywords on the first Baidu SERP. Finally, we’ll show you how to reach Chinese HNWIs who seek investment immigration.
Now, let’s get started.
1. Reasons for Chinese Citizens to Expatriate
China’s 1.4 billion population is getting wealthier and wealthier. Chinese HNWI choose attractive countries around the world for themselves and their families to upgrade their lifestyle and expand their opportunities in the professional, educational, or health area as well as to gain access to attractive overseas destinations and their benefits, as the European Union.
Whether to manage their wealth (lower taxes abroad, better investment opportunities, etc.) or provide their children with excellent higher education – the booming Chinese middle class is seeking attractive foreign socio-economic opportunities.
At the same time, local conditions may drive Chinese HNWIs to seek their luck elsewhere. This may include political reasons, prosecution of minorities, lack of freedom of expression, the handling of Covid, increasing real estate prices, and access to independent information.
Just keep in mind that, unlike many countries, China does not allow dual citizenship. However, as Chinese are typically very patriotic, most HNWIs are interested in foreign residency (Golden Visa) over foreign citizenship (Golden Passport). At the same time, with the Chinese government starting to tax overseas Chinese, foreign citizenship could become more interesting for Chinese HNWIs.
On the other hand, Golden Visa investment immigration schemes provide temporary short- or long-term residency in the destination of choice. However, this doesn’t affect the citizenship/passport. In the EU, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, and Portugal are the favorites among international HNWIs, retirees, and entrepreneurs.
Overall, China has moderate taxation. The individual income tax is progressive with rates between 3% and 45%. Individuals who reside in China for more than 183 days are taxed on their worldwide earned income. At the same time, China has signed over 100 double taxation agreements. At an effective rate of 15%, the corporate tax in China is below the global average.
Demographics of Overseas Chinese Communities
To begin with, let’s take a look at the countries with the most Chinese expats (2020). We have then selected the most popular investment immigration destinations based on online visibility, keyword volumes, and social media relevance, on which we will focus on these countries in this article:
With its relative proximity and Asian lifestyle, Thailand is among the favorite overseas Chinese communities. Chinese emigrants prefer Malay-dominated provinces in the South as well as Bangkok and Phuket.
The United States of America are clearly another favorite among Chinese expats. First and foremost, wealthy Chinese appreciate the educational opportunities and the living environment in the United States. New York (865,000 expats), Los Angeles (678,000 expats), and San Francisco (582,000 expats) with their iconic Chinatowns are home to the majority of these immigrants. In fact, New York is home to the largest Chinatowns in the world.
Much more than a tourist destination for a night out or some street food, Chinatowns in the USA are vibrant neighborhoods where Asian communities maintain their rich culture, heritage, and identity. Oftentimes, there are also temples, museums, and other Chinese points of interest.
Finally, Singapore is a hotspot for overseas Chinese communities as Mandarin Chinese is one of the four official languages of Singapore along with English, Malay, and Tamil. Besides, 74% of Singapore’s 5.5 million population are of Chinese descent, 14% are Malays, 9% are Indians, and 3% have other roots. There are two Chinatowns in Singapore with ample food stalls, souvenir shops, bars, and cultural institutions.
2. Country Overview of China’s Top Emigration Countries for China Outbound Real Estate Investment
Now, let’s get an overview of China’s favorite expat destinations in terms of cost of living, taxes, and real estate (buying and rental).
Cost of Living Comparison
For the cost of living, we’re referring to the latest findings from WorldData. A total of 109 countries have been ranked. Bermuda on rank 1 is the most expensive while Angola on rank 109 is the least expensive. The cost index is compared to the USA (100). So, for example, in China, goods of daily life are 40% cheaper compared to the USA.
|Country||Cost Index||WorldData Rank||Average Monthly Income|
Next, we’ll examine the situation around taxes in the selected target countries.
