Where and how to start investing from overseas?

9 Replies


I have a question, I've read the BP Beginner's Guide and feel fairly comfortable with the very basics of real estate investing. My question is, my wife and I are looking to invest within the next year and would like advice on how to start investing. We're overseas (Japan) and will be here for a couple more years and would like for now to be the time to start building a foundation for when we get out of the military in 2017. I read about several niches and aren't sure what is best. Please advise such as investing in notes, buying and holding, etc. We would like to not take out a loan if we don't need to absolutely do so but are willing to. We plan on investing in central California.

I don't have a good answer to this, but being that you're overseas, I would probably wait until you're back in CA and you can actually take part in the acquisition process. If you join a partnership, you don't have any on the ground control and you're at the mercy of your partner. As a first time investor, I don't suggest that, unless it's someone you know extremely well and they have a track record.

Hi @Michael Alston ,

As Jordan mentioned above, having your team on the ground is crucial when your overseas. You want to make sure you've got a good attorney as well, who knows what your goals. When you've the got the right team in place, you can pretty much be anywhere and invest.

By the way, have you considered investing in Japan while you're here? Now's a pretty good time to get consistently good yield plus with land prices finally starting to rise, you could even see some capital appreciation over the next couple of years before you head back.


@Jordan T.,

Thanks! After giving it some more thought, I believe it probably would be best to wait. I have friends in California but I'm not too reluctant to ask them to take on a topic such as this until they possess the same passion as me.


Until you mentioned it, I never considered owning property here. I'm sure there's a lot to learn such as (ownership laws of foreigners, taxes, etc.) Thanks for the thought, I will definitely look into this.

We're an Air Force family in the UK and have purchased 3 properties from here, sight unseen. I add the caveat that we had purchased 14 properties prior to these, all of which we had seen, and I had criteria that enabled me to buy without total panic.

We would put extra income (from a tax return or a deployment, COLA, etc) into a mutual fund and let it grow until we had enough for a down payment. Because the houses I buy at a distance are new to newer (not older than 5 years), they are a bit pricier; similarly, because they are non-owner occupied that we picked up with a conventional loan, they need a fairly large down payment. In one situation, we found a Realtor from BP to find/buy the properties. In the other situation, we had a family member who owns a title company, and she recommended a investor-friendly Realtor and a mortgage provider who she knew could close.

We also have purchased two properties in the UK, both of which we have lived in and updated while we have lived in them. The first one we sold when we PCSd back to the States as younger people, and the second one we are still in. Overseas, you have the extra concerns of currency and local economy (ie potential base closure) to factor in. In total, we have purchased 17 properties, so 12 of those while posted for 4 years in the States between overseas assignments. We hit the ground running (as I expect you will) and did some fix-and-flips, a few pure flips, and a few long-term rentals. I continue to favor rentals geared towards E-5s near AF bases.

We have been going slow-and-steady buying real estate since we were both E-3s--now I have the illustrious rank of Mom and DH recently made E-8. It can be done~ Good luck with your journey!

Any reason for Central Cali? Cali in general is a really tough market, unless you are just buying for appreciation.

my advice: save your money now, but study and learn as much as possible, including about the central CA market . Buy *local* when you return. You're fortunate to return to calif where you can make solid investments for cash flow AND appreciation. See what the market is like in 2017. Don't over pay if it's high. Maybe wait until we cycle down again if need be. Make a wise first investment, and building on it will be much easier. That's what I did. You're young, so if you can get the first steps right you will be well on your way! Good luck.

@Michael Alston

Japan allows for foreigners to own outright so no era issue there. The tax, you really wouldn't have to worry about until you build up your portfolio to such a point where your income is at a reportable level, usually after 3 or 4 years or a larger than average portfolio, as most purchase costs are claimable and carry forward, but of course I would recommend you confirm that with your accountant.

I'd be happy to have a conversation with you or answer any questions you might have about owning property in Japan.

Good luck!

I am also active duty military currently stationed in Japan (Okinawa) and I had no idea we could buy property here. I would love some more information as well!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here