Report: Chinese retirees interested in business climate, not tropics

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PETALING JAYA: Although Malaysia is known as a retirement haven for expatriates, many who apply for retirement visas are more interested in property investments than sunny skies in a tropical paradise, a Hong Kong daily reports.

This is particularly the case for Chinese pensioners, who form one of the biggest group of retired foreigners drawn to Malaysia, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said.

It quoted Andy Davison, the owner of a company that assists foreigners with the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, as saying that many Chinese had applied for the visa without actually relocating to Malaysia.

“A lot of it was because the Chinese were making major investments into Malaysia.

“And then some of the Malaysian property developers have gone to China and offered to arrange visas for people if they buy properties. So a lot of it is linked to property investment,” Davison was quoted as saying.

Last March, SCMP reported that thousands of Chinese were signing up for the MM2H programme, in what it called the “third wave” of Chinese migration to the country.

The first two “waves” occurred in the 15th century and during the mining boom of the 19th century.

In 2016 alone, over 1,000 Chinese signed up for the programme – about 43.9% of all MM2H applicants. The Japanese were a distant second at 9.2%.

Under the MM2H programme, foreigners who are under 50 years of age must bring in at least RM500,000 in terms of cash and have a monthly income of RM10,000.

For those over 50, however, all that is required is RM350,000 cash and a monthly income of RM10,000.

Kuala Lumpur-based real estate agent Nick Ho told SCMP many of his clients from China were interested in the Forest City and Country Garden project in Johor.

He said many Chinese invested in Malaysia due to the low currency.

“A lot of them actually purchase units in cash. But at the end of the day, most of them don’t stay here.

“They’re interested in Malaysia purely for the sake of purchasing properties,” he said in the report.

The RM100 billion Forest City smart city project is being heavily promoted to buyers in China and the Middle East.

Built on four artificial islands and with an area of 1,385.6ha, the futuristic town near Johor Bahru is expected to be completed within 20 years and can accommodate about 700,000 people.