Two small towns offering free homes to attract new residents

Tsuwano Shimane
Tsuwano Town, Shimane Prefecture

In an effort to attract young families from outside the area, two small towns are offering free house and land packages.

Miyagi Prefecture

The town of Shichikashuku in Miyagi Prefecture will provide a ‘rent-to-own’ house to qualifying residents. After renting the home for 20 years, the tenants will receive the house and land for free.

The town plans to construct 8 homes over the next 4 years. The homes will have three bedrooms, and a total floor area of 125 sqm (1,345 sqft). Each home is expected to cost approximately 20 million Yen to build.  They will be rented out for 35,000 Yen a month.

Shichikashuku Town, Miyagi Prefecture

To qualify, potential residents must be a married couple under the age of 40, with child/children below middle-school age. In addition to renting the house for 20 years, they must also actively participate in local town activities. The first round of applications was open until February 3, with successful applicants chosen based on their submitted paperwork and interviews.

Shichikashuku has a population of 1,495 people, down from 5,536 in 1950. The town has the highest number of elderly residents in the prefecture, with 45% of the population aged over 65. Back in 2005 the town was the least populated town in the prefecture.

The town has a post office, bank branch, elementary and middle school.

Shimane Prefecture

Tsuwano Town in Shimane Prefecture have been offering free houses and land to new residents. Residents who are selected for the program will be given the house and land for free after renting it for 25 years.

The town received 35 applications for the five homes on offer. Three of the applicants were from the Kanto and Kansai areas, while 14 were from within the prefecture. Five families were selected based on their commitment to the town and desire to get involved in the community. The town plans to provide an additional 25 homes over the next five years.

Shimane Prefecture has been suffering from a declining population. Tsuwano saw the steepest decline in population in the prefecture between 2005 and 2010. This record was previously held by Misato Town, but that town managed to improve their population statistics by offering a similar housing re-location system to entice new residents.

Tsuwano had 7,721 residents as of December 2014. 90% of the town area is forest. The former castle town is known as a ‘little Kyoto’.

The Kahoku Shinposha, January 4, 2015.
Suumo Journal, January 26, 2015.