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5 Apartment services for living in Tokyo

   If you are moving to Toyko of course the first thing you need to figure out is where exactly you’re going to stay.Being a foreigner and renting an apartment can seem daunting, especially if you have limited Japanese skills. However, have no fear! There are a few options for the newly transplanted Tokyoites when it comes to apartments, and not just the traditional method of renting a two year contract and paying the notoriously high “shikikin" (deposit of usually 3 months' rent) and “reikin" (key money presented to the landlord, which is not refunded). That alternative is share houses. I'll be presenting 5 notable Tokyo share house companies here.

1. Sakura house: The leading share house provider in Toyko

Image Sakura house

   Sakura house may be the most well known share house service in Tokyo, and covers the largest area of availability metropolitan Tokyo and the surrounding areas such as Chiba and Saitama prefectures. I’ve used Sakura house a few times and the renting procedure is straightforward and can be settled either inside and outside Japan fairly quickly. In fact, a former roommate of mine walked into their office without contacting them ahead of time and got his room sorted out within two hours! Staff are very helpful and can speak English and popular European and Asian languages. Sakura house provides more that just housing though, it also arranges activities for its tenants such as guided excursions outside of Tokyo and Japanese cultural events. They require a 30,000JPY deposit and one month’s rent upon moving in, but refund 20,000JPY of the deposit as long as there is no damage done to the room. The average price of a room is about 60,000 to 80,000JPY per month. Payment can be handled by cash, credit card, or bank transfer.

2. Oakhouse: Share house with style 

Image Oakhouse

   Oak house is also rather prominent throughout Tokyo. I visited a few Oakhouse places around the Asakusa area, and for the most part the interior left something to be desired as the buildings were quite old. However, there was one converted company dormitory where tons of people lived. The kitchen and share living space were huge, and there was also dance studio/gym, and a home theater room. This place sold me on how good Oakhouse could be. It feels a bit hit or miss and viewing the room before moving it a must, but if you're willing to pay a bit more Oakhouse might the option for you considering the quality of the rooms seems to go up a lot with the price. On their site you can check you the statistics of each share house, such as the ages and nationalities of the people who are already living there. This way you can find an share house with an environment that best suites you. They also require a 30,000JPY deposit but do not refund any of it when moving out. Oak house only accepts payment by credit card or bank transfer.

3. Boarderless house: Live with Japanese people

   Another player in the Tokyo share house game, border less house has 62 share house locations in Tokyo. With a pretty standard policy that mimics the other services, the biggest thing that makes Boarderless house stand out is half its renters are Japanese nationals. If you're looking to really get immersed in Japan, Borderless house may be the choice for you.

4. FLAT Inc: Share house on a budget 

Image FLAT.Inc

   I have never stayed at a FLAT share house, but I did consider them during my last apartment hunting session. They provide competitive prices and a wide range of places to stay across Tokyo. Sadly though, when I contacted them through their online reservation inquiry form I never got a reply back. It was a bit disappointing, especially compared to Sakura house’s reply within 24hrs. That being said, it may have just been a fluke. Some of their rooms a very cheap though, so it may be worth your time to inquire a few times. 

 5. airbnb: Welcome to your home away from home

Image airbnb

   Last but certainly not least airbnb is also an option. Not a share house per se, but certainly in the same playing field, airBnB is probably familiar to many people already and has gained popularity worldwide. Certainly one of the more expensive options I've presented here, aibnb is recommended for people looking for the calm, comfort, and privacy of a furnished home, as opposed to the more communal atmosphere of share houses. That being said, people I’ve talked to say it's a great way to meet new people and make friends.

   Most of the time contracts for share houses operate on a month to month basis, so as long as you give one month's notice you can move out at any time without be charged cancelation fees. Share houses are an interesting option, but definitely not for everyone. If you prefer your personal space and a quiet atmosphere it might not be a good idea. But if you're looking for a new experience and are willing to take a chance I'd say try it out. Worst-case scenario you only have to stay for a month and it’ll be a different kind of experience your sure not to forget.

Who am I and why should you believe what I have to say about Tokyo apartments? 

My name is Jack Xavier. I’ve been living in Japan for 7 years, the last 2 have been in Tokyo at multiple share houses. After graduating high school I decided to attend university in Japan and also completed my masters degree here. I’ve been studying Japanese since I was 11.

Written by: Jack Xavier 
Global English 19 Dec 2014 at 12:33
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