If you love anime and you’re looking for affordable housing in Tokyo, your search may be over.
Seeing as how the entire English-language RocketNews24 team is composed of people who at some point moved to Japan, we’re pretty big proponents of living here. One unpleasant part of the package, though, it that since you can’t claim the whole country as your residence, living in Japan means finding an apartment in Japan, which is generally agreed upon as one of the least enjoyable parts of the expat experience.
Why? For the following four reasons.
There’s a huge variety of fees that need to be paid when renting a new apartment in Japan. In addition to an advance payment of your first month’s rent, there’s insurance, the security deposit, the realtor’s fee, and the dreaded “key money,” basically a sign-up cost that you pay to the landlord for the privilege of being allowed to start giving him money on a monthly basis.
Add it all up, and you’ll probably find yourself out several months’ worth of rent before spending the first night in your new home. But there’s a nice upside if you chose to go through one unique realtor, because while you’ll still have some fees to pay, you’ll also get a nice housewarming present in the form of several hundred dollars’ worth of anime merchandise.
When hunting for an apartment in the Tokyo area, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re really looking for in a living space. Housing is expensive in general in Japan, and that goes double for the neighborhoods in and around its biggest city, so after picking out a few features or aspects you have to have, it’s best to be willing to compromise on other factors.
For example, you might have your heart set on a corner room, but don’t mind tatami reed floors. Maybe you can deal with having a wall-mounted water heater if your living room gets a lot of natural light. Or perhaps being less than a 15-minute train ride from downtown Tokyo will instantly seal the deal, even if the trade-off is that the apartment’s bathroom doesn’t have any walls.
Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!
These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?
The first time I went apartment hunting in Japan, I was shocked by how bare-bones some of them are. The lack of centralized air conditioning means often you have to go to the appliance store and buy your own AC unit, and oftentimes lighting and even a cooking range aren’t included either.
As a result, it’s always a relief to find an apartment that has any sort of amenities already included. And while a mini fridge or ceiling lamp is a nice freebie, neither one is anywhere near as cool as an apartment that comes pre-stocked with a library of manga.
Engrish, the comedic results when non-native speakers utilize English, is hilarious and when used on products and signs, the results are shared far and wide with great enjoyment. But sometimes it’s not just incorrect English that is really funny, sometimes it’s just the seemingly awkward usage of perfectly normal English. What do we mean exactly? Take apartment building, for example, which are notorious for sporting some of the most ridiculous names. Perhaps it’s for the best though, because sometimes it turns your modest accommodations into a luxurious palace! Would you like to live like British superstar Phil Collins? Would you like to live IN Phil Collins?!?
In Japan, places where people have died are considered bad luck, so unsurprisingly apartments where there has been a suicide, murder, or other death are rented at much cheaper prices than usual due to a lack of demand. However, real estate agencies are seeing a surge in people specifically seeking these kinds of ‘death rooms’. That may sound horribly morbid, but usually it’s not out of a desire to be close to death. Rather, for those who can put aside their culturally-ingrained reservations, it’s a way to save money during tough times.
Before marriage compelled me to look for nicer living quarters, I lived in a an apartment that was….less than spacious. At first, I ate my meals off the top of my microwave, since it took several months of rearranging my belongings to create enough floor space for a low-lying table.
In the five years I lived in that bunker, I never did figure out a configuration which would allow me to cram a chair into it, but eventually I got used to having an extremely Spartan home. Even still, I don’t think I could manage living in the apartment of one Tokyoite, which measures just under five square meters (54 square feet).
Get a shiny new iPhone 5 for Christmas? Already own one but looking for a way to spruce it up for the new year? These covers may be just the ticket!
Designed by Japanese writer and photographer Ken Oyama, these snappy smartphone covers are sure to draw plenty of interested glances on your next train ride or visit to a trendy coffee-house.