LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Japan is giving away unwanted houses

Tokyo – VIJAY SHAH via LUCY DAYMAN and Culture Trip

While finding a home at even an average price is next to impossible in the big cities of much of the developed world (London, New York etc., I’m looking at you), Japan is making things a least a little bit easier for aspiring homeowners. Over there in the Far East, they are practically giving away abandoned houses for free, according to travel and culture site Culture Trip.

Some towns in Japan have started doling out residences for free, and in the very nature of town-hall bureaucracy, have divided the types of homes they are distributing into two categories.

 

The first category covers vacant homes, or akiya in Japanese. These are houses that have been abandoned, left vacant and are usually in dilapidated condition. Currently on the islands there are over eight million properties nationwide being abandoned to the elements, with concentrations of akiya predominant in large cities like Tokyo, according to a 2013 government report. About a quarter still have owner-landlords who do not bother to sell up or maintain their properties. Due to culture and superstitions, many of these properties have been left unwanted due to suicides, murders and other deaths occurring in them, which puts off local househunters uncomfortable with the lingering presence of an unfortunate soul’s passing. Demographics also play a part in the glut of unwanted homes Japan is facing, with the expensive cost of living putting off young families from moving away from their parents or rented accommodation and also Japan’s rapidly ageing population.

Unable to sell to locals, many town councils are now forced to give akiya away for free to stop them attracting drug addicts, squatters and wild animals, and to hold back urban decay. Some towns have started offering subsidies to attract potential homeowners. They now also offer online ‘akiya banks’, a sort of Gumtree for busted-up housing, with prices started from zero yen (yes that’s 0円! – bargain!!).

The second category of Japanese housing ‘on the house’ (well, technically heavily subsidised, but still very cheap) is found exclusively in the town of Okutama, on Tokyo’s western fringes. Okutama has unveiled a cheap rent to own housing scheme geared towards young families priced out of the Tokyo metropolitan market. For a monthly rent of 50,000 yen (£345), families can rent a whole house, which will pass to their ownership after a period of 22 years. There is no need to take out a mortgage or pricey housing loans, and the daily commute to Tokyo is only 1 hour and forty-five minutes (one-way). The Okutama houses are all brand-new, well-built and fully fitted, but you must be under the age of 43 and have junior school-age children.

If you do have money to splash, then fear not, you can buy an entire island off the coast of the Mie Prefecture, near Osaka, for less than the cost of an average 1-2 bedroom home in London. Now to learn Japanese, develop a taste for sushi and wave sayonara to your local overheated housing market!

SOURCES:

Sherrie Bachell/Facebook.

“Japan is Giving Away Abandoned Homes for Free” – Lucy Dayman, culture trip/The Culture Trip Ltd (8 November 2018) https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/japan-is-giving-away-abandoned-homes-for-free/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=link_japanhomes&fbclid=IwAR3t9mf53U8TQHNsly6w5rPVXUa2oG2Wvl_xg3oOAledtuNURT34SzI_Udo

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Japanese architecture” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_architecture

 

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