Australians in Singapore and Hong Kong

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It’s often repeated that there are a million Aussie expats living across the globe at any one time. However, the most recent survey cites the figure as 759,849 Australians living abroad – a number that’s likely much larger now. But where are all these Aussies living? The most popular countries for Australians are New Zealand, Britain, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Hong Kong is the home of around 100,000 Aussie expats. Meanwhile, there is a population of 20,000 Australians living and working in Singapore. And now, as the coronavirus pandemic subsides and quarantine-free travel is again becoming an option for Hong Kong and Singapore Airlines, the world is open for expats.

So, let’s look at the move abroad and whether you can buy property in your new country or back home in Oz as an expat.

Who is an expat?

An expat moves overseas with little intention of returning to their home country – at least for a while. Many Australians choose to move to Singapore or Hong Kong as they offer an exciting new lifestyle. Whether you move abroad for a relaxing retirement or move for work, you might wonder about buying property overseas.

There are very few regulations surrounding property purchases in Singapore and Hong Kong for the most part. However, you may need to organise foreign financing as Australian lenders aren’t likely to provide finance for overseas properties. Although, you can still buy property in Australia, much the same as those living there.

Australians in Singapore and Hong Kong

Can I buy property in Australia if I live overseas?

As long as you are an Australian citizen, you can buy property in Oz, wherever you live. Therefore, if you were born and bred in Australia but now live in Hong Kong or Singapore, you may still purchase a property in Australia without facing a foreign buyer’s surcharge or restrictions.

Hong Kong and Singaporeans in Australia must apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before buying land or property in Australia. Even if you’re married to a foreign spouse, you won’t need to apply to FIRB if you’re an Aussie citizen or expat.

However, you may need help securing the property from overseas. If you jointly buy with a foreign spouse, you may have to pay the foreign buyer’s stamp duty surcharge of 7 – 8%. To avoid this, only put your name on the property title.

Similarly, you may struggle to secure financing – we’ll explain the potential challenges and how we can help further. Yet, you should be able to access the same loan options as anyone in Australia, including offset accounts and competitive interest rates.

Should I invest in Australia property as an expat?

Australia’s property market has experienced an incredible boom in the past few years. Passengers from other countries might want to purchase property in Oz to take advantage of the red-hot property market.

In 2021, property prices across Australia jumped by an average of 22.4%. Experts predict another increase of 3 – 7% in the upcoming year.

What are Australian property prices like?

Most of Australia’s population lives within just eight capital cities, so property prices within these desirable areas are high. However, they also offer strong rental yield potential and capital growth. Some states are more affordable than other areas – if you want a cheaper house, opt for Darwin or Perth over Sydney or Melbourne. Australian property prices:

  • New South Wales: $1,207,200
  • Victoria: $956,100
  • Queensland: $749,100
  • South Australia: $614,300
  • Western Australia: $614,00
  • Northern Territory: $489,000
  • Tasmania: $649,200
  • ACT: $979,600
Australians in Singapore and Hong Kong

A step-by-step process for buying Australian property as an expat

Australian expats in Hong Kong and Singapore have the same property purchasing rights as anyone in Australia. Whether you’re moving to Australia from Hong Kong or Singapore or want to buy an investment property, follow our steps to purchase an Australian home.

Even if you’re married to a Hong Kong citizen or Singaporean, they won’t treat you as a foreign purchaser.

  1. Organise all your financial documents. Some lenders are wary of foreign currency income – the more evidence you can provide of your income, the stronger your borrowing power.
  2. Approach a specialist mortgage broker. You can conduct a more practical property hunt once you have a reasonable idea of your borrowing power with an Australian lender.
  3. Begin looking at the Australian property market. If you cannot leave Singapore or Hong Kong, enlist a buyer’s agent to search for you. With the current public health crisis, check Australia’s entry requirements and travel advice if you plan to house hunt in person. You may need to prove your vaccination status and wear a face mask on the international flight.
  4. Once you have found a suitable property, begin negotiations with the vendor.
  5. Get your home loan application formal approval and organise building and pest inspections – then, you’re ready to settle; the property is yours.

What must I know about living as an expat in Singapore or Hong Kong?

The good news is that you can buy property in Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia as an Australian expat. All offer excellent investment property prospects. However, they are also some of the most expensive places to buy and live globally. Australian property prices have skyrocketed in the past two years – reaching an average of $1 million.

Yet, purchasing a property with the right financing and research is possible. Don’t let the daunting figures intimidate you from purchasing your investment property.

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Can I buy property in Singapore as an Aussie expat?

Singapore is one of the major financial hubs of the Asia Pacific area. It’s an excellent but expensive place to live. Suppose you’re moving to Singapore from Australia and willing to pool your finances into buying a house in Singapore. You must know your options.