In terms of taxes, we’ll take a look at the personal income tax, corporate tax, rental income tax, and the number of double taxation agreements.
|Country||Personal Income Tax||Corporate Tax||Rental Income Tax||Double Taxation Agreements|
|Thailand||0%-35% (150,000 THB ~ 4,500$ tax exempt)||20%||12.5%||61|
|USA||10%-37%||21%||taxed with personal income tax||58|
|Singapore||0%-22% (20,000 SGD ~15,000$ tax exempt)||17%||0%-20%||98|
|Canada||15%-33%||15%||taxed with personal income tax||94|
|Australia||0%-45% (18,200 AUD ~ 13,500$ tax exempt)||30%||taxed with personal income tax||45|
|UK||0%-45% (5,000 GBP ~6,500$ tax exempt)||19%||taxed with personal income tax||130|
|Spain||19%-47%||25%||taxed with personal income tax||93|
|New Zealand||10.5%-39%||28%||taxed with personal income tax||40|
|Germany||0%-45% (10,000€ ~11,000$ tax-exempt) + solidarity surcharge||15% + 15% trade tax||taxed with personal income tax||96|
|Turkey||15%-40%||25%||taxed with personal income tax||86|
|Malta||local income: 35%, foreign income: 15%||35%||15%||70|
|Cyprus||0%-35% (19,500€ ~21,500$ tax-exempt per person per year)||12.5%||taxed with personal income tax + SDC (0% for non-dom) and GeSY (2.65%)||65|
Finally, we’ll take a look at property prices and estimated real estate return of investment (ROI).
Property Prices & Real Estate ROI Comparison
Regarding property prices, we’re referring to the 2022 data on Numbeo. 112 countries have been ranked with Ghana being the least expensive country and Saudi Arabia being the most expensive one. The price-to-income ratio assesses purchased apartments for their affordability (the lower the better).
Besides, we’re taking a look at the price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city center and the price per square meter to buy an apartment outside the city center, based on the latest Numbeo data.
|Country||Numbeo Rank||Price to Income Ratio||Price/Sqm to buy an apt. in city center||Price/Sqm to buy an apt. outside city center||Estimated Real Estate ROI*|
* ROI = rental price per year (1-bedroom apartment in the city center) / purchase price (for a 60sqm apartment in the city center based on the Numbeo cost of living overview per country)
Now, before we take a deep dive into the Baidu keyword data and acquisition of China outbound real estate investment partners, let’s take a look at what the Chinese government has to say about this.
3. Restriction of Chinese Overseas Investments
As you probably know, the Chinese government keeps close tabs on the activities of its citizens and businesses.
In 2017, China published the Guidelines on Further Guiding and Normalizing the Directions of Outbound Investments. Outbound Chinese investment must be registered with the NDRC and MOFCOM for “approval and filing regime”. Outbound investments are categorized into “encouraged”, “restricted” and “prohibited”.
Encouraged are outbound investments that
- contribute to the implementation of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative
- upgrade China’s technical standards
- create research and development institutions with overseas high-tech enterprises
- contribute to oil and gas extraction
- benefit China’s agriculture, forestry, fishery, or animal husbandry
Restricted are outbound investments
- in sensitive countries or regions
- in certain industries like real estate, hotels, cinemas, entertainment, and sports clubs
- that establish equity investment funds without specific industrial projects
- with outdated manufacturing equipment
- in violation of the host country’s environment, energy, and security standards
Prohibited are outbound investments that
- are related to China’s military technology and products
- have been banned from export (technologies, crafts, products)
- are in the gambling and pornography sector
- endanger national security or national interest
Encouraged outbound investments may benefit from tax, insurance, customs, and other benefits and incentives, while restricted outbound investments will be closely examined by the Chinese government.
The following restrictions of Chinese investments, including China outbound real estate investment, are relevant for individual HNWIs and investors interested in getting a Golden Visa.
Restricting domestic households from investing abroad keeps funds within Chinese borders. This “closed” capital account policy means that companies, banks, and individuals in China cannot move funds freely in or out of the country unless it abides by strict foreign exchange rules. To date, individuals may only transfer or exchange up to 50,000USD per year.
No Dual Citizenship Allowed
Unlike many other countries, China does not allow dual citizenship. If a Chinese citizen accepts foreign citizenship, for example, through the Golden Passport through the real estate investment route, they have to be ready to give up their Chinese citizenship.
