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  • [G] In Tokyo, you can buy a brand new single detached home for about 300,000 US dollars

  • you might ask, how is this possible in the city that in 2016, Monocle declared the most liveable city

  • I know, i know, Monocle is a British lifestyle magazine

  • Not the UN Human Development Index, where Japan ranks 20th

  • But still, I feel safe in saying that Tokyo is a major world city

  • and I think a lot of people would be surprised that a new detached home can be in reach for the average family.

  • So I'm going to get to that housing story, but first I have to sidetrack a bit and to find a few things

  • This video will be about buying a new home in Tokyo, a city in Japan. It is important to distinguish this

  • because there is also the prefecture of Tokyo or Tokyo metropolis. A prefecture is like a state or province

  • Also equally important to distinguish is that we're not talking about the Tokyo metropolitan area,

  • which includes multiple prefectures and cities

  • and has over 30 million residents

  • Nope, that's not the Tokyo we're talking about either. We are talking about the 23 special wards of Tokyo

  • that contain roughly 9 million people

  • In English, the wards call themselves cities, but they're closer in terms of function to what a

  • borough of London would be.

  • In any case, the specific ward within Tokyo, I'll be looking at today

  • is Edogawa.

  • Sidenote, Edo is the old name of the city of Tokyo and Gawa means river.

  • So the ward name literally translates into Edo River.

  • Edogawa city is on the eastern edge of Tokyo

  • If you go any further and across the Edogawa River

  • you'll find yourself in the prefecture of Chiba.

  • Now you might be thinking, okay, so this place is on the outskirts of Tokyo

  • Well now not really. It's a 34 minute train ride from Mizue Station to Shinsen-Shinjuku Station

  • which is at the heart of the Shinjuku, the major government and business district in Tokyo.

  • It's a 14 minute train ride from Kasai Station to the literal heart of Tokyo, Nihombashi Station.

  • Where the Nihombashi Bridge is located.

  • Nihom means Japan and Bashi means bridge, so the name directly translates into Japan Bridge.

  • and it's the point from which all distances to the capital are measured.

  • My point with the map and distances is that depending on where you live in Edogawa

  • and where you want to go in Tokyo, you can be anywhere from a 15 to 16 minute train ride away

  • Even though Edogawa is on the eastern edge, you're still very close to the thick of things in Tokyo

  • not often the boonies

  • and yes you can go out to the boonies in the prefecture of Tokyo, like when I visited Okutama in the far west.

  • Even though we could easily get to more popular parts of Tokyo from Edogawa

  • Edogawa is still a populous area with all the amenities you could want

  • You don't need to own a car, besides commuting to work, you don't really need to leave the area if you don't want to.

  • To get an idea of the density of Edogawa, the population is roughly 700,000, all living in 49 square kilometres.

  • That's 13,750 people per square kilometre, to compare, The Bronx, a borough in New York

  • has 13,231 people per square kilometre. Although I've never been to The Bronx

  • and can't compare the feel of the neighbourhoods, on paper the density as well as the proximity

  • to major attractions are quite similar.

  • So what does the housing look like? Let's go on a quick tour

  • Right now we are looking at homes that are 30 to 50 years old

  • most of these homes no longer have any value, so if an owner were to sell

  • they'd most likely be bulldozed and rebuilt.

  • Accordingly, it's quite common to witness demolition scenes like this.

  • Once the homes are demolished, new ones are put in their place

  • and it's not uncommon for two houses to be built where there use to be one.

  • And here's what some recently built housing looks like

  • Some called these "pencil" homes, as they're tall and skinny

  • not all of them are pencil shaped though. In addition to single family homes

  • there are a couple main kinds of multi-family housing, these are called apartos, which come from the word apartment.

  • They're generally 2 or 3 storey units, built of wood and they would normally be rented by singles or couples.

  • When people talk about cheap Japanese housing with paper thin walls

  • I think this is usually the type of buildings they're referring to.

  • These are called mansions, as in mansion

  • and despite the grand name, they're apartment buildings made with reinforced concrete.

  • They're are generally 3 or more stories and the units will be bigger than the apartos and thus be better suited for families.

  • Some of these buildings will be for rental, while others will be condos that are owned by individuals.

  • Some mansions are also owned by the city and used for affordable rental housing

  • you often see many of these buildings clustered together.

  • A dead giveaway is that if you see numbers on the sides of the buildings.

  • You might find yourself wondering, is the housing really affordable for the average earner in Japan

  • and if so, why?

  • One thing you need to know is that in the past 25 years, Japan has grown in population by about 3 percent.

  • Whereas countries like the US and Canada have grown around 30 percent.

  • After the bubble burst in Japan in the early 90's, land prices never recovered to their formal peaks.

  • It's been expected that owning a house is not an investment but a depreciating asset.

  • In recent years, pricing has levelled out and even grown in Tokyo

  • but with the population of Tokyo set to decline in the future

  • property growth is far away from being certain.

  • Despite the precipitous drop in housing prices after the bubble

  • land is still expensive in Tokyo.

  • For example, this plot of land in Edogawa is roughly worth 3 thousand dollars a square metre

  • Where I used to live in Burnaby, a city in metro Vancouver

  • It's about 2 thousand 5 hundred a square metre, so fairly comparable.

  • However, since lot sizes in Burnaby can be from 5 to 10 times the size of those in Edogawa

  • the density in Burnaby is only 2,464 people per square kilometre.

