The House Saga Continues

Not sure if I mentioned this on here or not, but we has some land that our MIL gave us to build a house on.  Houses and land are generally measured here in relation to tatami mat size.  One “tsubo” is two tatami mats.  Usual land size in Gunma for a new build is about 50-70 tsubo.  The land that we have is about 150-200 tsubo (yes, I know I should listen more carefully).   So it’s pretty nice 🙂 

The land is in Misato-machi, where we are living now, and also where MIL’s house is.  It’s surrounded by farmland, although it’s near a road, and there are other houses nearby, so it’s not particularly isolated.  Now here is the crunch.  Our land is registered as “farmland”.  At the moment, MIL is letting someone use it for whatever, because if it’s being used, it’s not getting overgrown and means we don’t have to tend it.  In order to build a house on it, we need to convert it to residential land.  For this, we need permission from the council.  Here it is a bit cloudy in my head, but the farmers have a say in whether we convert OUR land or not…It will affect their farming, as it would mean them not being able to use pesticides or other chemical nasty things they want to use.  I can understand that having a house next to your farmland might be a bit of a pain, I suppose.  We have applied to convert the land so many times, that I can’t remember how many any more.  We can only apply two or three times a year, I think it is.  The last two times, MIL has employed a solicitor to help draw up plans and the like.  I found out yesterday, that he costs 50,000 yen a time, so it’s not really something you want to be doing too many times.  In fact, if it were me, after the first time, I might call it quits, but MIL is certainly one for trying.  Yesterday, my husband and MIL went to apply once more.  Afterwards, someone told them that since Misato merged with Takasaki city, almost all applications for converting land are denied.  Downer…

We had been thinking about buying a used house.  MIL has said that she wants to provide us with land, because it was something that she and FIL had promised before FIL passed away.  I told her that circumstances change and that she doesn’t need to feel obliged by a promise made years ago.  But she is erm, how shall I put it..strong-willed, so I didn’t go on about it too much.  Later that day, we found that there was an open viewing day on a used house out in Annaka city, about 25 minutes from Misato.  As we didn’t need to make an appointment and could just go and have a look, off we went.  Neither of us have thought about Annaka before.  It’s not exactly an attractive town, but then neither is Misato really.  Beautiful mountains, but lots of old ramshackled houses.  We just wanted to see what the used house market is like here.

A hairpin bend and a few small roads later, we end up at the house.  A rather bored estate agent jumped out of his car and readjusted his tie when he saw us arrive.  The house was old, but at 10,300,000 yen, there is scope for doing it up so we had to look past that.  It was pretty old, but the space compared to other houses was noticeable.  Most new builds are 31 tsubo and this was 33 and seemed much bigger.  After looking around and seeing what changes we could make, we noticed the house next door was empty too.  The estate agent said it was available too.  So we went to look inside.  After going in there, the first house was pretty much forgotten.  The house had been repossessed, bought by developers and refurbished.  It was 38 tsubo, but as the first one, land was only 64 tsubos.  In terms of space, even for 4 million more than the other, it was HUGE.  And although the colours aren’t really for us (lots of dark woods), these are things that can be fixed. 

I was a bit annoyed to be honest.  Because I had expected to just go and see what was on offer, come home and not really think much more about it.  I didn’t expect to be looking around a house, see another couple arrive and think, “don’t buy it, don’t buy it!”

We hadn’t taken photos yesterday, so today, on the way home from shopping, I nipped over just to have another look.  A critical second viewing, I suppose, with no pressure of an agent breathing down our neck.  Although to be fair, he was quite restrained.

These are the cons.: 

  • It is VERY rural, even compared to where we live now.

  • It is VERY quiet and surrounded by forests, so might be a bit scary at night time

  • It is surrounded by forests, a stream, and therefore, lots of bugs and creepy crawlies

  • There is next to no scope for a garden, which I really want for the children to be able to play in

 

And the pros.:

  • It’s pretty

  • It’s quiet

  • There are lots of places to “go for a walk” without getting mowed down by a tractor or a ten-ton-truck

  • There are not many close neighbours 🙂

  • It is cheap as chips

  • there are FIVE bedrooms, with two downstairs, so if I wanted to start a little school, there would be plenty of usable space for it

  • It is at least 20 minutes drive from MIL’s place…

 

After looking around at other houses on the way home, I am realising that I really want a garden, and that it might be a bit too lonely out there, even if it is a short drive to civilisation.  Pretty is good, but in terms of somewhere to live, I don’t think it’s my highest priority.

