This is the first entry in a three-part series on housing for foreign residents in Japan.

Clickbait headlines like “Get a free house in the Japanese countryside!” have popped up over the past several years — and while the idea of moving into an old home in bucolic rural Japan sounds amazing in theory, the reality is more complex. Nonetheless, a number of factors have collided recently to create unique opportunities in the housing market for foreign residents of Japan.

Japan’s slowly but steadily rising prices, openness to foreign investors, excellent architects and infrastructure for house building — and an increase of resources and agencies for acquiring akiya, or abandoned, often ultra-cheap homes — have combined to make Japan an attractive environment for non-Japanese looking to acquire real estate, be it a primary home, secondary home or investment.