Tsuwano_street_002

As you may have heard, the population of Japan is getting older and smaller. While other (smarter) people have debated the problems and complexities of this issue, we do know one thing: It’s left a lot of prefectures without many young people. Some places are celebrating when the community has even a single wedding, but Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture thinks they’ve hit upon an idea for injecting some new, young blood into their town. They’re giving houses away for (kind of) free! Of course, there are a few stipulations…

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a houses being handed off without payment in Japan, but this time it turns out there’s more than one house being given away! In fact, five lucky families were chosen to move to rural towns in Shimane and Hyogo Prefectures to spend the rest of their lives living in the country.

Well, maybe not the entire rest of their lives, but it will certainly be quite a while. You see, to get ownership of these free homes, people will have to live in them for 25 years. And not rent-free either, though the 30,000 yen a month (about US$250) isn’t bad for a brand new house. And after 25 years, or about nine million yen in rent (roughly $74,000), they’ll own the buildings and the land they stand on. Tsuwano is also offering free repairs for any work that needs to be done and will help potential new residents find jobs. For example, one family has decided to move from Tokyo to Shimane, and the father’s new town has set him up with a job with a forestry company.

▼ There certainly are a lot of trees, after all!

While only five families were selected from the 17 who applied for this round, another 20 houses are planned to be built by 2018, so there’s still plenty of time to apply for the next batch. The houses are all approximately 94 square meters (roughly 1,011 square feet) and sit on relatively large plots of land. We imagine that’s a big draw for Japanese urbanites who may never have had a yard for their kids to play in!

If you’re thinking this sounds like a pretty sweet deal and you want to apply for the next round, bear in mind that they’re looking for families with children, and the adults must be 40 years old or younger. You’ll also probably need to be willing to ingrain yourself in the community — we doubt they want any weirdos messing up their nice town. And, of course, you’ll have to live in the town for 25 years to get ownership of the house!

While it’s certainly a big move for families, and an expensive proposition for the local communities building the houses, it’s not a bad idea. With the dwindling number of young people, there’s not much else they can do to ensure there’re enough people to keep the prefecture running. And if you love the great outdoors, Shimane has a lot to offer!

But if something a bit more island-like is what you’re looking for, be sure to check out Mishima. They’ll even give you a cow, and that’s just udderly crazy!

Sources: Sankei Biz, Copy Paste Johou-kyoku
Image: Wikipedia (opqr)