Soaring land and rent prices prompt increase in transfer of population out of Kutchan to surrounding areas in Niseko region
According to a report compiled by the town of Kutchan in the Niseko region of central Hokkaido, the number of people moving out of the town to the six surrounding towns and villages at the foot of Mt. Yotei exceeded the number of people moving into the town from the same six towns and villages by almost 100 over the past five years. The main reason is said to be that many people are moving out of the town due to soaring land prices and rents, caused by the booming resort development in the town, and real estate agents analyze that this situation will continue for some time.
According to data compiled by the town, the number of people who moved to the six surrounding towns and villages (Niseko, Rankoshi, Kyogoku, Kimobetsu, Rusutsu and Makkari) between 2017 and 2021 was 637. In contrast, the number of people who moved into the town from the same six towns and villages during the same period was 540, which is 97 fewer than those who moved out.
The number of people moving out of Kutchan exceeded the number moving in, with regard four towns: Niseko (63 more), Rankoshi (23 more) Kimobetsu (16 more) and Kyogoku (2 more). The total population of Kutchan at the end of last year was 14,785 – approximately 1,700 less than five years ago, due to a natural decrease in the number of deaths exceeding births, and a decrease in the number of seasonal workers from overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A male company employee (44) who lives in Rankoshi, lived in Kutchan until last year and worked for another company. He and a colleague lived in a shared house rented by his company, and the monthly rent was 75,000 yen. “With gasoline fees, it was hard to make ends meet.” He looked for cheaper housing in the town, but found only one-room apartments with a monthly rent of 50,000 to 60,000 yen, but found a rented house in Rankoshi with a monthly rent of 30,000 yen, and moved there last April when he started his new job.
“Now the rent is cheap and I have 5 rooms, so life is much better,” he said.
According to the standard land prices published by the Hokkaido government, as of July 1 last year, the price per square meter in the center of Kutchan (Kita 1 Nishi 2) was 110,000 yen, which is 4.2 times higher than it was five years ago. Residential areas a little further away have more than doubled in price, and the cost of renting has also risen. According to a real estate agent in the town, “More and more young people are buying their own homes in the surrounding towns and villages where land is cheaper, rather than continuing to pay Kutchan’s high rents.”
Another real estate agent pointed out, “Land prices in the Hirafu area (a resort area) have skyrocketed and the burden of inheritance tax is heavy, so some landowners are selling their land before they pass away, and moving to the surrounding areas. With the opening of the Shinkansen bullet train and expressway, land prices in Kutchan are likely to continue to rise for some time to come.”
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