A Cheap Houses Japan Newsletter Review (From Someone Actually Living in a Cheap House in Japan)
The most convenient way to start understanding the residential real estate market in Japan. It’s legit, it’s well curated, it’s operated by a real human, and comes with a few extra bells and whistles like the interactive map of back-listings and interesting articles.
Based on the number of hours put into curating 20 noteworthy properties every week, it is absolutely worth it. And to make it even more affordable, you can click through this discount link to get another 20% off.
Will it actually help you find a house you can buy? Yes, it can. Having lived in Japanese akiya houses (vacant Japanese houses) for a minute now, I’d like to share some additional insights about finding a cheap house here.
What Are the Alternatives?
A few phony and copycat newsletters have apparently popped up recently that follow the CHJ format. Cheap Houses Japan is the original, stemming from passion and lived experience of someone who cares deeply about Japan. He found a creative win-win solution for Japan’s housing surplus situation, provides great service to his subscribers, and has the most experience in ironing out any complications foreigners might encounter.
Japan can be… dare I say… old-fashioned when it comes to the internet sometimes, so the akiya house market really is spread out and difficult to navigate. Your other options are to work with a realtor (who generally have little financial incentive to help with cheap properties) or search through Japanese-language akiya bank websites on a regular basis (which takes a good deal of time and some know-how).
The only other method I recommend is finding a property through word of mouth – by getting involved in a community and understanding the area first. Especially if the destination is a small town in a rural area.
What Cheap Houses Japan Doesn’t Advertise
Cheap Japanese houses under $150k. Sounds great, right? What’s the catch?
Living in the Japanese Countryside Isn’t All Rice Paddies and Cute Grannies
The cheapest houses are in rural Japan areas, so expect inaka culture. Japan is a foreign country. We use the word foreign to describe things we don’t understand. So it should make sense that the one thing you can expect in Japan is that you will encounter the unexpected. From culture shock to the economy, this is a different place in many ways.
Moving to Japan is Difficult
You will often see the Cheap Houses Japan site advertise that they are showing you potential vacation homes. They know that it’s difficult to move to Japan. Visas are fairly restrictive and have an expiration date. Obtaining permanent residence status is difficult. It is possible (I’m here to prove it), but it is not necessarily easy.
The Housing Market Isn’t a Financial Investment
If you are from North America like me, you are used to seeing house values inflate with the occasional bubble here and there. The conventional wisdom is that over time, a house is a worthwhile investment. But in Japan, house lifespans are viewed as finite, depopulation makes the demand for homes fewer and fewer, and houses simply don’t hold their value the same way.
If you are buying a house in Japan, you are someone like me. You aren’t trying to be here for the money. You are someone who is following their passion and daring to imagine a simple life, a natural life, or a different alternative lifestyle.
[this image is a capture from one of the previous newsletters]
The Real Value of The Cheap Houses Japan Newsletter
Did you know that you can find affordable houses with their own indoor hot springs? Or a combination home/main level storefront? Did you know that you can get a freshly renovated flat in Kyoto for ~$80k? Thanks to the newsletter, I know these things now.
While I’m happy living in the mountains of Ehime prefecture with my husband, in another lifetime, it would have been good to know what was available before settling somewhere. Even if your plan is to wait until you are in Japan to invest, I think it’s a good idea to become familiar with what deals are available in some of the nicer, curated properties through this newsletter.
There are also legitimately many people who have used this newsletter to find the homes they purchased and live in or use as vacation homes. It’s not out of the question if your cards are in line.
Cheap Houses Japan Newsletter: Recommended, with a Disclaimer
The buying a house part is a bit more complicated than just finding a cheap house in Japan. That being said, if this is something that you are serious or curious about, subscribing to the newsletter is a super convenient, low-investment way to step into the Japanese housing market.
$10 $8/month discount rate, easy to cancel
P.S. How cool would it be to fix up a kominka like this?