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Has anyone ventured into buying houses or apartments in Japan?

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Just wondered if anyone has bought an apartment or a house in Japan? Any thoughts on the subject? It is an annual discussion between my hubbie (Japanese) and I (Brit).....should we, shouldn't we? At the moment our rent is a crippling figure and the cost of land in Hiroshima isn't so expensive. Makes buying here seem to make more sense. But the deposit alone would buy me a nice little flat outright in Scotland (well, maybe not quite).

Just a topic on my mind lately.......and wondered if any of you (especially the mixed families) had considered it?

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Considering it, yes.


The basic thing is knowing where you want to live. If you want to live in a little flat in Scotland, that's what you should buy. If not, it's best to forget about it. For the same money, you may be able to buy a large estate on Java, but if that doesn't quite fit in with your plans, there's not much point in mulling over it. Nearly everyone I know is living with half their mind back 'home', and they don't seem any the happier for it...


If you know where you're going to be staying, and you're renting, then you'd probably be better of buying, especially if you buy land.

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I'd heard that to get a mortgage as a gaijin, you had to have permanent residence or seishain status. I do hope this is wrong. Many gaijin can't even get a credit card without sticking a bundle of notes in Citibank.


Most people here get more than one loan, it seems. Interest rates are very low.


Instead of appreciating like in the UK of late, the value of your home will probably fall, even if the value of the land itself appreciates. However, you can build it the way you like or can reform it like they do on those trendy TV programs. Life is short, so if you can afford it...

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Not for me.


I have a nice place for 35,000 a month, not sure where my future lies, no hassle.


Buying something sounds like a massive move. But good luck to ya!

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From what I learned, one needs permenant residence to get a Japanese morgage here. It may be possible to get a (yen) loan from one of the foreign banks here (ANZ?).


Japanese interest rates are so low, morgage re-payments are much lower than rent. If you were to rent out your apartment here, the return would be considerable (much higher than a similar investment in the west). Prices are ridiculously low in the city now.

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As I said, my husband is Japanese so we don't have the prob of not getting a mortgage coz I'm a foreigner - and I do know a guy who is a Brit married to a Japanese and they got a mortgage ok........yes, he needed permanent residence.

The main prob I have is that buying property here is like buying a car - it depreciates and isnt an investment. Whilst I'm fine about making that kind of commitment for a short term loan, the idea of being tied into a 30 yr loan for something thats probably going to end up almost worthless by the time ive paid it is very scary. The interest rates are low and rents are high is good for now but 30 yrs is a long time and anything can happen - especially high interest rates. Even though 1.5% sounds low, the fixed loans are higher and you end up paying about 7000 man for an initial 4000 man loan over 35 yrs, with monthly payments of about 150,000 and bonus payments of 350,000 twice a year. Then its worthless (not quite i know - but people won't want a 35 yr old house). And 4000 man yen would buy just a box, even in Hiroshima.


Renting is expensive, but for peace of mind, flexibility (in case hubbie is transferred) and not having to say goodbye to a chunk of our bonuses, I'm more inclined to remain a non home owner.


Good to hear your thoughts though!

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Sharon, what about these new steel and plastic houses? Maybe these will last better than the wood and rice-straw/mud/frog-shit houses and end up becoming investments rather than liabilities.


These new houses are tough - last year in our neighbourhood, an old style house burned down right next to a new style house. Although the new one was licked by the flames and bathed in the heat for two hours, it only got a little bit blackened and those panels were easily changed.

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The possibility of your husband being transferred one is a real pain. Even if his boss knows six months in advance, they may only tell him two weeks beforehand. What a way to treat people.


The "houses must appreciate" line of thinking is to some extent a British creation, thanks to factors like relative overpopulation, tight control over green belts, the rising divorce rate, and most probably the bad deal and overall lack of rights you get when renting. Houses don't appreciate anything like as fast in other countries, so many people must be buying them for the simple purpose of living in them, not for speculative reasons. Given the stresses involved in moving house, some British people might be better off just chilling where they are, rather than regularly "upgrading their investment".

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The point is, if the motgage repayments are less than rent (or renting it to someone else) it doesn't have to appreciate. It's making/saving you money, so what if it's worth half its initial value after 25 years, that's all profit, it's not cost you anything.

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Gotta agree with Ocean on this one. The biggest financial mistake I have made in my life is renting for years and years in the same city, when I could have owned a place and had mortgage payments about the same as my rent...except they would be tax-deductible and also I could have painted the walls any color I wanted without asking the landlord's permission.


Rented in L.A. for 6 years. I should have just bought a one-BR condo then sold it when I moved.


I doubt it's that easy in Japan, so let's just say that this post is all about me and my issues.

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What you are asking for is very expensive and large for Tokyo.


I think the rent on a place like that would be about $12,000 per month.


