If one is moving to Japan even for a period longer than a year, buying a house may be the better option instead of renting. This is because it’s easy to bring in funds to Japan which means you can have enough to invest in real estate. At the same time, under Japanese law, a foreigner is allowed to bring out foreign currency (other than the Yen) as long it does not exceed the amount brought in.
Real estate in Japan was a slump after the March 2011 earthquake but the recovery has been relatively on track. Still, it is a buyer’s market which means there is opportunity to make a tidy profit now that the real estate market is still flexible.
In addition, by investing in buying Japanese real estate, you don’t see your money go down the drain like with renting. The only impediment to this would be availability of sufficient funds to buy a house, but one does not have to buy a mansion either. In fact, in Japan the “mansions” that are newly built tend to depreciate faster after the first year and the value levels off to a more logical price. Thus, if you plan to buy something, it would be a good idea to look at all available property under your budget.
Trying to find this piece of property on your own or through the internet may not be best idea. Many Japanese property owners are used to and prefer dealing with real estate companies. There are many brokers in Japan, and they are in a better position to negotiate for you whether or not they are bilingual.
You’d also be surprised that once you start going around major cities in Japan, the streets either have no names or have names you won’t be able to read or remember. The very least you can do on your own is find a guide or city street map to direct you but the likelihood of getting lost is very real.
Going back to buying the house instead of renting, the advantages make it worth considering. Not only do you increase your chances of adding income, you also get privacy, no neighbors a thin wall away, and you have full control over the property. If you select the house in a good district where foreigners tend to converge, then unloading in a few years will be relatively easy. Finally, in a few years real estate in Japan is expected to jump back to the high value it was before the earthquake.