Frequently Asked Questions

Who Runs This Site?

Hi, I’m Michael, founder of CheapHousesJapan.com. 

Since studying in Japan for a year in my university days, my dream has always been to buy a vacation house there. 

A few years ago, after many hundreds of hours of research, and multiple trips to Japan to look at houses, I bought my beautiful vacation house — for the grand sum of $31,650. I love visiting my house in Japan, and have spent months at a time there, even getting ‘stuck’ there for 6 months during the COVID crisis in 2020 (good thing I was working remotely!). 

My goal with this website and newsletter is to help YOU realize your dream of owning a vacation home in Japan — for cheap! 

Are you a Real Estate company? Do you get commissions?

No. I’m just a guy who’s spent way too many hours researching the housing market in Japan, and I own a vacation home there myself.

I don’t receive any sort of commission from the listings I recommend in the newsletter. 

I have a day job, so this site is a passion project for me. The $10 per month that I charge for the newsletter helps to support the hundreds of hours I put into this project. If you enjoy the instagram, please consider subscribing — it helps me spend more time on this project. 

How do you choose the properties for the newsletter?

When I look at a house listing, I generally ask myself three questions: 

1. Is it cheap? (ie. Is it under $100k? Under $50k?)

2. Is it excellent value?  (ie. What would the same house cost if I bought it in the US or Canada? Or even in another part of Japan)

3. Could I see myself living there, or would it make a good vacation home?

If I like the answers to those questions, it gets put on a short list to be considered for the newsletter. I try to narrow it down even further to show you only the best listings.

What do the Newsletters look like?

Here’s an example of one of the recent newsletters (#11):

Newsletter Sample

(the file takes a little while to load — please be patient)

Each photo links to the original listing, and there’s a google map link below with the exact location of each property. I also include articles with useful information for buying / owning property in Japan.

By subscribing, you get access to ALL previous newsletters and properties. 

I am not a resident of Japan. Can I buy a house there?

Yes, you can. There are no legal restrictions for foreigners buying property in Japan.

You can even buy a house while visiting on a tourist visa, which is what I did.

Further reading: Can A Foreigner Buy Property In Japan?

Do I get any residency or citizenship benefits from buying property in Japan?

No. Owning property in Japan does not entitle you to any special visas or residence options. There are visa options and routes that I discuss occasionally in the newsletter.

How long can I stay in my house each year if I’m not a resident?

You can stay in Japan up to 180 days per year as a tourist, maximum 90 days per stay.

My goal with this newsletter is to help YOU realize your dream of owning a vacation home in Japan — for cheap!  

How difficult is it to buy a vacation house in Japan?

The biggest difficulty is the language barrier. My Japanese level is almost N1 level on the JLPT, and even I found a lot of the documents and terms difficult but manageable. Working with an English-speaking property agent is a good option, but may slightly limit your options and raise your costs.

There are a few special documents you’ll need (including an affidavit from your embassy).

You’ll also need someone in Japan to sign a few documents for you and receive some documents by mail. This can be a friend (they have no liability for anything related to the house). I’ll be writing articles about the exact process in the coming months.

How long does it take to close on a house purchase in Japan?

Usually the whole process takes about 2-3 weeks — if you have all the proper documents ready, and don’t run into any issues. If you run into a snag, or don’t have the right documents, it could take much longer. I’ll be writing soon about which documents are necessary, so stay tuned.

Can I get a mortgage in Japan?

No. Unless you are a long-term resident of Japan and have a good job, it is very unlikely you will be approved.

How do I look after the house while I'm not there?

There are property management companies that can check on your house for you for a fee. They can also cut the grass, air out the house (this is important for some older Japanese homes) and run the water to clean out the pipes. If you can arrange this in Japanese, you’ll usually save a fair bit of money compared with English speaking property managers.

Can you help me buy a house in Japan?

If you have a simple question that I can answer easily, send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I love to help people find their dream vacation home in Japan!

If it’s more time-consuming and involved, send me an email with your specifics and I’ll give you a quotation.

Interested? Subscribe To Get The Best Deals Every Week!

Every week, I handpick 10 of the absolute best cheap listings in Japan from a wide variety of real estate sites. Almost everything I pick is under $100k USD (some as low as $15k!), and I’m focused on great value houses that have potential as your dream vacation home in Japan.