I am not joking, as others will confirm. There's an expat at my former company who lives in a 3BR place in a newish building near the ANA Hotel (Akasaka), and I heard that his rent is 1,600,000 yen per month. That's over $13,000 at current exchange rates.


If you give up "modern" and "living room" and go down a bedroom or two, you can probably find a nice place for about $4000 - $9000 per month.


And don't forget these inescapable costs, in addition to your first month's rent:


Agency fees (you have to use an agent):

1 month's rent


Key money (nonrefundable gift to landlord):

2 month's rent


Security Deposit (expect to lose half of it)

2 month's rent


Guarantor (a Japanese national who agrees in a binding contract to pay your rent/damages if you don't):

free if you can persuade a friend, but if you can't, then you have to pay a percentage of your rent to a Guarantor Agency.


Fire/Flood Insurance (yep YOU, not landlord, pay this!):

For the place you describe, about $500 for 2 years.



Depends if you do a lot of it yourself, but for the stuff to fill the space you describe, I would say about $1500.



Your move-in cost, including all the above but assuming you got an old lady Japanese friend to sign up as your "guarantor", is...




Keep in mind that this is all payable in CASH, UP FRONT.


How do you like them apples?


I once lived in a ratty 1BR apt. with kitchen and small spare room, in a "ritzy" area of Tokyo (Gaien-Mae), for about $1700 per month.


Friends from the US who visited remarked that the place resembled 3rd world housing. Bad sewer smells, poor drains, dirty greasy concrete with plasticky streaky yellowed wallpaper coating it, the range hood an oil\grease disaster with human hairs and dead roach skeletons stuck into it...moldy tiles, poor closet space, loud traffic noise and exhaust fumes in the spare room, bad ventilation (had to buy my own heater/air conditioner, for $1200--this is common), dingy brown indoor-outdoor carpet and old tatami mats in the bedroom. Right off the balcony was a giant utility pole transformer that hummed and buzzed and disrupted my cell phone signal, and probably my DNA too.


I was plenty comfy there, but really, it would not be for everyone. Especially in the quiet moments just before sleep sets in: "$1700...per month..for THIS?!"


Most of the other people in my law firm lived in places like the one you described except smaller, and the cheapest rent after mine was $5,000 per month.


Forget about it!!


You have to make certain concessions to live in Tokyo like a Japanese person, or else pay top dollar to live like ya did back home.


Still remember the night over beers when a guy I hadn't seen at the bar for months showed up tanned and happy, and said he'd been living in a 1-person airconditioned cabin on the beach in Thailand for about $90 per month.

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I live in a modern apartment in Osaka. Three bedrooms, counter kitchen, dining/living (17 tatami) large balcony with cappucino corner. Total inside area 86 m sq.

W/ parking $1,600 a month. (200,000 yen)

Key/deposit/agents fee etc. ~$6,500. (800,000)


Location, central.


Property prices aren't what they used to be in Osaka. Seems to be a glut on the market.


Osaka seems to be somewhat of an improvement on Tokyo.

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That sounds great! We'll be over directly for a cup of joe at the cappucino corner! Get out the blender and we'll make some frozen cocktails!


I've got work tonight so I am dreaming the good dreams.


My girlfriend's from Okayama and when I was down there last month I had a look at some ads for apartments and it was even cheaper than what you describe in Osaka. Almost the kind of prices you'd expect in Walled Lake, Michigan. For nice newish places with parking too!


My gal said you don't usually pay key money in Okayama, and the security deposit is normally just 1 month's rent. That's a big improvement over Tokyo.


Still, let's put this into perspective. It looks like your move-in was about 1,000,000 yen. That's over $8,200 cash just to get into the place. That's a fair piece of change to dish out in cash money.


If it were like that where I come from, half the population would be homeless, or still living with Mom and Dad. $8,000 is a long way toward a downpayment on a small home or luxury car...


After almost 7 years and over $140,000 paid as rent, I am in the process of packing up and moving back to the US for a breather.


So I guess I am thinking about these things.


As a working-visa holder I couldn't have bought a place here, but in retrospect, a tent in the park might have been just the thing.


And if I could go back in time to those childhood days when they said "And what do YOU want to be when you grow up?", the answer would be "A LANDLORD IN JAPAN".

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5LDK, mountain views 75,000 yen/m incl. parking, knocked down from 85,000 by our kindly estate agent when I went freelance (watch the man kick himself in the nuts...) I'm still thinking of buying though.


OK, so I do have to carry bathwater in buckets to the washing machine outside every morning, but hey, it's exercise. (Don't touch the front door too long in winter - your fingers might freeze stuck to it.)


My crayfish, snails, suzumushi, and kabutomushi live in better style than some of you city dwellers I should think.


BM, the image of you sitting on your roughed-up tatami amidst the carapaces of long-gone cockroaches wearing your brown one-piece with the faux-sheep collar kept me grinning through a very tiresome job...

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