How much is it costing us to be the proud owners of the house we bought for less than US$9,500?

We realize it’s been a while since we’ve given you a substantial update on the SoraHouse, the ridiculously cheap Japanese countryside house we bought for just 1 million yen (US$9,100 yen at the time of purchase). That’s because between its up-in-the-mountains location and ongoing renovations, it’s not the most pleasant place to spend the colder months of the year.

With the winter chill now completely gone, though, we’re looking forward to heading back up to the SoraHouse and continuing the various projects necessary to make it a home. But before we’ve had a chance to feel the summer sun warming us, a chill run down our spine when our annual property tax bill arrived.

Sure, it’s great to own your own house, because it means you have the freedom to set up an outdoor bathing spot, gather chestnuts, or put 44 bubble blowing machines on your roof. But the drawback to being a homeowner is that you’ve got to pay taxes, even if you spend several months of the year away from the place, like we do with the SoraHouse in the winter.

Considering that the main reason we bought the SoraHouse is because of how cheap it was, accruing tax expenses are kind of contrary to its spirit. Our Japanese-language editor, Go Hatori, had heard that the average property taxes in Japan are around 100,000 to 150,000 yen, and he was worried that bills that high might convince our boss, Yoshio, to shut the SoraHouse project down.

So it was with a tremble in his hand that Go handed the envelope with the property tax bill inside to Yoshio. He then sat down and surreptitiously watched our boss’ reaction, hoping for a clue as to the long-term viability of the SoraHouse.

After Yoshio opened the envelope and examined its contents, he cocked his head sideways…

…looked into the middle distance…

…and then just sat there, laughing to himself.

It was, honestly, a pretty hard reaction to read, so Go got walked over to Yoshio’s desk again and peeked over his shoulder at the property tax bill, where he saw it was…

…just 4,400 yen, equal to about US$33 at the current exchange rate!

OK, that boded well for the SoraHouse. But wait – Go then remembered that in Japan, the annual property tax bill is broken into four payments, which you can either pay all at once or spread out. That 4,400-yen bill was just for the first payment, so maybe the real hit was coming in payments 2, 3, and 4?

Nope! Payment 2, which isn’t due until the end of July, is just 1,000 yen. That’s also the tax fee for payments 3 and 4, which need to be taken care of in December of this year and February of 2024, respectively.

Add it all up, and our annual property taxes for the house are just 7,400 yen, or a little under US$55.

▼ Yes, the annual property tax for this house is less than the cost of Japan’s new “blow air up towards your crotch” fan.

Unfortunately, the tax bill doesn’t include the methodology of how it was calculated. When Go asked Yoshio, though, our boss’ theory is “Probably because the house itself isn’t worth much” (i.e. it was purchased for such a low price).

But while it’s monetary value may be low, the SoraHouse is worth a lot to us emotionally. With the tax bill this low, Yoshio has said that the project will continue, and we’re looking forward to bringing you a whole batch of new updates in the months to come.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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