Home Truths, August 2013

CIMG2664Here’s this month’s Home Truths column in the Japan Times, which is about the Chiba New Town development project, where we happen to live. To clarify something that may not be apparent in the article, it’s a very nice place to live. As pointed out, the people who reside here enjoy a mix of urban convenience and unspoiled nature, though one of the points we tried to make is that if the New Town scheme had gone ahead as originally planned, it might have been more congested and less attractive, but it was never going to happen that way because of the area and the way it was developed. As it is, the urban sectors have plenty of well laid-out parks, the roads are all lined with wide sidewalks and bicycle lanes (which few people use since everyone drives), there are plenty of retail outlets offering a wide variety of very cheap merchandise, and just minutes’ walk from any station in the NT area you are in deep countryside: rice paddies surrounded by well-kept forests. And while the Hokuso Line is expensive, it is extremely convenient to both central Tokyo (one hour to Nihohbashi without transfer) and Narita Airport (20 minutes), and, probably because it is expensive, it’s never crowded.

Based on a rough survey of the land being developed now for residential homes, lots of approximately 200 square meters will be going for ¥10-15 million, or about ¥50,000 per square meter. So far, tracts being prepared are located 10 to 25 minutes by foot from Inzai Makinohara Station. We haven’t seen too much land being prepared near other stations. When the project started in the 70s, condominiums were promoted, and there are still some large condo complexes near the various stations in the NT area that have vacant units. One, called Doors near Inzai Makinohara Station (five minutes), is only about half filled. Apartments were first put on sale more than two years ago, and since then the developer has decreased the price at least twice, which probably upsets people who already bought. You can get a brand new condo of 70 square meters for only ¥19 million, but if you go a little farther from the station you can probably have a house built for less than ¥10 million more than that. UR, who will be selling most of these plots to real estate and housing companies, will want to get as much money as possible in order to pay down its debt, but with so much being developed at one time and demand unknown, it’s likely that those prices will come down in a short period of time. Chiba, of course, is the cheapest place to live in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and since its population decreases every year, it will become even cheaper just for that reason. Though the New Town has been a failure in terms of what a New Town is supposed to accomplish fiscally, Chiba New Town is a reasonably priced, attractive alternative to its counterparts in other places in the Kanto area. And now that we think about it, maybe that’s the reason Inzai was selected as the most comfortable city in Japan.


  1. John · August 8, 2013

    I have enjoyed your blog several times over the years. I realize now that we are neighbors! We live near Kohoku station and drive to Joyful Honda (next to your station) regularly. I have been following the construction of new roads in the middle of nowhere to the north of the train line, and now I understand what is going on.

    I’m a homeowner myself, so your information on land-owning in Japan is much appreciated.You give a lot of details that are not available to non-Japanese speakers.

    Many people who buy a house may think, “If circumstances change and I have to move, I can rent it out.” In fact, I’m doing this. Do you think future rentability is worth considering when you select a home to buy?


    • catforehead · August 13, 2013

      As far as renting goes, it all depends on how close the house is to the nearest station. That’s still the most important consideration in Japan. It’s difficult to talk about future prospects because of population shrinkage. On the one hand there may be more people willing to rent. On the other, prices for older properties may be so cheap it pays to buy.

      In our case the main consideration is not renting or even trying to get some money for a house we own in the future. Our concern is being able to unload it at all.


  2. Jay · August 9, 2013

    How ridiculous is it that they don’t bury the wires at these new subdivisions? The trees will never have a chance.


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