Living in Japan: Why Share Houses are an Ideal Choice

If you’re moving to Japan for work or study, deciding where to stay is no simple decision. Here’s why you should seriously consider a share house. There are now over 2,800 share houses in Japan. They’re easy to get into, interesting to live in, and much easier on your wallet than renting your own place.


What What on Flickr

Simple Application Process

There are many English-friendly share house agencies now online, so finding them is easy.

The process is easy too. For my share house, I just visited the house in person (via Skype is also OK), and filled out a simple application form. Money-wise, I paid one month’s rent as deposit, plus the first month’s actual rent. No other money was needed. If you’re renting an apartment by yourself in Japan, you can expect to pay a lot more than that during the sign-up period. In my experience, two to three months’ deposit, plus a non-refundable amount known as key money is required. There’s also relator’s fees and fire insurance fees to consider. Most rental leases in Japan also require a Japanese guarantor - someone who will pay your bills should you skip the country. If you don’t have anyone to do this, you’ll need to pay an additional fee to get one. A guarantor is not needed for shared housing, making it overall much easier and cheaper than renting your own place. Monthly rent fees are also slightly cheaper. Depending on your room size, expect to pay ¥30,000-70,000 for a shared house, including bills.


Trust me, it’s much cheaper to order pizza with your housemates.

No-hassle Wi-Fi and Help with Services

Wi-Fi, water, gas, electricity, appliances - they’re all essentials of living in Japan. Moving into a shared house means these things will be hassle-free on day one. They’re already set up, and your monthly rent should include them. When you leave the house, you don’t need to worry about cancelling them. Should problems happen with these services, or anything at all in your daily Japan life, like an emergency dentist appointment needed, you’ve got an agency or housemates on hand who can help you out.

Daily Free Japanese Practice

If you are coming to Japan to learn Japanese, there’s no better way than in a share house. Share houses are a growing trend in Japan, as many single young professionals want to share with foreigners, so they can try out some English. Helping each other learn a new language is a great way to bond with new housemates. By living with Japanese housemates, you’ll also have a major cultural advantage over foreigners who live alone, or only with other foreigners. You’ll learn more about Japanese manners, food, and customs up close.


Learn About Japanese Food, Like Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) from Your Housemates

More Space

City apartments in Japan are compact to say the least. On an average teaching wage, you can afford to rent an apartment, but it’s likely to be of a bedsit-variety, with one room acting as your living/dining/bedroom at the same time. It’s cozy, and private for sure, but if you share a house you’ll have more square footage overall to live in. You can expect a bedroom to yourself, plus shared areas including one or two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living area all separated. Some houses also have small balconies, rooftops and gardens that apartments generally don’t have. Sure, you have to share the communal space with others, but not everyone is on the same schedule, so every now and then comes the magic hour when you’ve got the place to yourself.


Gardens are rare for solo apartment renters, but easy to find in shared places

And More Interesting Space!

Apartments do tend to look a little same-y whatever country you live in, but Japanese share houses are often points of interest in themselves. The two-floor share house I live in now reminds me of the one Chihiro lived in in Ghibli’s Spirited Away. Another share house I looked at previously was a converted fish-sausage factory, with ten bedrooms. Whichever place you decide on, it’ll be unique.

Friends for Life

Of course, just like share houses back home, communal living has its social ups and downs. With average Japanese share houses starting at around six people, chances are you’ll meet at least one other person you really get on with, because moving into a share house gives you an instant social circle. My house has monthly meetings, where we cook, eat and drink together. If you’re the kind of person who gets energy from socialising with others, you’ll find living in a share house can really uplift your mood and bring out the best in you. Before you know it, you’re feeling more at home in a new country and you’ve got some new language skills down. So even if you decide to move out and get a place by yourself after a while, you’ll have made some great savings, lasting connections and memories for a lifetime.

Further reading:

Come on UP - share house agency for Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto

All images credit: Come on UP’s Facebook page. Used with kind permission.

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