Houses in Japan offered for free and at cheap value are divided into 2 categories: the free akiya (空き家) and okutama or government-owned establishments schemes.
Akiya or “vacant homes” in Japan is the name for a place of residence being uninhabited and forgotten, just like ghost town. Clusters of akiya can be found beyond the inner suburban communities of Japan that were remained untouched for decades.
In a 2013 government report claimed over eight million properties across Japan were unoccupied where the quarter of these residences have been abandoned indefinitely, and are owned by landlords with no intention of selling or renting it.
Abandonment of Akiya have many reasons behind. Firstly, is that there are more people aged between 65-74 (6.6% of the population) than those aged between 0-14 (6.5%) and as elderly residents die, there were not enough youngsters to fill the place.
Secondly, people of the residence are very superstitious, so when something happened like suicide, murder and etc. in the properties, it would be difficult to cut the stigma to sell or rent it to others.
The superstition in Japan is so strong that there’s a site called Oshimaland, where lists of stigmatised properties are stored and what happened there for people to avoid.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a cheap house Okutama’s free house programme is also in Japan that requires far less work yet still close to the city.
Okutama is a town located in the western corner of the greater Tokyo Metropolis a tidy one hour and 45 minutes from central Tokyo by train, looking to attract young families with their new very cheap rent to own housing scheme.
According to REthink Tokyo, the program outline is that the tenants must pay a monthly rent of 50,000 yen (about USD 440) where after 22 years, the house can now be owned, for the total of $116,160, without mortgage and loans.
Japan, as they continue to battle a rapidly growing ageing population, and as cities deal with densely populated challenges, it’s fair to assume similar cities will take the Okutama route to encourage community building to withstand the generation yo come.