If you have ever considered moving to Japan, maybe now is the time.
Millennial home-buyers will be interested to know that the country is giving away free homes or selling them at massive discounts as part of a government scheme to address the unique housing crisis the country is facing.
In 2013, a government report revealed that over 8 million properties across Japan were unoccupied. It is expected that this situation will worsen as the nation’s population declines. According to according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security, the population may drop from 127 million to as little as 88 million by 2065, meaning even fewer people will need houses.
Some of these houses can be yours for free, or for very little, with the government also giving out subsidies to those willing to renovate them.
There are databases, organized by region, devoted to assisting buyers find these homes, known as “akiya banks”.
The idea behind the akiya scheme to to help young people get on to the property ladder, while also helping to revitalize towns that may otherwise end up vanishing.
On one particular akiya database, the maximum price for any house is about 30 million yen (about 280,000 US dollars), while there are many properties listed as “gratis transfer” for the price of zero yen. The only expenses involved would be some taxes and agent commission fees.
There are two main factors that can explain why the government has ended up giving away homes. One is Japan’s aging population, and the other is superstition.
Any property that has been associated with a tragedy such as suicide, murder, or “lonely deaths, are thought to bring bad luck, according to Japanese culture. This makes it extremely hard for them to be sold on to a new owner, which only adds to the growing number of vacant properties that fall into disrepair all around the country.
If you’re wondering what you have to do to acquire one of these homes, firstly you will need to move to Japan. The only requirement is to have a permanent resident visa, and to get one of those you’ll need to be a highly skilled immigrant or have a job offer.