Long-term residency visas are sought after as people search for pandemic ‘safe havens’, Thailand and Malaysia being the top picks among the Chinese and Japanese.

Rising xenophobia might be rearing its ugly head worldwide but that doesn’t deter determined people from obtaining residencies in other countries perceived as being a ‘safe haven’ from the pandemic. Both Thailand and Malaysia are two countries receiving a lot of attention lately from well-heeled foreigners as both emerged out of the pandemic with declining new infections and have been lauded worldwide for their successful battle against the virus.

Georg Chmiel –
Juwai IQI Executive Chairman

Top of the pick is Thailand’s Elite visa which has attracted hordes of applicants from China. Not surprisingly since Thailand is the number one destination for real estate buyers from China in 2020, according to Juwai IQI enquiry data.

Explains Juwai IQI Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel: “The coronavirus has led to many Chinese applying for long-term residency in Thailand. The Southeast Asian country is respected for having handled the outbreak very well. The June and July resurgence of cases in Beijing was especially powerful as a demand driver.“COVID-19 has made everyone think again about how and where they live; you spend so much time in your home when you are on lockdown or working from home. People want to be prepared in case something like COVID-19 happens again.

“Not a few have decided to move overseas to Thailand, which seems safe and pleasant. It’s true that Thailand was the second country to confirm a COVID-19 case back in January, but managed to avoid a large-scale outbreak. Thailand has not seen a case of domestically transmitted COVID-19 in two months.”

Elite + Health Visa

Seeing such a deluge of applications and in view of the ongoing pandemic, the Thai government now plans to bundle health insurance into the Elite visa offering.

In the past, Thailand had attracted lower-income retirees but found that sometimes they could not pay for their own health care if they fell severely ill. The new healthcare package will include a complete COVID-19 test and a range of other health services. Thailand has an excellent low-cost healthcare system, which makes it especially appealing.

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