Everyone dreams of having their own house. Some people dream of having one in the city but some people prefer one in the countryside.
Japan is actually giving away houses for free in some towns.
Free and super cheap homes in Japan are divided into two categories: free akiya (空き家), aka abandoned houses, and local government-driven town building schemes.
The two have two slightly separate histories and motives.
Akiya (空き家) in Japanese means ‘vacant home’ and it’s the title given to a place that people are no longer living in, forgotten and essentially left to rot. These type of houses can usually be found in the inner suburbs of Japan’s densely populated cities.
This is becoming a sizeable issue in Japan. Reportedly last 2013 Japan’s government claims that there are over 8 million properties that are unoccupied.
There are several reasons for this abundance of “forgotten” homes. One is the country’s aging population. Another one is that Japanese homeowners are quite superstitious.
Therefore properties that have been stigmatized as unlucky like those where a suicide, murder or rather commonly “lonely death” has occurred are difficult to get sold.
You’ll find available forgotten homes on what’s called an akiya bank, which lists abandoned properties for sale.
Okutama’s free house program.
If you’re looking for a cheap home that is less troublesome, but still near the city, then Okutama might be the better choice for you. This town is located in the Western corner of Tokyo Metropolis.
The Okutama program’s highlight is that owners must pay a monthly rent of 50,000 yen and after 22 years, the house is yours for the grand total of $116,160, no mortgage, loans and it is just one hour and 45 minutes from central Tokyo by train.
The cheap houses do have a few requirements though, potential owners must be under 43 years old and have children under junior high school ages. Also, bigger families are much preferred. Compared to akiya homes, these places are brand new, ready to move in and able to withstand generations to come.