Japan govt selling 10 million abandoned homes at super low prices, but nobody wants to live in them

Not sure if we can say the same if this happens in Singapore.

Tanya Ong | November 27, 2018, 06:09 PM

An estimated 10 million homes in Japan are empty.

And the government is selling and renting them at heavily discounted prices, but there are apparently not many takers.

Shrinking population

Due to the country's shrinking population, there are plenty of abandoned houses, apartments and rooms.

And recently, some prefectures have put in place schemes to incentivise families to move into these abandoned properties.

For instance, the Okutama, Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures all have such schemes.

Here's an example of what an abandoned home might look like:

House in Tochigi prefecture. Photo via

House in Tochigi prefecture. Photo via

Low rental cost

Under the Akiya scheme, "Akiya" meaning "vacant" or "abandoned" in Japanese, the home is rented out at a very low rate, and includes an option to become the homeowner after a certain amount of time.

In rare cases, some homes are even given out for free.

Rental can range from 50,000 yen to 70,000 (approximately S$605 to S$850) for an entire house.

However, there are some restrictions surrounding the application for rental.

For instnace, in Okutama, only young families are considered: The parents must be under 43 years old, and their children must be around primary school age.

Buying a house

Alternatively, one can consider purchasing the house as they can sell for as little as a few million yen.

As a rough gauge of how much that would cost, 2 million yen converts to approximately S$25,000.

Scheme is rather unpopular

While one might expect such a scheme to be popular with citizens, it is far from the case.

According to the Daily Mail report, there are several reasons for this:

  • The homes are generally located in rural areas, which may be inconvenient for young citizens looking to work or live in the city centre.
  • Japanese superstition: Old, abandoned spaces, especially homes, are often associated with suicide, murder or deaths, resulting in the perception that the home is an unlucky one.
  • Some of these spaces are dilapidated and require serious repair or renovation work. The cost of renovation for an older property would be higher as compared to buying a brand new place.

Given these reasons, Japanese home-owners much rather move into a new building instead.

And as of now, the supply of the vacant homes still far exceed the demand for them.

Top photo composite image via Tochigi Akiya