Ah well, at least now we know that there are other possibilities.  MIL is set on us building new, but then we are the ones who will have to struggle with a new build budget, so a used house in another location is definitely something to think about!

Approach to the houses

Approach to the houses

House

Hmmm...

Hmmm...

Garden possibility...small!

Garden possibility...small!

Living/Dining area

Living/Dining area

Bike storage at side of house

Bike storage at side of house

Little forest opposite house

Little forest opposite house

Back of house

Back of house

Little stream across the road from house

Little stream across the road from house

 

View from picture window

View from picture window

Picture window, floor to ceiling!

Picture window, floor to ceiling!

 

Layout

Layout

Upstairs layout

Upstairs layout

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The House Saga Continues

  1. Wow you got a block of land from your in-laws? Wow! Shame it seems as if you are having trouble getting the access you need to build on it.

    As for the house you showed- it is pretty! I like it. But I guess, as you said, there are pros and cons. I think whatever you decide as long as you have weighed up the options you will find yourself happy in your choice whether you decide to buy an older place (away from MIL), build new somewhere else or get access to the land you already own and build there I am sure in the end whatever you choose will work out well for you guys.

    My own house (old or not!) would be so nice!

    • Yes, good eh 😉 ! But I really think that converting the land isn’t going to happen. This time is our last time trying. As long as the place is warm and big enough for us all, anywhere is fine really. But then the garden is obviously a clincher for me. Looking around different places makes you realise what you REALLY want though, so it’s all good. Ah, I KNOW we couldn’t afford to buy a new place in an urban area. If truth be told, we can’t really afford a place unless I work. That was what was so appealing about the above house. We could afford it without me working. But I will probably be working in a couple of years anyway, so have to think long-term.

      Yes! Would love a house of my own too!!!

  2. That is nice! I like the madori, looks like you would have a tonne of storage, and we all know how important that is here without basements.

    I am not sure what kind of place you are living in now, but the reason we moved back to a centre-town apartment is because living in a place like that, I developed serious allergies. I’m allergic to some sort of weed that is only in Japan. I had no idea until I lived in a house in the inaka. When we build a house we will be building it in the suburbs with as much concrete around as possible, just because no matter how much I like the inaka, I cannot stand being sick everyday as I was for 3 years. If you already know none of you are allergic then I think that place would be great though!

    • Hi. Madori? What is that? Yes, there is a lot of storage there, which is very important to us too. However, the new house company that we are looking at has a sub-terranean space (1.4metres) to use for storage or playrooms. Because of it’s height, it’s not included in the area count, so that’s pretty good too!

      In terms of the allergies, I hear you there. I never had hayfever in the U.K., but I have it here in the autumn. Our place now is in the countryside too though, surrounded by rice fields, so in that respect, it wouldn’t be that much of a change. Suburbs sound nice though 🙂 Just wish the land space was bigger in urban areas 😦

  3. Being unable to use your land kind of defeats the purpose of it eh? That’s gotta be incredibly annoying. I think I’d be looking at used houses too… which, like that one above, can be really nice! I love the house, but I think it might be lonely out there. Then again, I’ve always lived in the city (even back home) so… it might be fine for you!

    Hope you keep us updated with the thinking and deciding progress.

    • Khea – I know, so stupid. But in some ways, it gives us a bit more freedom about where we can live. The “unusable” land is at least 1k from the primary school and includes one big main road to cross. Anyway, if I have to, I can think of plenty of drawbacks to living there, just to make not being able to live there a bit more positive! Ahhhh, well I am also a city lover, to be honest. Takasaki city at least has a shinkansen station, so that means it’s a growing city, and there are lots of little streets with boutiques and independent retailers, so the vibe is good there. Unfortunately, my love for gardens means that finding a place within our budget there would be really hard 😦 So I am settling for being within driving distance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s