Japan is literally giving away free houses. Want in?

Could you live in Japan? What if you could pay next to nothing for a house?

Japan is literally giving away free houses. Want in?

Japan is a one-of-a-kind destination. It’s quirky, kitschy and could be one of the coolest places on the planet. Its cuisine alone is “worth the detour”, says the Michelin Guide, which has Japan in the top two countries in the world with the most Michelin-starred restaurants.

A strong sense of community, adherence to cultural values and respect for history and its elders, along with a technologically advanced society make Japan an extremely attractive destination.

But could you live there?

Would a free house get you over the line?   

According to Rethink Tokyo, there are more than 8 million vacant properties in Japan, many of which are being sold for next to nothing and many are basically being given away. And they’re not in the middle of nowhere, either. Many are in or around the outskirts of major cities, while some are in more ‘rural’ areas.

These unoccupied properties are being listed for sale on online databases known as ‘akiya banks’. Akiya means ‘vacant house’ and thousands of these empty homes are in relatively good condition and going for small change – at least when compared to the Australian property market.

Most homes are selling for a maximum of 30 million yen (about $375,000 Australian dollars), and some are listed under ‘gratis transfer’ for the sum of zero yen. You just need to pay some taxes and commission fees, and the place is yours.

Japan’s glut of vacant houses can be largely attributed to its ageing population. Most older people move in with younger family members or retirement homes and simply leave abandoned dwellings. Another reason is that Japanese people are very superstitious. If anything bad happened in their home – such as suicide, murder, or ‘lonely deaths’, which are all thought to bring bad luck in Japanese culture – they often leave it.

Hence the 8 million abandoned properties. If this trend continues, by 2033 it is estimated that there will be around 20 million abandoned houses. The Japanese Government, in a bid to encourage home ownership among younger people and perhaps draw some foreigners in to help prop up the economy, is offering incentives, such as subsidies for those who take over and renovate old properties.

In contrast to Australia’s housing shortage crisis, the housing supply in Japan is at an all-time high and demand is at an all-time low. You can even claim an Australian Age Pension in Japan. Could it be that Japan is now ripe enough for you to consider a foreign investment property or even a downsize and ‘sea-change’? We’ve contacted RethinkTokyo to find out if it’s possible and we’ll keep you posted.

Read more at Vice.

Would you consider moving to Japan?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Apr 2019
    Japan is a place I would gladly live if in the right location. The people are simply wonderful and it would be nice to escape the dishonest and toxic politics of Australia as well as live with people who are respectful, caring and would do anything to help people other than themselves. Those qualities are are all but dead in Australia.
    The only concern I'd have is the ability to actually move to Japan for more than 30 days a year as the Japanese do not throw their country open to all comers, which is why they do not have racial tensions, social tensions and a high crime rate............that should get the blood of the politically correct going!

    I'll certainly have a look into this Leon. Thanks for the information. Cheers

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