Buying A Home In Japan
Buying property in Japan as a foreigner seems like a daunting task, but with enough money everything is easier. Buying a vacation house is the dream of many people, but did you ever consider the ability to own property in Japan? Even foreigners without permanent residence are capable of buying a house in Japan these days. If you think the process is complex, you are only half-right. It is possible to get an English speaking job in Japan or move with a work-from-home career and live comfortably even if your Japanese level is currently quite low. More and more Americans are buying property in Japan without even speaking Japanese. Many wonder how to buy houses and what can Americans buy for their money, well no worries because we are here to help.
These are the major questions people ask about buying a house in Japan:
First I want to deal with the myth of extreme Japanese housing prices. This, like many myths about Japan, is somehow still surviving from the 90’s bubble economy. It’s incredible how these myths just keep going when the reality has not matched up for over 15 years now. The expense of buying property in Japan is very similar to that of buying it in the US or other places. In a big historic city, the cost is prohibitive. Tokyo is the biggest city in the world, and the chance of getting a property in the city limits is pretty low. Just like buying in New York City for example. And like NYC it causes “commuter cities” to rise in price as well. Most people never leave this area and come away with a stupid (frankly it is stupid) view that Japan has ridiculous land prices. That is like going to 5th avenue and saying America has ridiculous clothing prices. It’s just dumb.
I live in a countryside village in the mountains, about 45 minutes outside of Nagano city. Talking with people around town has shown me that the housing prices are on par with what I’d get in a US suburb. And it’s much prettier here than in the suburbs. From my town, Tokyo is about 2.5 hours by train if you take the fast ones.
For all those who wonder can foreigners buy property in Japan, the answer is yes! To own a house is Japan is very simple. Japan is one of the countries that allows individuals who do not have a “permanent resident” status to purchase property. In this country, to own property, you must first have your own financing, they will not provide financing to foreigners. You want to save up a serious chunk of cash. The loan system in Japan is not forgiving and frankly you simply don’t want to take a loan out here. Probably, you will not be given one regardless of your financial status anyway. Just bring cash. Japan is a cash society and nothing speaks louder than money. Abe-nomics is flying right over the heads of loan institutions and we small folk aren’t even feeling a breeze despite the international hullabaloo about it.
Like in the states, there are other charges like realtor fees and registration costs that need to be taken into consideration. This will be a bigger chunk because the realtor will have to work extra hard for you. Likely you will need to take on an interpreter or similar to get through the mountains of paperwork. If you are N-2 or N-1 it will be possible to do it yourself, but for the average American coming to Japan without speaking japanese well, it is impossible. This is probably going to be your major expense, not counting the property itself.
To own a home in Japan you need to be aware of the type of lodgings that are available. Most foreigners choose to buy condos around more populated areas like Tokyo and Shinjuku-ku. This is the most expensive thing you can do. Typically, the normal Japanese house is a detached style and a full house in the countryside or suburbs will run much cheaper than a small apartment in downtown Tokyo.
While the distance can be an issue, to buy property in Japan is not difficult. Most sellers are willing to accommodate the traveler’s busy schedule and assist with viewings anytime. Since traveling back and forth can be a bit of an issue, most realtors will also make sure that there are ample time to view as many properties as possible on your visit.
To own a house in Japan is a wonderful experience. Those with families can embrace themselves in the culture of a foreign land and teach their children other customs. For the individual who needs a break from the mundane 9-5 job they hold in the states, a vacation home in a different land is an amazing adventure. If you are wondering how to buy in this amazing country, there are realtors who are willing to help every step of the way.
Now to the difficult part.
Yes yes and yes. Number one, buying a vacation home will be easier than buying a home you intend to live in constantly. If you buy a vacation home, you can use tourist visas no problem. If you want to live there for more than 150 days at a time, THEN you will have an issue. You need a visa that describes what you are going to be doing there for half a year, and Japan is not lax about visa requirements. You need a job, basically. I have already written quite a bit about getting a job in Japan or keeping a job from home, so take a look at my next post.