Japan is distributing millions of abandoned houses, FREE!

07 December 2018 - 08:39 By Ntokozo Miya
Japanese people are flocking to the city in search of jobs, abandoning their rural homes.
Japanese people are flocking to the city in search of jobs, abandoning their rural homes.
Image: AFP/Toru Yamanaka

Japan is solving a unique housing problem by giving away, or cheaply selling, more than eight million countryside homes, but not everybody wants them.

The Evening Standard reported that the houses were left abandoned after young people went to big cities for jobs and the older generation died. 

Japanese authorities have long pondered how to address this housing problem and, in recent years, decided to simply give away the houses.

However, the thought of a free house is not as attractive as it sounds. This is because many of the houses are dilapidated, having been unattended for years.

Authorities are so keen to distribute the old houses that they are intensifying their efforts by adding an incentive for potential homeowners. The government plans to give new homeowners a subsidy to cover the cost of renovations.

Structures that are immediately habitable and require no repairs are sold at prices as low as $4,000 (R56,000).

In Japan, abandoned rural houses have stigmas attached to them. People who move in to the deserted homes are perceived as poor and looked down on.

The government wishes to fill abandoned houses with young families who will rejuvenate the population in affected areas.

Russia Today reports that property prices in Japanese cities are quite high, so many families are taking up the offer, but not at a fast enough rate to eradicate the ghost-house phenomenon.

Couples who are younger than 43 and have children of primary-school age are eligible for homes. Another catch is that families must agree never to move out of the houses.