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Buying A House In Japan From Abroad

Buying A House In Japan From Abroad: An Interview with Coline

Coline bought a house in Japan all from her home at France. I interviewed her about the process and her experience in it. She generously shared with us her journey and her future plans for the property.

*All the photos on this page are of the house Coline bought and the surroundings.

Would you mind quickly introducing yourself to our readers? How long have you lived in Japan and what brought you there originally?

Coline: My name is Coline, I am 24 years old (23 when I found my dream house) and I am a photographer currently living in France. The first time I came in Japan was from studies and it was from September 2014 to July 2015 in Kanagawa. After that I came back twice for vacations in Tokyo and a third time in 2017 for an internship. From there I knew I wanted to come back and actually experience life in the Japanese countryside.
 

Where is your house? Why did you choose that location?

Coline: My house is in Uda city, Nara prefecture. And I choose the house before choosing the location actually. I had a vague idea of the regions I didn’t want to go and that’s all. When I first saw the house online I googled the address and it as nicely placed according to my criteria. Close enough to a train station or bus station, at less than 2h from a big airport and in a district that has the possibility to do “chiliokoshi”.

 

“I choose the house before choosing the location actually”

What was the most difficult thing about the buying process? Was there anything surprising?

Coline: For me the overall buying process was fluid and fast, at least comparing to the process of buying a house in France. Talking about France, I am still here at the moment and I haven’t seen my house in real life yet! So for the buying process I had to work with a intermediary. On the Japanese side it went pretty well. But on the French side… when I had to sign the contract the French post office manage to lose the package. So the Japanese agency staff had to edit a new contract and make the owner sign again and send it through DHL so it wouldn’t get lost again. That was a big waste of time and a big embarrassment. 

And second annoying point was a problem from my French bank… that’s anecdotical, but I lost 2 to 3 weeks dealing with my bank even though I had all the money and didn’t have to take a loan. 

 

Approximately how much did you purchase your house for? Were there any unexpected costs?

Coline: The initial price of the house was 4 600 000¥ and I negotiate it to 3 900 000¥ and I had extra fees for my intermediary, shipping for the documents and extra bank fees. I had plan to do the money transfer at a time when the € was quite stable but due to the delay my bank took, the transfer was done at the worst time possible and I had approximately +2 000€ of difference. Wasn’t to happy about that. But overall, counting all expenses I had around 37 000€ spent so far. 

“In the long term I would like to remodel the garden and transform it into a real Japanese garden…”

What renovations did you do? How long did the whole renovation process take and how much did it cost? Were there any unexpected costs?

Coline: So as mentioned before I haven’t visited the house yet but I already know what must be done next year to make the house livable. Fixing the roof leaks, updating the electric system and do the connection to the sewage system. After that there is a lot of work to do for the kitchens and bathrooms, this aspect will be more precise as soon as I can visit the house. 

The final part of the renovation will be about the traditional elements, tatamis, doors and wooden structure. I hope all this will cost between 50 000€ to 100 000€. I already have a few quotations done by the previous owners, that’s what I based my budget estimations on. I also plan to do a lot of things myself. 

In the long term I would like to remodel the garden and transform it into a real Japanese garden… This will depend on what left of the budget. 

“I want to create videos because … most useful content I found was in English. So with my videos I hope to answer a few big questions amongst the French community that is thinking of moving to Japan. “

Anything else that you’d like to share with Cheap Houses Japan readers?

Coline: For the moment I am still planning my trip, I have my visa appointment on July the 5 actually. So I haven’t start anything big besides my Instagram @coconokominka the Youtube channel is still in the process. 

I want to create videos because personally when I searched for information about old kominka or the process of buying a house in Japan, most useful content I found was in English. So with my videos I hope to answer a few big questions amongst the French community that is thinking of moving to Japan. 

Also to help me visualise the house better even though I haven’t seen it yet, I designed a 3D SketchUp model. It’s a great tool to envision the house and start planning things. Thanks to this experience I gained a lot of knowledge on that software so in the future I hope to professionally be able to propose this service. It can help people to visualise what they want and clear their ideals before they go looking for an architect. 

I am looking forward discovering my house in real life and sharing it on Instagram, so thanks in advance for visiting my page!

Coline's House Photo Gallery

A big thank you to Coline for sharing her story here. What do you think? Would you buy a house like hers?

If you need inspiration to find your dream vacation house in Japan, follow Cheap Houses Japan on Instagram.

Looking for more advice about buying a house in Japan? Read this article I wrote: 

10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying A House in Japan