In many countries in Europe, it is common for people to rent the house or apartment they live in, but In the UK, everyone dreams of owning their own home. Traditionally, houses in the UK have gone up in value over time, so even young people are not afraid to take out big loans because it is a kind of investment. The basic pattern has always been that you would buy a small house, live in it for a few years, and then sell it at a profit and buy somewhere bigger. That also meant that you didn’t have to worry about changing jobs or moving to a new area, because you could always just sell your house and buy another one. To give you an example, I think my family’s first house in Wales cost something like 12,000 pounds when I was seven years old. The same house would now cost around 200,000 pounds. Things are a bit different now, of course, and young people are finding it more and more difficult to borrow the money to buy their first home. (This is called “getting on the property ladder.”) The result is that they either have to borrow money from their parents, just keep living at home, or rent a place with friends.
There are several reasons why house prices go up in the UK. The first is that unlike Japan, the UK does not have earthquakes, so houses can be built from brick and stone. That means that they last for hundreds of years. Another factor is that there are very tight controls on where you can build new houses, so demand stays high even though supply is limited.
Of course, the situation is very different in Japan. If you buy a house here, you have to be sure that you are not going to move, because the value of the house if you try to sell it will be lower than the cost of building it. It has always been my dream to build a house in Japan, but I was never sure enough about my job. Also, foreigners in Japan can only get a loan if we have an 永住権. I only got mine three years ago, so I never really had a chance to buy a house before that.
I have lived in four rented houses here – one in Sapporo, one in Nagoya, one in Seto, and the one I live in now in Gifu. The house I lived in Sapporo was amazing. It was an imported Canadian house with really good insulation and central heating, and it had a built-in garage with a remote controlled door. All the other houses have been Japanese, though, and they were boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.
I am hoping that in a couple of years, I will be able to build a north-American style house here in Gifu. I want a house that is properly insulated, with double glazing and a built-in garage. Two disadvantages of building will be that it will cost me more money than renting and also that I will not be able to move once I build it. Another disadvantage is that at the moment, I get 住宅手当 from my job, but I won’t get that any more if I buy my own place. The advantage, of course, will be that I will be able to design my house from scratch to suit my lifestyle.
I’m sure that many of you must have had to make the decision about whether to buy or rent in the past, and I was wondering what you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each. Of course, there are still lots of decisions to make even if you decide to build, so I would like to hear what you think about options like 建て売り or 自由設計, 木造 or 鉄骨, and so on.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
PS I saw that you were still discussing the issue of Amo’s answers to my question. I’m afraid I can’t really see what the problem is, but Amo’s answer looked fine to me. I think you were focussing far too much on the grammar of the sentences and not enough on interpreting them in context. I asked “Do you wear a watch?” and Amo said, “Yes, I do.” That is fine. I then asked “Would your answer have been different 10 years ago?” and she said “Yes.” That means, “Yes, my answer would have been different.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that she didn’t wear a watch 10 years ago, it just means that the way she wears a watch today is different in some way from back then. Hope that helps.