Habitat Hokkaido's Henry Turner on the lifestyle trend influencing Hokkaido real estate
In the last two months we have seen real estate sales enquiries increase to an all time, Covid-era, high!
The Hokkaido real estate market is certainly not where it was pre-Covid, but neither is it where it was two years ago during the depths of despair, and nor is it where it was last year, when many believed Covid was drawing to an end.
Now feels different.
Now, feels like the entire world has finally taken a collective deep breath and has exhaled a residing sigh of acceptance.
Now, people are genuinely starting to get on with their lives and planning for what they, and many others, see as the ‘new normal’.
This ‘new normal’ is of course different for different people, but for a huge portion of the world’s workforce this ‘new normal’ means a change from the daily commute and a strict 9am–5pm (often longer) work day, to a situation commonly described as ‘WFH’ (work from home) with more freedom around hours punched in the clock and instead a greater focus on completing work tasks and objectives.
Those experiencing this shift in circumstances are generally referred to as ‘remote workers’. They either run their own businesses, or are employees of companies that allow them to do the bulk, if not all, of their work remotely.
“…this new wave of real estate buyers is flocking to areas such as Central-West Hokkaido, determined to find a perfect property matching their work-life balance dream”
So long as there is a reliable power supply and fast internet connection these ‘remote workers’ can live almost anywhere they wish, and it is evident they intend to!
It is this demographic which is breathing new life back into the property market in Hokkaido.
Cognisant of the benefits of digital work, but also mindful of the need for stability and safety in raising a happy family, this new wave of real estate buyers is flocking to areas such as Central-West Hokkaido, determined to find a perfect property matching their work-life balance dream.
Hokkaido, and especially this region made most famous by Niseko, is tremendously appealing.
The area boasts a host of highly desirable attributes from world renowned skiing in the finest powder snow on the planet, to an incredible variety and quality of cuisine made from the freshest and finest produce.
A simply stunning and immaculately clean environment, Hokkaido has everything from volcanic mountain ranges, rolling farmed fields, wild forests and crystal-clear waters – both along the coasts and inland in rivers and lakes with an abundance of awesome wildlife.
Hokkaido residents are perhaps then unsurprisingly, en masse, famous for their love of the outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding in winter, fishing in Spring and Autumn, playing golf in summer, and fanatically camping almost all times of the year.
Many of the tourists who had frequently visited this region over the pre-Covid years are now starting to seriously consider a permanent move here, as they see it as a perfect place to live and “work from home”.
The result of this is almost all recent enquiries to Habitat Hokkaido coming from people living in major urban hubs, both within Japan and abroad, wanting to trade-in the hustle and bustle of city-life for a patch of Hokkaido paradise where they can enjoy a better, healthier and less-stressful lifestyle.
Although the price-brackets of these recent enquiries range considerably, all are very similar in terms of background, situation and what the buyer is seeking to achieve.
Generally speaking, they all can (and now do) work from home or remotely. They are either starting a family or have a family, and they want to trade their city lives for a more relaxed existence surrounded by nature, in a safe environment, where they can enjoy sporting and leisure activities with their families.
We at Habitat Hokkaido are handling many clients looking for real estate in Makkari and around other areas circling Mount Yotei as well as Lake Toya, and are currently working with an expat couple from Tokyo looking to buy land to build a house for themselves and their two young children. We are also in the process of a sale with a couple looking to do build three or more houses for themselves and their close friends.
From overseas, we have a handful of families from Australia all looking for a sizeable piece of land either with an existing house to renovate or to build new on.
And domestically, we also have Japanese buyers looking to move out of Sapporo, Osaka and Tokyo and relocate to Makkari and or the surrounding areas for the exact same reasons.
ALL of whom have explicitly stated they intend to work from home and want to move here for the environment and nature.
These pioneers of the ‘new normal’, with their positive-minded spirit and a genuine lust for a better lifestyle, are the leading driver, creating a new wave of optimistic home-buyers and real estate investors determined to make the ‘new normal’ better than the past.
An ever-optimist myself, I not only deeply thank these brave, determined, savvy souls, I also wholeheartedly agree with their outlook, and am equally, if not perhaps more, ‘bullish’ on the property market here on our humble island of Hokkaido.