Why did we decide to build a house in Japan?

I don't mind renting. It can be more expensive, but for someone who isn't quite sure where to live, it's worth paying for the added freedom. That's how I used to think, until trying to find a suitable place to rent in the small city we live in Japan.

We wanted to be within a short walking distance to a nearby elementary school, so our son would have an easy commute. Most schools in Japan require school uniforms, but we wanted to enroll him in one that didn't, which limited our options a lot.

For myself, I wanted to have the ocean nearby, as I enjoy swimming during the summer.

For my wife, the commute to work shouldn't be too long by car.

Ideally there should be at least 90 square meters (970 square feet) so it wouldn't be too cramped, and ideally all of us should have their own rooms.

Nothing fulfilling these conditions was available for rent. The locations we limited to already made it close to impossible to find one, and the size constraint made it literally impossible to find anything to rent. Turns out 90 square meters is huge by Japanese standards. Most places are less than 70.

There were no suitable apartments to rent, and there weren't even any suitable used or prebuilt houses to buy. Well, there was one, but while we were considering whether to buy it or not, someone else bought it first!

With nothing ready-made to rent or buy, but with plenty of affordable plots of land in suitable locations, we were only left with the option of building new.