Japan’s Postretirement Condo Lifestyle New Trend for Seniors

Japan Real Estate

Seniors Move from Houses to Condos

28 Sept, 2015 –

More and more retirees in their 60s and early 70s are opting to move from houses that they own to condominiums. Many want to downsize their home after their children become independent, and live in a convenient location, such as in a city.

Yoji Nakamura, 67, of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, moved with his wife from a detached house that they owned to a high-rise condominium in front of JR Hamamatsu Station after his retirement in 2008. Their previous home was in a suburban location with steep slopes, more than 15 minutes by car from the nearest station. “There were many hills, which made shopping difficult,” Nakamura said. “And taking care of the yard was hard.” He said his current life is vibrant. “The hospital is close, which is comforting,” he said. “And we sometimes go to concerts or to the movies.”

Yujin Oki, president of the real estate consulting company Style Act Co. in Tokyo, said: “In the past, quiet residential neighborhoods on top of hills were popular, but there are only houses around those places, and it is surprisingly inconvenient. Besides, as you age, hilly inclines become difficult.” According to Yoichi Ikemoto, editor of the housing information magazine Suumo, about 20 percent of seniors living in houses are considering moving. In a recent trend, many people are choosing smaller condominiums. “More and more people want to be free from the troublesome aspects of owning a house such as taking care of the yard, and they want to live active lives while participating in hobbies,” Ikemoto said.

Condominiums are easy to maintain, and living in one is convenient if it is near a commercial area. However, there are monthly expenses such as management fees and maintenance charges. In light of other factors such as the real estate tax, it is important to consider how moving will affect housing expenditures in the long run. The recent “active senior” generation, people from age 65 to their early 70s, values proximity to a station, a good view, and large-scale condos. Ikemoto said: “Especially for men, personal relationships often fade after retirement. It’s easy to have friends over if they live near a station with a good view, and a large-scale condo has plenty of facilities for socialization, such as party rooms, in addition to events.”

Condominiums targeting active seniors who prefer this lifestyle are beginning to appear. Grand Cosmos Musashiurawa, which is scheduled to be completed next year in Saitama, is four minutes on foot from the station. There are many spaces for interaction, with each of its 13 floors alternatively having a lounge or a multipurpose room. Inside the building is a large communal bath, a restaurant, a clinic and 24-hour monitoring service for potential emergencies. Prices start at ¥30 million for a 44-square-meter residence. Monthly costs such as management fees add up to between ¥50,000 and ¥80,000. A sales representative said: “The average age of the purchasers so far is 69. Many active seniors are making purchases, including those in their 80s.”

Another option for retirees is a two-generation condo lifestyle in which the parents and their adult children live in different units in the same condo building. The children can have their parents babysit for them, and the parents can have greater interaction with the neighbors through their grandchildren.

Those considering a condo in postretirement life should begin researching their options as early as their 50s, Oki says. “Mortgages can be taken out until age 80, so there is still time in one’s 60s, but the older the age the more difficult it will be,” he said. Of course, mortgages must be kept within one’s means to make repayment possible. Another thing to consider is that the risks of dementia and illness increase with age.

(Source – “The Japan News“, Pic – Seniors in Japan / “Hiro Kokoro Photo“)

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