Foreigners are allowed to buy property in Singapore. However, there are a few restrictions. It’s worth remembering that expats can only purchase apartments in buildings with fewer than six stories. If you wish to live higher up, you will need government approval. Furthermore, you will need permission from the Singapore Land Authority to purchase vacant land.

To buy property in Singapore, you will need to secure finance. Unfortunately, you will need to go to a Singapore lender. Australian banks will only allow you to use your foreign property as security on a home loan.

Additionally, Australian lenders only offer AU dollar loans. Suppose you already have a property in Australia. In that case, you could release equity from your existing home to finance your new house in Singapore.

Is Singapore good for property investment?

Singapore’s strong property market attracts foreign buyers, from British expats from Singapore to Aussies. Private property prices jumped more than 10% in the last year. Experts predict that property values will rise 2 – 3% in 2022. However, the red-hot property market has its downsides.

The Singapore government has raised taxes on foreign buyers to cool the property market in the coming months. Australian expats in Singapore should watch out for stamp duty. In the last few years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore has raised foreign buyers’ stamp duty from 20% to 30%.

Singapore property prices

The average cost of property in Singapore is currently SD $2,080,533 – equivalent to AU $2,035,887.33. Public housing, known as HDB properties, is the most affordable type. On average, HDB properties are 70% cheaper than private properties.

Singapore property prices:

  • HDB properties: SD $532,756 (AU $521,323.71)
  • Condo: SD $1,780,051 (AU $1,741,853.30)
  • Landed properties: SD $5,063,507 (AU $4,954,850.39)
Australians in Singapore and Hong Kong

Can I buy property in Hong Kong as an Aussie expat?

You might never look back once you board your flight to Hong Kong airport. But can you buy a property in Hong Kong and live there permanently?

The mainland China government owns all the land in Hong Kong. Technically, it is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, rather than outright buying property in Hong Kong, it’s public policy to lease the land from the government.

Most buyers can ‘purchase’ property in Hong Kong. However, just like in Singapore, the authorities have imposed a foreign buyer’s stamp duty surcharge of 15%. There is an additional charge for second homes and houses sold within three years of purchase.

Again, you won’t be able to use an Australian home for foreign purchases. Hong Kong lenders require a 40% deposit to buy a home under HK $7 million.

Is Hong Kong a Good Property Investment?

Just like in Singapore, Hong Kong property investments are highly sought after. With limited space, strategic location, and a financial hub, demand for Hong Kong properties is vital. As Hong Kong is a city-state, every property is near shopping malls, business opportunities, and services. Particularly desirable areas include those near the National University, Repulse Bay, Mid-Levels, Tai Tam, and ClearWater Bay.

Similarly, Hong Kong is facing a property price boom as home values rose 3.9% in the first few months of 2021, with an expected increase the following year. With a substantial certainty of capital growth, Hong Kong offers a good investment choice.

Hong Kong property prices

The average property price in Hong Kong is HK $9,395,820 – equivalent to AU $1,597,148.41. The price per square metre for a property in the city centre is HK $259,404.39 (AU $44,075.79). With the average property around 40 – 50 square metres, you could pay AU $1,763,031.60 – AU $2,203,789.50.

Australians in Singapore and Hong Kong

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Expat home loans

While FIRB treats expats as Australian citizens, lenders might consider you a foreign buyer if you live and earn in Hong Kong or Singapore. This is because many lenders are wary of foreign income.

With Hong Kong and Singapore dollars, lenders may only consider 80 – 100% of your income, affecting your borrowing power. Speak to a mortgage broker about which lenders and expat home loans will be more lenient with your foreign income currency. To prove your income, ensure you have sufficient documents.

Australian banks in Hong Kong and Singapore

The central Australian banks – CommBank, Westpac, ANZ, and NAB – have Hong Kong and Singapore branches. However, you won’t be able to apply for an Australian home loan in an overseas branch.

Speak to a specialist mortgage broker about your situation to ease the home lending process. We at Odin Mortgage can help you organise your financial documents to guarantee that the lenders approve your application.

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Frequently Asked Questions

As of October 2012, there were 20,000 Australian expats living in Singapore. However, the number has likely shot up in the last ten years. Overall, about a million Australians are living overseas.

Both Singapore and Australia offer strong real estate markets. If you invest in property, they provide high capital growth and rental yield potential. Moreover, as an Aussie expat, you can still buy property in Australia.

Firstly, check your eligibility to work in Singapore. You will need a work permit or visa. Secondly, choose your industry. Singapore is well known as its financial hub. However, many IT, digital marketing, and compliance roles are available. Finally, search for your dream job online, apply, and prepare to move overseas.

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