• Laura

Finding your place in Tokyo

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

So you know you're coming to Tokyo, but maybe you want to avoid those nightmarish start-up fees, or you're coming from another country and ideally you'd like to see the place before you get it. Well I was in a very similar boat, which is why I'd like to share my experience with you.

If you're in this situation I highly recommend that you check out share houses. They may not be ideal for everyone (I like my personal space too), but there are lots of share houses that have popped up in Tokyo over the years, and they all have different things to offer.

I went with a company called "Oakhouse". This company was particularly ideal for me as I could get a place close to my work. I could also move in to a furnished room and even order a pillow and duvet. This allowed me to move to Japan pretty stress free. But one of the biggest bonuses was that if I decided to leave, I only had to give a month's notice and there are no cancellation fees.

The house I chose was located in Meguro. It was pricier than other share houses because of the location but it had a lot of good amenities including a large, modern kitchen, a lounge, a study room and large (onsen like) bath. One of my fears about moving into a space like this was about cleanliness, and also if the communal areas like the kitchen and bathrooms would always have queues. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I found that when I went to the bathroom, most of the time, I was the only one there and when I went to kitchen I could often cook straight away. As for cleanliness, we had a cleaner come through-out the week, the kitchen was kept very clean, the bathrooms on the other hand weren't as clean as I would have liked, but by no means unusable. I was actually taken aback at how many people I saw, gathering how many people lived in the house, I barely saw anyone in the communal areas. After starting a conversation with one man, who had been living there for 2 months, he said I was the first person to speak to him. I found that most of the people staying in Oakhouse were only staying for a very short period of time and most of them ate out a lot. This was the case for my share house and although it could have just been at the time I joined and maybe just my house, I did find it odd. I knew I wanted to live somewhere where I could socialize which led me to Social Apartment. Oakhouse however, was a great start for me, it took a lot of the stress out of moving to another country, trying to find furniture etc. I highly recommend you check out their website, they have lots of options and they also have women only accommodation too.

I have been living in Social Apartment for one year now and I have really enjoyed my time here. After my experience with my first share house I knew I wanted to live somewhere where I could socialize, somewhere with nature and somewhere close to a supermarket. I chose my current place as when viewing the apartment I had residents approach me in the communal areas and introduce themselves. Also, every Social Apartment has a pool (snooker) table, which can make breaking the ice a lot easier, even if you're not a good player. When I come home it really feels like a "home". I really recommend Social Apartment, they do have the initial start up fees as residents are usually staying for longer (1 year plus) and you do often have to get furniture. However, if you like the social aspect of this kind of living, there are many Social Apartments all over Tokyo and they all have a different vibe so I recommend you look at their website and check them out.

Below I wanted to include a few things to consider when apartment hunting:

1. Direction - Which direction is your apartment facing? Will your clothes dry if you put them on your balcony?

2. How much natural light do you get? If it's a dark room, it's going to be COLD in winter and you'll need to check out my article on how to survive a Japanese winter.

3. Floor level - Choosing ground level can be okay but be aware that you may be more likely to have insects and pests such as cockroaches.

4. Supermarket - 20 minutes may sound reasonable until you're carrying all your shopping bags home in 35 degree Celsius heat.

Thank you for reading. I hope this was informative and if you have any questions or if you have any advice, please comment below.

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Disclaimer: All information provided on this website is exclusively based on my own research and experiences. Facts such as opening times and prices etc. may vary or have been changed since. 

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