"Second-life Homes" not Virtual in Japan

Posted by Jim Ivanoff
June 30th, 2009

Rusutsu House Karuizawa-New Cabin While Second-life is an online virtual world, through BC Wood's recently completed study into the Japanese resort market we have found that "second-life homes" are a real market opportunity.

As the
baby-boomers have begun to retire, many are looking for a relaxing environment
to build a second or even a new permanent home. This new take on cabins can be
called “second-life homes” after the Japanese term “second-life” which refers
to the new and relaxing lifestyle that begins after retirement. 

Areas that were originally subdivided for cabins during the bubble years are highly desirable for “second-life homes” as they offer both the natural attributes the retirees are seeking and in many cases low land costs as the original developer has gone bankrupt or has simply been stuck with underutilized property for almost 20 years. Rural governments are also encouraging this migration as it will help rebuild their tax bases while also stimulating local demand.

While this shift is just in its infancy, there are at least two trends that seem to be emerging with respect to the “second-life homes” being built. One is that these homes are being built for long-term stays and thus must be of higher quality and better design than the weekend homes of the bubble era. 

Niseko Cabin 1 The other trend is that while quality is seen as key to comfortable living, the physical size is not. Most baby-boomers have raised their families in cramped houses or condos so they do not see the need to have a large house now that there are only two people to worry about. Having spaces such as enclosed garages or sheds to do hobbies in is more important as is an attractive design. In talking to architects working on such projects, it seems that Whistler inspired "West Coast style" timberframe home designs have a very good chance to become the defining look of higher-end "second-life homes."

This is just one of the findings from the "Opportunities for Value-added Manufacturers in the Japanese Resort Market" report. The entire report will soon be made available to all BC Wood members so make sure to watch for it. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions about "second-life homes" and how BC Wood can help you seek opportunities in this market segment.

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