  • Edogawa is 5 times as dense, which is a big reason why homes in Edogawa can be in reach for the average household.

  • If you want a single detached house where I used to live

  • it's go big or no home.

  • A tricky part when talking about affordable, is that you need to define exactly who it's affordable for.

  • The median annual household income in Japan is 37 thousand dollars

  • in comparison, it's 41 thousand in Canada and 44 thousand in the US.

  • By the way, this median stat means that half the families make more than that amount, and half make less.

  • Now that 37 thousand dollar number is for the whole of Japan. In Edogawa, it's 43 thousand. What can a family making that afford?

  • The maximum borrowable amount, with no down deposit, is about 300 thousand dollars

  • with 15 percent down, that number bumps up to 350 thousand dollars.

  • On the really cheap and small end for new single detached housing, you can get in for a bit over 200 thousand dollars.

  • However, I'd say a low end is more like 300 thousand, with mid-range going for about 400 thousand.

  • Custom and/or concrete housing will most likely be over 500 thousand.

  • The biggest factor in home pricing is almost always the land

  • which is about 70 percent of the price.

  • but of course that really depends on the location.

  • Let's talk about mortgages.

  • Beyond the sticker price, the real cost of a home includes the interest that you'll pay on a mortgage over the years.

  • Interest rates are always changing, but let me say that

  • you can rather easily get a variable rate of 1 percent in Japan right now.

  • The Japanese government also supports a FLAT 35 loan

  • which means you can lock in a fixed percentage for up to 35 years.

  • Depending on your down deposit, bank, and length of loan

  • the rate can be anywhere from 1 to 2 percent.

  • On a 300 thousand dollar house, a 1 percent interest rate for a 35 year mortgage is 850 dollars a month.

  • At at 3 percent rate, the monthly payment becomes eleven fifty a month, a 35 percent increase.

  • So yeah, interest rates make a huge difference.

  • Let's talk about zoning

  • and this is where I got to give props to Japan's zoning laws.

  • In Japan, the zoning laws for buildings

  • are prescribed at a national level

  • which all municipalities have to follow.

  • hey can make some exceptions, but by and large

  • they have to follow what the national government dictates.

  • And the zoning laws are rather straightforward.

  • There are 12 zones

  • The first one being a type of residental zone

  • each subsequent zone allows for more and bigger types of buildings.

  • It goes like this all the way up to industrial zones, for things like factories or gas refineries.

  • The magic in the zoning laws is that whatever is allowed in zone 1, is also allowed in the following zones.

  • With some exceptions

  • you can build residential housing anywhere.

  • You can also run small businesses

  • like a little café within your home, right in residential areas.

  • This is called mixed use, and this means that there's nothing stopping someone from opening

  • up a small shop in a residential neighbourhood.

  • So that's why you can generally walk to a convenient or grocery store

  • and get most of your daily needs without owning a car.

  • Once you get into the more dense zones, you see the mixed use come even more into play.

  • This is where you can have a big 20 story condominium

  • next to a single detached home.

  • Everything is fair game as long as you follow the rules on how big a portion of the lot the building can sit on,

  • how tall it can be, and how much light you can block.

  • Not only that, you can also end up being able to build on really small parcels of land.

  • The minimum legal street frontage for a house is 2 metres

  • enough width for a car to be parked on the block.

  • So while land is expensive in Tokyo the ability

  • to purchase small parcels of land makes it possible for the middle class to own a home

  • whether it be a condo or single detached house.

  • From walking around the neighbourhood and seeing all the new starts

  • the minimum parcel of land for a 3 or 4 LDK seems to be around 60 square meters

  • or about 650 square feet.

  • After scanning through the pile of new home flyers I picked up

  • I'd say the average is about one-third more than that in size.

  • So think 80 square metres, or about 860 square feet.

  • Something interesting about the plots of land

  • is that since they are not necessarily perfect square or rectangles

  • the amount of usable space depends on the shape.

  • In that way, a 75 square metre lot may be as practically useful as a 60 square metre one

  • and you'll see lots of dissimilar sizes right next to each other priced the same.

  • The Financial Times talks about why

  • Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices.

  • Takahiko Noguchi, head of planning

  • section in Minato Ward explains why.

  • "There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says.

  • People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

  • Right, so provided you follow zoning regulations, you're A-OK to build.

  • Woah, woah, woah! What's with the 80's music. I was thinking the same thing myself.

  • I mean, I was born in the 80's, maybe it's my subconscious trying to bring me back to a time

  • a time where my father in his 20's could afford a new home

  • and support the entire family on his wage alone. Ah, the good old days!

  • But back on topic. I'm sure you must be wondering

  • Is Tokyo or Japan really a good place to live?

  • And maybe you're thinking

  • The houses you showed didn't even have yards and aren't they small and cramped?

  • Also, you may have heard that in Japan, homes only last 30 years and there are tons of abandoned buildings!

  • Yeah, yeah, I hear ya.

  • I'm making videos that talk about those topics

  • and also have some new home tours to show you, hang tight.

  • In the meantime, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section.

  • And before I forget, I want to give a shout out to all those who support these mini-docs through Patreon.

  • Thank you so much!

  • As always, thanks for watching and will catch you on the flipside.

[G] In Tokyo, you can buy a brand new single detached home for about 300,000 US dollars

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東京の平均的な家庭が新築住宅を購入するには (How an Average Family in Tokyo Can Buy a New Home)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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