Most affordable places to buy an apartment in Japan: 2019 Ranking by Prefecture

Home affordability decreased for the average income earner in Japan this year. This is according to a data released by Tokyo Kantei, which shows that the nationwide income multiple (compared to the average price of a home) increased in 2019. As can be expected, major urban centers like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kyoto are the least affordable places to buy a home in Japan, while the most affordable are in rural prefectures.

The “income multiple” is the ratio of the average price of a home to the average annual income. The lower the multiple, the more affordable it is for the average income-earner to buy a home. The increase in the income multiple last year means that it was less affordable for the average worker to buy a home than in 2018.

In 2019, the national “income multiple” was 8.09 for a newly built apartment, which means that the average price of a new apartment nationwide was on average 8.09 times the average annual income.

Based on Tokyo Kantei data, nationwide, the average annual salary in 2019 was ¥4.48 million ($41,000) and the average price of a new 70-sqm apartment was ¥36.23 million yen ($332,000). In 2018, the national income multiple was 7.81.

In 2019, the income multiple increased in 27 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Most and Least Affordable

The three most affordable prefectures to buy a new apartment this year were (income multiple in parentheses):

  1. Kagawa (5.44)
  2. Yamaguchi (5.64)
  3. Nagano (5.90)

The three least affordable prefectures to buy a home were (income multiple in parentheses).

  1. Tokyo (13.3)
  2. Kyoto (11.95)
  3. Kanagawa (11.10)

A Median Multiple Above 4.1 Means Housing is “Seriously Unaffordable”

The Median Multiple has been recommended by the World Bank and the United Nations to compare affordability in urban housing markets across countries.

It is calculated by dividing the median house price in a given market by gross annual median household income.

Note that this methodology differs from Tokyo Kantei’s, which uses average prices and incomes, but it is still instructive to compare the two multiples to get a general idea of just how affordable or unaffordable houses are in Japan.

According to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey,

— A Median Multiple of 5.1 and over indicates a market that is “severely unaffordable”

— A Median Multiple of 4.1 to 5.0 indicates a market that is “seriously unaffordable”

— A Median Multiple of 3.1 to 4.0 indicates a market that is “moderately unaffordable”

— A Median Multiple of 3.0 and under indicate a market that is “affordable”

Based on the Median Multiple method, buying a new apartment was “seriously unaffordable” in 45 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, for which there was sufficient data to calculate a multiple. Not enough data was available for Akita and Fukui prefectures.

Affordability Ranking by Prefecture

Please see the charts below for details by prefecture.

FAQs About Buying Property in Japan

Can a foreigner buy property in Japan?

Yes. You can buy property in Japan regardless of your nationality or country of origin. There are also no residency requirements for buying real estate in Japan. Securing financing as a resident foreigner is more complicated. For info on financing, please see “Basic Requirements for Getting a Mortgage as a Foreigner in Japan“.

How do I get a property loan as a foreigner in Japan?

Please see this article for information on: Getting a property loan as a foreigner in Japan

What is the process for buying a property in Japan?

Please see our step-by-step guide: Guide to Property in Japan

See how much you can borrow and your monthly payments in yen: Yen Mortgage Loan Calculator

For information about purchase and brokerage fees: Breakdown of real estate purchase fees and taxes in Japan

Need to know: Earthquake building codes and technology in Japan

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Seminars on Buying Property in Japan

Please see our seminar page for a current list of seminars on: how to buy a home in Japaninvesting in Japanese real estate for beginnershow to apply for permanent residency in Japanhow to sell property in Japan, and much more.

Lead photo: Fields of green tea, Kagawa Prefecture. iStock photo