Is it possible to obtain a residence permit in Japan by buying a property?

The possibility of buying a house in Japan at a very good price and living in the middle of bucolic rice fields while working online and gradually renovating the house is a pleasant concept… But can a foreigner buy a house in Japan and, if so, obtain resident status?

As of 2019, there were approximately 2.93 million registered expatriates living in Japan, representing approximately 2.3% of the total population and growing. The number of expatriates investing in property is increasing, with some taking advantage of the government’s new housing incentive schemes, which are designed to encourage investment and encourage families to move out of large cities such as Tokyo and into rural areas in particular.

Buying a property does not automatically entitle you to a residence visa: this is unlike many countries, such as Spain, where you can obtain a residence visa when you buy a house or a plot of land under the Golden Visa scheme – provided the property investment is at least €500,000. This is not the case in Japan: buying a house does not entitle you to a residence visa.

Buying a house in Japan will NOT help you obtain a visa or a permanent residence status: the residence procedure is the same whether you own your own home or not. Even if you don’t have a residence permit, it is possible to buy property in Japan (even on a tourist visa), but you will be limited by the type of visa you can obtain. One way is to visit Japan frequently or for long periods on a tourist visa: the official limit is 180 days per calendar year.

Spending half the year in Japan could be a wise choice for freelancers, digital nomads or people who want to retire and spend a large part of the year in the Land of the Rising Sun.

However, there are many ways to legally live in Japan as a foreigner, including student visas, working holiday visas, NGO volunteer visas, ordinary work visas and visas for marriage to a Japanese citizen or resident. One of the best websites for explaining how to get a visa in Japan as a foreigner is the blog by Marina González at Breathing Tokyo. You can find all the information you need on this link.