Japan Is Giving Away Abandoned Houses For Free

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Abandoned house in JapanPA

If you’re on the look out for a house on the cheap then you may wanna head over to Japan.

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That’s right, look no further than the Land of the Rising Sun for a bargain gaff which won’t keep you waiting around for a mortgage approval.

To keep perfectly (well, near enough) good homes which have been abandoned from going to waste, Japan is introducing a program to try to reduce their numbers by offering them free of charge.

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At the very most they’ll be incredibly cheap, which is a whole lot better than the state of some housing price tags over here in the UK.

Over eight million properties across Japan are unoccupied, according to a 2013 government report, reported by the Japan Times. Nearly a fourth have been deserted indefinitely, neither for sale nor rent. Figures which would stun a large percentage of westerners.

To add to this, in Tokyo — where 70 per cent of the people live in apartments — more than one in 10 homes are empty, a ratio higher than in cities like London, New York and Paris.

Part of the problem is Japan’s ageing population. Not an awful lot of young people have been able to purchase the homes of those who left for retirement homes or died.

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The youth of Japan are said to be taking longer to have families in general and thus have no need to buy a sprawling house.

man on smartphone JapanPA

According to Japanese superstition, properties associated with suicide, murder or ‘lonely deaths’ are considered bad luck. A site called Oshimaland lists such houses to avoid.

Rethink Tokyo wrote in a October report:

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In 2015, two towns made news with building and giving away houses to young families: Shichikashuku in Miyagi Prefecture and Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture.

In May 2018, Okutama, which is actually part of the Greater Tokyo Area but remotely located, joined their ranks as the town looked for housing applicants. Applications have now closed and the new Okutama citizens are expected to move in in January 2019.

Rented out at a very low rate with the option to become the owner after a certain amount of time describes the free-housing schemes more accurately. For example, in Shichikashuku, the rent for one of the detached houses provided by the municipality is JPY 35,000 per month.

Should you stay faithful to the town and continuously live there, the ownership of the property, home and land, will be handed over to you after 20 years. This would equal paying a JPY 8.4 million (approx. USD 74,000) mortgage to make the home yours, which is still a very good price.

I’ll say… maybe? $8.4 million sounds a fair bit.

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