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With some eight million abandoned homes in Japanese suburbia, The Japan Times reports the country is giving away homes for free or very low prices. Fast Company’s Jesus Diaz says the government may even give you a subsidy to renovate one of the houses. Read more on the story from Diaz below.

What’s driving the government to give away homes? In part, it has to do with Japan’s aging population: According to the World Bank, the country’s population decreased by -0.2% in 2017 alone, while China and the U.S. slowly grew 0.6% and 0.7% respectively. There are simply fewer people in Japan than there once were–roughly 1.3 million fewer people than in 2010 by one count.

But there also other factors at play. In Japan, homes are typically demolished within 20 to 30 years, or risk becoming valueless because nobody wants to live in them. The reasons are many–The Japan Times points out that some may be associated with lonely deaths, murder, and suicides committed in the homes (some of these “stigmatized properties” are listed on a site called Oshimaland). In other cases, as The Guardian explains, the homes are valueless because of aging prefab construction, quickly developed to meet the post-World War II population boom and subsequent housing crisis. Sometimes, new building codes or a lack of maintenance is to blame–why bother, if you know your home will eventually be valueless either way?

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