LGBT Chinese Attracted by Bangkok and Phuket

accommodation, LGBT, Thailand, China

LGBT party at Maggie Choo in Bangkok

Chinese citizens are increasingly buying condominiums in Bangkok and Phuket. Especially LGBT Chinese…

According to a real estate website Juwai.com, Chinese homosexual communities are increasingly attracted to settle in Bangkok and Phuket. Especially Bangkok and Phuket are now the top destinations in Southeast Asia for LGBT Chinese to buy properties to live as they feel comfortable in these cities.

The website’s chief executive, Carrie Law, explained to the newspaper Bangkok Post that mainland Chinese buyers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) probably account for 5-8% of total property-buying inquiries in Bangkok. With the volume of buying inquiries reaching close to one billion dollars in Bangkok over the past 18 months, LGBT inquiries are estimated to generate about US$50 to US$80 million.

According to the website, LGBT Chinese purchasing power is enormous. It represented US$938 billion in 2017, a growth of 300% from two years earlier. The group’s average monthly income is five times larger than the national average. “The advantage in disposable income may be even greater because they do not have children,” Ms Law said to the Bangkok Post.

Despite their spending power, LGBT individuals face difficulties in their daily life in China. Homosexuality is officially classified as a mental health disorder in China as recently as 2001. However, they do not face anymore repression like in the past.

“Overseas, however, many feel free to openly express their identities and their affections and live openly with the partner of their choice,” Ms Law said. “They want to own property in a place they can feel comfortable visiting and living in.”

Because LGBT international property buyers invest differently than other Chinese. “LGBT buyers are more likely to be buying a pure investment property or a residence for their own use as a second or third home,” Ms Law said. “More often they are seen buying in destinations that are popular vacation destinations for LGBT travellers.”

According to a recent report by Juwai.com, Thailand is perhaps the most tolerant country in Asia, and Bangkok is known as Asia’s gay capital, viewed as a gay-friendly haven for Chinese tourists and property buyers.

Same-sex sexual activity is not illegal in Thailand. Buddhist monks often officiate over same-sex marriages. Gay-oriented nightspots cater to Chinese tourists.

Nearly a dozen travel companies offer gay-themed trips to Thailand. Some local bar owners report that they have added Chinese songs to their playlists.

“LGBT Chinese buyers prefer the central business district, but if they can’t afford a more central location, they are willing to purchase in a suburban area with good transit connections,” Ms Law said. “Budget is the biggest determinant for location.” At $4,500 per square metre, new luxury apartments in Bangkok sell for one-sixth the price of similar housing in Hong Kong. For buyers in the lower price brackets, Bangkok offers new condominiums starting at $130,000. That figure is among the lowest in any major city popular with buyers from mainland China.

Like Bangkok, Phuket is an appealing market for Chinese LGBT buyers seeking to fulfil lifestyle and investment goals. Phuket is one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in Asia for LGBT tourists. The resort destination also features dozens of LGBT-oriented venues, especially in the Patong area. Each April, thousands come for Phuket’s weeklong pride festival.

In the wake of the Phuket boating disaster on July 5, buyer inquiries dropped to 17% of the long-term average, but indications are that the decline will be temporary.

Southeast Asia contains five of the globe’s top destinations for Chinese LGBT international property buyers, with three factors driving buyer interest: tolerance, proximity and affordability. The region is home to a number of cities that, for cultural reasons, display tolerant attitudes towards LGBT individuals. Apart from Bangkok and Phuket, these include Phnom Penh, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City.

(Source: Bangkok Post)