Japan's Cheap Homes
Foreigners flock to take over Japan's abandoned houses
As house prices climb, hundreds of Australians are looking to Japan and its abandoned houses (akiya) as a cheap way to get onto the property ladder. SBS investigates these daring renovators’ bid to achieve the 'The Australian Dream' in Japan.
"I don't think I could ever own a house in Australia. And I mean, my friends are paying 600 or $700,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, let alone a house," says Dara Robinson, a Queenslander who has relocated to Japan in the hunt for more affordable housing. "More than 90% of Japan’s 125 million residents live in cities…a population trend that has left roughly 14 per cent of the country’s overall housing stock empty." SBS reports. For Dara, and thousands of Australians like her, the millions of abandoned akiya in the Japanese countryside are attractive candidates for the chance to own a property. These Australian first-time buyers are welcomed by the Japanese locals: "the country has among the highest inheritance tax rates in the world. The top rate stands at 55 per cent – leaving many Japanese not wanting to inherit their family home." Foreign buyers provide a cheap and easy way to bypass this financial blow for Japanese inheritors, or for those looking to move from the countryside to the city.FULL SYNOPSIS