As Chinese are normally very patriotic, most investors are interested in foreign residency (Golden Visa) rather than foreign citizenship (Golden Passport). However, with the Chinese government starting to tax overseas Chinese, foreign citizenships could gain relevance for Chinese HNWIs.
A China expert like China Gravy can help you to navigate any uncertainties regarding restricted Chinese outbound investments, and to clarify your investment with the Chinese authorities.
4. Baidu Keyword Research for China Outbound Real Estate Investment
Nowadays, research typically starts with a search engine – Baidu in China and Google in the rest of the world. Therefore, we’re kicking off the China outbound real estate investment exploration with China’s most popular search engine Baidu.
Below you will find the search volumes for the most relevant China outbound real estate investment terms for the top Chinese emigration countries as of 23 February 2022, based on the Baidu Keyword Research Tool.
The higher the monthly search volume, the larger the potential reach among Chinese online users. The higher the CPC (cost per click of a paid ad), the more competition of other agencies and companies for a specific keyword.
To get an overview of the attractiveness of a country for Chinese online users, we first take a look at the search volume of each target country. This just gives an overview of the general awareness of a country among people who start their online research.
- the target country
- immigration to the target country (general)
- studying in the target country
Secondly, we’ll examine investment immigration and real estate keywords for the target countries, where we also shed a light on the main competitors (agencies, platforms) that can also be acquired as partners.
- immigration to the target country (investment immigration)
- Real estate in the target country
We have always selected the keywords with the highest search volume, which is why the keyword phrases may not be identical. For example, 想移民加拿大 (want to immigrate to Canada) has a significantly higher search volume compared to 加拿大移民 (Canada immigration).
I. Target Country
Unsurprisingly, large Western countries lead this list when choosing a general keyword.
|Rank||Country/Keyword (Chinese)||Country/Keyword (English)||Monthly Search Volume on Baidu||CPC in RMB for Baidu|
Next, we examine the investment immigration search volume, starting with a general keyword.
II. Immigration to the Target Country (General)
This keyword overview to the target country is still rather general and doesn’t include HNWIs and real estate investors as the target audience as everyone can research moving to another country.
|Rank||Country||Keyword (Chinese)||Keyword (English)||Monthly Search Volume on Baidu||CPC in RMB for Baidu|
|1||Canada||想移民加拿大||Want to immigrate to Canada||44,947||6.07|
|2||USA||移民美国需要什么条件||What are the requirements for immigrating to the US?||17,233||1.49|
|3||New Zealand||新西兰移民需要的条件||New Zealand immigration requirements||11,333||4.24|
|4||Australia||移民澳大利亚||Immigrate to Australia||8,056||3.6|
|5||Singapore||新加坡移民||Immigration to Singapore||5,898||13.34|
|6||Malta||马耳他移民||Immigration to Malta||5,701||4.12|
|14||Thailand||泰国移民||Immigration to Thailand||1,296||3.21|
Now, we’re taking a look at the search volume and CPC on Baidu for studying in the target country.
III. Studying in the Target Country
Wealthy Chinese investors often prefer for their children to study abroad and typically buy an apartment near their university for them. These are the top destinations according to the selected keywords.
|Rank||Country||Keyword (Chinese)||Keyword (English)||Monthly Search Volume on Baidu||CPC in RMB for Baidu|
|1||UK||英国留学||Study in the UK||83,746||3.11|
|2||Singapore||新加坡留学||Study in Singapore||59,607||3.75|
|3||USA||美国留学||Study in the US||13,547||1.76|
|4||Australia||澳洲留学||Study in Australia||10,534||5.76|
|5||Germany||德国留学||Study in Germany||10,159||3.39|
|6||Canada||加拿大留学||Study in Canada||7,428||5.41|
|7||New Zealand||新西兰留学||Study in New Zealand||7,009||4.73|
|8||Spain||西班牙留学||Study in Spain||5,835||5.54|
|9||Thailand||泰国留学||Study in Thailand||5,136||2.55|
|10||Malta||马耳他留学||Study Abroad in Malta||1,192||6.06|
|11||Portugal||葡萄牙留学||Study in Portugal||310||2.49|
|12||Greece||希腊留学||Study in Greece||287||12.85|
|13||Turkey||土耳其留学||Study in Turkey||230||1.24|
|14||Cyprus||塞浦路斯留学||Study in Cyprus||78||1.24|
Now, we are going one level deeper.
