Archive for January, 2010

Assisted living: You can’t take it with you

Friday, January 8th, 2010

If you can read the fine print then you can't move in

If you can read the fine print then you can’t move in

Advertorial supplements are pretty common these days in newspapers, and often they focus on one subject. A topic I see a lot lately is assisted living facilities for seniors, sometimes two or three times month. Despite Japan’s storied respect for the aged, old age homes, derisively referred to as rojin homu, were never very popular until the last decade when the kaigo hoken (nursing care insurance) system was enacted, thus directly and indirectly providing government assistance for start-up businesses. With the economy lagging and the population aging faster than you can say “hip replacement surgery,” assistant living facilities have become a growth business, though if you take a look at the ads in the supplements it’s easy to get the feeling that all old people in Japan are rich.

The main sticking point is the “moving in fee” (nyukyohiyo), which tends to run anwhere from ¥50 to 90 million; in other words, the price of an expensive house or condominium. These fees are “deposits” to a certain extent. Usually about 10 percent are automatically deducted when a contract is signed, and then over the next 10  years it is treated like depreciation. If you “leave” the facility before the 10 years elapses an appropriate portion of the deposit is returned to you or our heirs depending on how long you have stayed. Of course, “leaving” in most cases means “dying,” so you get the idea. On top of that, the “tenant” pays a substantial monthly rent for his or her unit, which can be a simple room or a full apartment with kitchen. Then there are lots of add-ons, the main one being meals, but, of course, with assisted living there tend to be different grades of “care.” That’s where the real money comes in. One’s monthly rent can double or triple depending on one’s physical condition.

Continue reading about assisted living →

Checking out affordable resort condos in Chiba

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The opposite view of resort condos from Onjuku Beach

The opposite view of resort condos from Onjuku Beach

Some of the surest bargains on the real-estate market are so-called besso manshon (resort condos). When most people in Tokyo think of second homes or weekend homes, they think of Karuizawa or the Izu Peninsula or maybe the five lakes area around Mount Fuji, where prices tend to be uniformly expensive. The thing is, second homes almost anywhere else are quite affordable, and I often check, which is run by Recruit, to see what’s available, and one of the most intriguing areas is actually the Boso peninsula, meaning Chiba Prefecture. A few weeks ago on the site I found 73 properties on the Boso Peninsula that were priced at less than 5 million. Though Chiba has a reputation as a bedroom region it’s got lots of hills and forests and Kujukuri sea coast is cleaner and less crowded than the stretch of beach that leads from Shonan in Kanagawa to the tip of Izu. In fact, diehard surfers say Kujukuri has the best waves on the Pacific side of Honshu. More significantly, it’s cooler than Tokyo in the summer and warmer in the winter, sometimes by as much as three degrees.

Consequently, there are a lot of second homes and resort condos on sale in seaside towns like Onjuku and Katsuura for as little as ¥2 million  for about 40 sq. meters. These two resort towns are quaint but large enough to supply all the amenities you’d want in walking distance to wherever you happen to live. Many of the resort condos are close to the main train stations, and both towns are less than 90 minutes from central Tokyo by express. If you don’t have a car this is important, since most second homes tend to be far from central business area and train lines.

Continue reading about buying second homes →


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