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Why is housing cheap in Japan?


Japan is known for its high living costs, but one aspect that surprisingly bucks this trend is the cost of housing. Compared to other developed countries, Japan’s housing prices are significantly lower. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon.

Population Decline

One of the main reasons why housing is cheap in Japan is due to a declining population. With fewer people, there is less demand for housing, leading to lower prices. This trend is especially prevalent in rural areas where the population has been declining for decades.

Japanese Snack Box

Small Living Spaces

Another factor that contributes to the low cost of housing in Japan is the small living spaces. Japanese apartments and houses are typically much smaller than those in other countries, which makes them more affordable. The average size of a Japanese apartment is around 60 square meters, while in the United States, it’s around 100 square meters.

Building Regulations

Japan has strict building regulations that require buildings to be earthquake-resistant and energy-efficient. While these regulations may increase the initial cost of construction, they also lead to lower maintenance costs and lower utility bills over time. This, in turn, makes housing more affordable.

Low Property Taxes

Property taxes in Japan are relatively low compared to other countries. This means that homeowners pay less money to own their homes, which translates into lower prices for buyers.

Recycling System

Japan has an excellent recycling system that allows for the efficient disposal of waste materials. This system reduces the cost of garbage disposal for homeowners and landlords, which can help keep housing prices low.

Efficient Public Transportation

Japan’s public transportation system is one of the best in the world. This means that people can live further away from their workplaces without having to worry about long commutes or high transportation costs. This opens up more affordable housing options outside of major cities.

Low Mortgage Rates

The Bank of Japan has kept interest rates low for many years, which has led to low mortgage rates for homebuyers. This makes it easier for people to buy homes and contributes to the overall affordability of housing in Japan.

The Aging Population

As Japan’s population continues to age, more homes are becoming available on the market due to elderly citizens passing away or moving into assisted living facilities. This leads to a surplus of available homes and lowers prices.

Low Crime Rates

Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, which means that people feel safer living in their homes and neighborhoods. This also leads to lower insurance premiums and overall lower costs associated with homeownership.

Land Prices

While land prices in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are high, they are relatively low in other parts of Japan. This makes it easier for developers to build new homes and lowers prices for buyers.

Cultural Attitudes Toward Housing

Finally, cultural attitudes toward housing play a role in keeping prices low. In Japan, owning a home is not seen as a status symbol or a way to build wealth like it is in other countries. Instead, it’s viewed as a place to live comfortably and raise a family. This attitude leads to less competition among buyers and keeps prices affordable.


In conclusion, there are many factors that contribute to the low cost of housing in Japan. From strict building regulations and efficient public transportation to an aging population and cultural attitudes toward homeownership, these factors all work together to create an affordable housing market for Japanese citizens.

Why is housing affordable in Japan?

The affordable housing in Tokyo is a result of the implementation of the Japanese New City Planning Law in 1968. This law established 12 standardized land-use zones throughout Japan, allowing for the construction of apartments, restaurants, and schools in all but two of them.

Why is Tokyo housing so cheap?

In 2002, the Urban Renaissance Law was relaxed, allowing for taller apartment buildings to be constructed. This was a response to the high land prices in Tokyo, and increasing the height of buildings helped to make housing more affordable. This approach has been successful, and Tokyo remains relatively affordable despite its large size and urban environment.

Is it cheaper to live in Japan or America?

In the US, the cost per square foot to purchase a home in the city center is approximately $335, while in Japan it is around $760, resulting in a 57% increase. Despite this, overall housing prices in Japan are typically lower than those in the US, particularly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Is Japan real estate cheap?

Owning a vacation home in Japan is a wise choice for several reasons, including the affordable cost of buying a house, low property taxes, and the fact that Japan is a beautiful destination to spend your holiday. Refer to the FAQ section for further details.

Why is homelessness so low in Japan?

Japan has a remarkably low homeless population compared to other countries. There are multiple factors that contribute to homelessness, such as drug addiction, mental health issues, access to housing, education, and government policies. Japan’s strict laws on drugs, mental health services, and housing options all play a role in keeping their homeless population low. This was reported on September 17, 2021.

Why is Japan’s poverty rate so high?

Many factors have been linked to individuals who are considered the working poor, such as households headed by a single parent, inadequacies within the public assistance system, unpredictable employment, and the minimum wage not providing enough income for basic necessities.

Government Policies

The Japanese government has implemented policies to encourage homeownership and make it more accessible to low-income families. For example, the government offers subsidies and tax breaks for first-time homebuyers. Additionally, there are programs that offer low-interest loans to families who are struggling to afford a home.

Minimalist Lifestyle

Another cultural factor that contributes to the lower cost of housing in Japan is the minimalist lifestyle. Many Japanese people place a higher value on simplicity and functionality over luxury and excess. This means that people are content with smaller living spaces and fewer possessions, which lowers the demand for larger, more expensive homes.

Efficient Construction Techniques

Japan has developed innovative construction techniques that allow for faster, more efficient building of homes. For example, pre-fab homes can be constructed off-site and brought to the building location for quick assembly. This saves on labor costs and materials, which can lead to lower housing prices.

High-Quality Materials

Although Japan’s housing prices are low, the quality of the materials used in construction is high. Japanese builders use high-quality materials such as concrete, steel, and wood, which makes homes durable and long-lasting. This means that homeowners can save money on maintenance costs over time.

Competition Among Builders

Competition among builders is another reason why housing is affordable in Japan. With so many construction companies competing for business, builders must keep their prices low to remain competitive. This benefits buyers by offering lower prices and better quality homes.

Low Labor Costs

Labor costs in Japan are relatively low compared to other developed countries. This is due in part to a surplus of skilled laborers in the construction industry. Lower labor costs translate into lower housing costs for buyers.

Sustainable Housing Practices

Many Japanese builders incorporate sustainable practices into their construction methods. These practices include using environmentally friendly materials, installing solar panels, and using rainwater harvesting systems. Sustainable practices not only benefit the environment but also help homeowners save money on utility bills.


Overall, there are many reasons why housing in Japan is affordable compared to other developed countries. From efficient public transportation and strict building regulations to cultural attitudes toward homeownership and sustainable housing practices, these factors all contribute to a thriving and accessible housing market for Japanese citizens.

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