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8.5m empty homes in rural Japan

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thomas

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If you have ever dreamt of owning property in Japan, now is your time: with 8.5 million empty homes (空き家 akiya), some prefectures give them away for free and even offer renovation subsidies. So why not work from home in the Japanese countryside?

The report found 13.6% of Japan's 62.42 million homes were unoccupied. This was particularly pronounced in the prefectures of Wakayama, Tokushima, Kagoshima, and Kochi, all of which recorded home vacancy rates over 18%. [...] Cities like Tochigi and Nagano have "akiya banks." These websites, which are developed by the city or municipal governments, list abandoned homes. Some of them are available for as little as 50,000 yen ($455). The town of Okutama in western Tokyo even hands over aging and vacant buildings for free, per Nikkei. Some new residents have found creative ways to repurpose them, turning them into workshops and eateries.


 

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I read somewhere that the population of Japan decreased by one million people last yeast, which absolutely amazes me.
 
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thomas

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By some 420,000 in 2020, according to Nikkei. Some of my friends and acquaintances acquired old farmhouses in Yamanashi and Nagano and converted them into besso and "bicycle stations". Depending on the condition and furnishing, some of them invested less than what a new sedan would have cost them (provided you enjoy frugal weekends in the sticks). With remote work becoming more accepted, it makes perfect sense to move into the country. We live in Kanagawa, on the (semi-rural) outskirts of Tokyo but I'd trade our place for some innaka property without thinking twice. :)
 

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I read somewhere that the population of Japan decreased by one million people last yeast, which absolutely amazes me.
As Thomas said, the drop wasn't as high as a million. However, there were about 800,000 births last year compared with a population of 126 million, so it's obvious what's going to happen in future. And from what I've experienced of bringing up two children here, from super-expensive school rucksacks to university entrance exams that seem to necessitate cram school, I'm not surprised that couples are daunted by the prospect of having children. And a large proportion of people don't even become couples because they have no energy left after the demands made on them at their workplace. And I've seen virtually no attempts to resolve these structural problems.
 
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Davey

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By some 420,000 in 2020, according to Nikkei. Some of my friends and acquaintances acquired old farmhouses in Yamanashi and Nagano and converted them into besso and "bicycle stations". Depending on the condition and furnishing, some of them invested less than what a new sedan would have cost them (provided you enjoy frugal weekends in the sticks). With remote work becoming more accepted, it makes perfect sense to move into the country. We live in Kanagawa, on the (semi-rural) outskirts of Tokyo but I'd trade our place for some innaka property without thinking twice. :)
Yeah, was wondering why you aren't getting a place like that.
 
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thomas

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More on akiya by the Architectural Digest. The article explains why so many abandoned houses remain empty, despite plummeting prices:

  • While foreigners aren’t excluded from buying akiya, there are a number of hoops to jump through that make owning one expensive if not impossible. Beyond renovation costs, a 1981 update to Japan’s Building Standard Law also means these homes are considered fragile enough to require structural work to bring them up to code. Furthermore, property rights make it almost impossible for people to knock down these akiya and start fresh without approval from their (technical) homeowners, despite the fact that they want little to do with the property. Thus, the unwanted homes persist, stuck between renovation and demolition.
  • Despite those hurdles, the idea of buying a home and/or starting a business for such a low price has proved too good to pass up for some. With top-level buy-in from the government, there’s always the chance that some of the legal obstacles to increasing rural homeownership could fall by the wayside. For now, though, many Japanese urbanites seem to feel that if a $500 home sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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jack6251

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If you have ever dreamt of owning property in Japan, now is your time: with 8.5 million empty homes (空き家 akiya), some prefectures give them away for free and even offer renovation subsidies. So why not work from home in the Japanese countryside?




I live in Tochigi Prefecture. I've lived in Saitama, Nagano and Gifu Prefectures too. I've visited a number of others. I own a motorbike and have often explored and I can tell you, it is SO easy to see these empty houses once you're into the more rural zones. I've told friends about this time and again, they're literally everywhere!
 
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thomas

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Here's another story of a foreign couple renovating an old building close to Tokyo (in Fujino close to Jimba-toge, a wildly attractive area for hikers and cyclists) and a look at what it takes to settle in Japan's countryside.

Japan's Housing and Land Survey in 2018 counted 8.76 million unoccupied houses and the number is set to increase. Many local authorities have websites showing the unoccupied homes for sale to try to stimulate interest and sales. But for anyone looking for a piece of the country's rural heartland it pays to enter with an element of "buyer beware," according to Parker Allen of real estate consultancy Akiya & Inaka, which helps foreign buyers looking to purchase property in the countryside. "Land is the value, not the house," he says. "With a place that is 3 million yen ($25,900) you often need another 5 million yen to get it habitable. The best deals are on existing structures with minimal renovation. The existing structure is the thing that causes the unforeseen problems." Also, not all of Japan's countryside is seen as equal. Hotspots are within two hours of Tokyo or Osaka, making them accessible weekend boltholes. Complications, especially for foreign buyers, tend to arise when trying to secure loans and navigating local regulations around individual properties. Some rules require the home to be inhabited full time, restrict changes to existing structures or come with farmland that requires active use.

 

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I've been watching this Australian guy go through the whole process, from purchase to renovation. His whole journey is fascinating. He's in Ibaraki, on the south end of the prefecture, so he is indeed within the hotspot mentioned above. It's tough to go super rural if you are raising bilingual or bicultural kids (I think). Maybe this is getting easier in the age of "remote" everything.

 

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I've been watching this Australian guy go through the whole process, from purchase to renovation. His whole journey is fascinating. He's in Ibaraki, on the south end of the prefecture, so he is indeed within the hotspot mentioned above. It's tough to go super rural if you are raising bilingual or bicultural kids (I think). Maybe this is getting easier in the age of "remote" everything.

I have watched a number of his videos as well. Lots of insights into the potential pitfalls of rehabbing an abandoned house.
 
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