A. Immigration to the Target Country (Investment Immigration)
We are adding more detail by choosing a specific investment immigration keyword for emigrating to the target country.
As additional information, we’re including the key organic competitors in this list. This allows international immigration companies and real estate agents targeting Chinese HNWI clients to (1) understand their paid and organic competitors on China’s top search engine Baidu, in order to improve their own content to rank better than the competitors, (2) acquire these agencies as partners, so they can promote their projects with them.
Focusing even more on the actual real estate purchase intent keywords, we’ll take a look at the monthly search volume on Baidu and the CPC for real estate purchase keywords next.
B. Real Estate in the Target Country
Real estate is the most common investment immigration route to gain a Golden Visa or Golden Passport.
As this article focuses on a comprehensive overview of the China outbound real estate investment landscape, we’ve also researched the key organic competitors for the keywords related to real estate and the target country.
So, how can you reach these Chinese HNWIs?
5. Top Chinese Immigration Agencies and Listing Platforms
Knowing your competition allows you to stay ahead of the game! It reveals areas where you can potentially do better for your own business and helps you to adjust your marketing strategy to reach your target group first.
The largest and most visible immigration agencies and listing platforms with the widest reach in China are as follows.
Top 3 global advertising agency/platform competitors (that ran PPC ads for investment immigration and real estate keywords in combination with the target country):
Top 3 global organic agency/platform competitors (large established companies with a wide organic reach):
You can either consider these agencies and platforms as partners or analyze their performance for your own SEO and PPC.
Further Research on Chinese Social Media for China Outbound Real Estate Investment
To find further Chinese agencies and platforms for real estate and investment immigration, you can search for WeChat Official Accounts on WeChat, research hashtags on Weibo and Douyin to identify KOL, KOC, and Wanghong influencers with whom you then can collaborate.
Do you want to get a comprehensive list of more than 300 Chinese immigration agencies with all contact information, so you can easily message them today to discuss a partnership? Click here to access China Gravy’s unique real estate agent list.
6. How to connect with Chinese HNWIs for China Outbound Real Estate Investment
International real estate and immigration agents, companies, platforms, and developers can reach Chinese high-net-worth individuals through
- SEO: optimizing their website for the top Chinese search engine Baidu → increase exposure
- PPC: running targeted Baidu ads → lead generation
- influencers in their industry on Chinese social media
- Collaborating with partners in China and Greater China → reach, convert, and serve Chinese clients
Finally, let’s take a look at how to recruit real estate agents in China and beyond.
7. Recruiting Real Estate Agents for China Outbound Real Estate Investment
Selected Chinese social media platforms, search engine optimization, and marketing, a Chinese website, and marketing materials are excellent starting points to establish an effective and efficient network of real estate agents and enter impactful partnerships.
Connect with hundreds of immigration agencies, immigration law offices, and platforms in mainland China and the Greater China Area (Singapore, Macao, Taiwan, Hong Kong) quickly and easily to market your properties to Chinese investors.
China Outbound Real Estate Investment – The Takeaway
China cross-border real estate investment is an attractive way for China’s HNWI to upgrade their life, manage their wealth, as well as provide education, business, and lifestyle opportunities for themselves and their families.
International real estate agents, immigration lawyers, and asset managers can use these insights to connect with wealthy Chinese who wish to invest in real estate abroad and gain extensive benefits that come with this. Chinese SEO, PPC, KOL/KOC/Wanghong influencer marketing, and entering partnerships with Chinese specialists are the best ways to do so.
Are you excited to take the next step, but don’t know how to get started? A China expert like China Gravy will kickstart your process to lift the potential of the China outbound real estate investment market. Contact our experienced China professional to get your FREE consultation today!