Buying property in Japan as an expat

Buying property in Japan as an expat

Buying property in Japan as an expat

Buying an expat property in Japan has been a dream for many, but is now relatively straightforward.

Until fairly recently, Japan was infamous for being a serious challenge for incoming expats, not just for the language but also due to the Japanese mistrust of foreigners. Nowadays, it’s very different due to this fascinating country’s opening up to the world and its challenges. Also a factor in the acceptance of ‘gaijin’ – foreigners – is the country’s long-term demographic issues in which its citizens are getting older and its population totals are falling.

Nowadays, Japan has loosened its visa requirements, allowed expats to buy property and is generally far more welcoming than in earlier times due to its belated acceptance of globalisation. Nowadays, it’s a popular Asian location for expat property purchase, second only to Thailand and especially attractive for wealthy Chinese buyers. To some extent, Japan’s boom in tourism is partially responsible for its increasing number of expat property purchases, with buying a home a relatively safe, stable investment provided the rules are adhered to.

One important advantage is that both freehold properties and the land on which they stand can be purchased, unlike in Thailand where land must be leased but can never be sold to anyone who’s not a Thai citizen. Real estate ownership is the same for expats as it is for nationals, whether it’s a Tokyo apartment or a traditional wooden house in Kyoto. From a legal stance, this is extremely important as it doesn’t discriminate between Japanese citizens and expatriates.

Buying for investment purposes is also possible, with the major cities including Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Sapporo as well as Tokyo the best bet for satisfactory returns. Appreciation isn’t as fast as in many Western countries, but does reward those in it for the longer term. For those looking for homes in local communities, the edges of these massive cities are a good place to start and another interesting location is the adjacent city of Yokohama. In Tokyo itself, Edogawa ward is popular with expatriate professionals and is just 20 minutes from central Tokyo, and property prices in Shinagawa ward are half those in upscale Shibuya and Chiyoda.

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