If you’re a prospective homebuyer who is struggling to gather up the money for a downpayment or to be approved for a mortgage, you may want to consider moving to Japan. To keep good homes from going to waste, Some towns and home-owners in Japan are trying to reduce the number of abandoned homes across the country by offering them up for free, or selling them for next to nothing. Perhaps surprisingly, there are tons of abandoned and empty houses on the outskirts of Japan’s major cities — eight million of them according to a 2013 government report.
Japan’s aging population is partly responsible for the high number of abandoned houses in the country. There are few young people to purchase the homes of those who left them for retirement homes or who passed away. And the young people who are present take longer to have families for which they would need a home. To top it off, Japanese superstition makes selling old homes difficult as well. Properties associated with suicide, murder, or “lonely deaths” are considered bad luck, and there’s even a site called Oshimaland listing properties to be avoided.
Many homeowners are simply left with no choice but to give the houses away for free, with some local governments offering subsidies to encourage potential new owners to renovate the properties. Akiya banks are databases of abandoned homes for sale, which are generally organized by region. Most of the listed homes are either free, or being sold for peanuts. So if you want to get yourself cheap digs in Japan, the time is ripe.