According to a recent survey, NZ has the second most highest property prices in terms of income in the world after Canada. Also noteworthy is the fact that Japan has the lowest housing prices in comparison to income. I encourage expatriates and Japanese people to look at the foreclosed property market because houses can be bought very cheaply through this route. I bought a 5br dormitory just 1hr train from Tokyo City Central in 2004 for just $US28,000. Prices have gone no where since. Its particularly cheap in rural areas; but being a populated island archipelago, its hard to get far from a major city....but you would be surprised how much scenic nature this country has, and how easy it is to explore by cheap train services. The yields are exceptionally good, and there is no better way to buy than via the foreclosed route because of the lack of competition as well as the security of dealing with the Japanese court system. They even help you remove any 'problem' owners....but anyway most Japanese are so polite, they might even help you move out. Mine was lovely...gave me some advice...to clean our the pine needles from the roof guttering....since his home had a little water damage. Perceptions of people wanting to cause injury to you are over-stated. Consider that most distressed buyers are happy to stay in these houses just to get low rent. i.e. The banks want to claw back equity....but in fact the owners simply want to retain the cheap rent since Japan has for the last decade had record low interest rates....even lower than enjoyed by the rest of the world. I therefore recommend buying property in Japan because its such a pleasant place to live and to cheap to buy. The most expensive aspects of Japan are the utility and eating-out expenses, but you'd be surprised how reasonable it is to buy:
1. Takeaway - good quality for $5-8
2. Train - $3-4 even for outer city
3. My stepbrother is getting Wimax internet for $10/month under a special deal
4. Land rates - I pay $US1500 in NZ, but its just $300 in Japan, and its so safe I don't even bother insuring my place.
5. Japan Rail Pass allows you to travel around Japan for $300-350 for a week unlimited, including on Shinkansen.
6. Beers are Y600, but you can get as low as Y300 in Roppongi and drinking at home is really cheap.
I am simply blown away by Japan because there is simply no better place to live. I will be returning there in a few years I suspect, as my partner's brother lives there. My focus is however on work at the moment. Learn more about Japan foreclosed property!