Japan government is giving away over eight million abandoned houses at dirt-cheap prices and in some cases, for free. And here’s how you can get one. By Sushmita Srivastav
Did someone say FREE houses? If you have ever fancied owning a house abroad, this might be your golden chance. In order to bring down the increasing number of abandoned houses in the country’s suburbs and cities, the Japan government has crafted a scheme for ‘akiya’ or ghosted houses, which they are not only offering to sell for very little or in some cases, give away for free, but also to provide subsidies for renovations.
In 2013, the number stood at a hefty eight million—most of these old houses foreclosed for years due to natural disasters, country’s ageing population, and a roaming superstition that many of them have seen abnormal deaths caused by murders, suicides and loneliness. The situation is poised to get rougher as many reports say that by 2033, the proportion of vacant homes might increase by 20 percent. Though largely concentrated in rural towns, the phenomenon has now started to show up in the suburbs and larger cities as well.
Listed under the ‘akiya banks’ (online databases of deserted homes on sale) on various websites, these properties are scattered throughout the old towns of Japan, especially Okutama, Kagoshima, and Wakayama. Prices on these databases go as low as $4, while many houses are listed under ‘gratis transfer’ for literally zero yen—just pay some tax amount and agent commission fee, and the place will be yours.
However, as every other good thing, this one too comes with certain conditions. The free-housing scheme states that you will be handed over the complete ownership only after you have stayed loyal to the property and the town by living there for a certain amount of time which can go even up to 20 years or more. Also, most of these towns are willing to welcome only young families, in which all the members must age below 43 years and the children must be of at least primary school-going age.