China’s middle-class dream of a second home in Malaysia dashed by coronavirus and geopolitical tensions

China’s middle-class dream of a second home in Malaysia dashed by coronavirus and geopolitical tensions

  • Many Chinese people have left Malaysia, opting to sell their homes remotely rather than wait to see when and if they will be allowed to return
  • Individual Chinese investors are often unprepared – both financially and psychologically – for the risks of overseas investment, expert says

Patricia Li is dismayed and saddened by the exodus of Chinese people she is witnessing in Johor, the southernmost state in Malaysia.

When she moved to the tropical Southeast Asian country from Yunnan province in 2017, the outlook was bright. Thousands of middle-class Chinese investors were flocking to Malaysia to buy property and secure a second home beyond China’s borders.

A number of Chinese developers have also invested heavily in Johor, promoting its proximity to Singapore and developing real-estate projects tailored for affluent Chinese people eager to make overseas investments or embrace a new lifestyle abroad. Since 2011, Guangdong-based developer Country Garden says it has invested close to RM20 billion (US$4.83 billion) in Malaysia, creating more than 1,500 jobs.