Share Houses In Japan: Pros and Cons Of Living In A Share House In Japan
Moving to Japan for the first time as a foreigner can be really intimidating, especially if you don't speak the language.
Finding an apartment and setting up all the necessary utilities can be stressful.
Share houses is one of the obvious options, this article is going to detail the pros and the cons of living in a share house!
What Is A Share House?
A share house is a rental place with private and/or shared rooms as well as shared facilities or common space. These shared spaces include the kitchen, shower, or living room, which is also sometimes called the common area.
Share houses are popular choices for students and young working professionals for several reasons that I will list below.
Pros Of Living In A Share House
Share Houses Are Affordable
In Japan, when you decide to move into a new apartment, there are a lot of initial costs that could end up being astronomical (deposit, key money, guarantor fee, agency fee, appliances, utility bills, maintenance).
If you don't want to spend a huge chunk of the initial money you brought with you or if you are not willing to sign a long-term contract, share houses are the perfect option to mitigate all these initial costs.
All you have to pay for is the rent, deposit and the maintenance fees and you're good to go!
An estimate done in Tokyo shows the fees as follows :
You could save up ¥ 407,500 for a One Room apartment and up to ¥565,000 for a one Living Dining Kitchen apartment during the first month.
Not only that but the rent of a share house room is usually lower so you will be able to keep saving on rent during the next month. Finally, you won't have to pay for the initial furniture (bed, fridge, etc.) as the apartments in share houses come equipped with the basic furniture you will need to settle in !
Of course the price will differ according to the type of share house and the area the share house is in, but you can always expect them to be cheaper than other options !
Share Houses Are Accessible
The language barrier is a huge obstacle whenever you decide to move to a new country.
It is intimidating if you don't know how to communicate in the local language and it could make any process ten times more difficult.
In Japan, most of the information and forms are in Japanese so it is even more challenging to complete your moving-in process.
In traditional real-estate agencies, the Japanese staff usually only speaks Japanese or has a limited understanding / communication skills in English.
Share houses agencies counteract that problem by having at least one member of their staff that is there to help foreigners settle in and explain every step of the process.
Those staff members can at least speak English, but most of them speak two or more foreign languages!
Furthermore, they partner up with utility companies ( gas, internet, electricity) and will help you set up all these within their agency.
You won't have to worry about going through the process yourself !
Share Houses Are Social
Share houses are usually targeted towards young people, so you will have the opportunity to not only talk with other foreigners from all around the world but also with Japanese people as well !
They offer a unique cosmopolitan atmosphere and you will have plenty of opportunity to engage with many people,
learn tips and tricks from them about living in the city and have a few drinks and get to know them within the shared rooms.
Most share houses also hold bonding events at least once a month with all the tenants and they offer various activities; cooking, watching movies, board games etc.
This will be your chance to get to know the city more and create a new group of friends in Japan !
Cons Of Living In A Share House
Sharing Living Space In The Share House
As I mentioned before, most of the tenants in most of the share houses are young.
Sometimes the share house can be noisy, especially around the shared areas ( kitchen, living room, bathrooms).
Share houses can have a policy against inviting your own friends to your room for various reasons,
mostly to keep the noise in the rooms down and to not bother other tenants,
which can make it difficult if you just want to have an intimate moment with your friends without having to sit with the other tenants in the shared areas.
The quality of living in a share house highly depends on the tenants you share the house with.
Some people have had a great experience living there and some have complained about their tenants' hygiene or their lack of coordination.
Indeed, you will have to schedule your time around the washing machine, kitchen, bathrooms and
other shared appliances and space and coordinate with the other tenants so your time wouldn't overlap.
If you are introverted or if you have a tight schedule, you have to consider this obstacle.
The Share House Building
Given the rising success of share houses in Japan, a lot of owners switched their real estate to share houses.
Some are new and some of them... are not. That could make your life quite difficult
especially if the building has a problem with humidity or isn't up to standards with the modern earthquake safety regulations.
Be Careful ! Some share house agencies will also try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge
in order to push you to take a deal that is less than advantageous for you.
So take your time and be careful when making your choice !
Tips When Moving In A Share House
If you are interested in moving in a share house, you should first of all examine
the different real estate agencies that offer services that match your needs.
Most of the share houses' real estate agencies cater to foreigners so their websites will also be in English !
There is a lot of different share houses;
social residences are bigger and host a larger number of people.
They offer higher-end facilities and are geared towards socializing and getting thr most out of the shared living experience in Japan.
Oakhouse, Japan's largest share house , offers multi-purpose studios, office spaces and music studios. They also organize a lot of seminars, workshops and events for people that want to share they skills with other residents.
It is the perfect environment to cultivate networks and to learn about Japan socially, professionally and culturally. They offer support in English, Chinese, Japanese, French and Korean.
Smaller share houses are widely available with rooms varying from shared dorms to private rooms.
If you are looking to engage with more Japanese people, some share houses also are geared towards that. They are usually more affordable and still have the benefits of a share house (events, gatherings) so you will still be able to fully take advantage of the benefits that a share house can offer.
You can also find girls-only share houses. It really depends on your needs and choice criteria.
It is important to take the time to compare the prices of the different share houses according to the area and the services they offer.
Crosshouse offers a lot of different share houses at an affordable price starting from ¥29,800.
Once you have picked some share houses, especially if you are already in Japan,
you should schedule an appointment to visit the rooms you are interested in.
That could be valuable as pictures on the share houses' real estate agencies' website can be outdated.
You might also find that you don't like how the room looks like.
You should take advantage of that visit in order to ask the manager of the share house you are visiting about the house, the shared space accommodations and rules as well as the tenants.
All of that should be valuable information for you in order to make your choice easier !
Finally, you should take advantage of the time you are spending in the share house to get to know the city, the culture and the society better.
For example, when I first moved in Japan, I moved to a share house as that option was a god sent.
I took that time to ease myself in slowly into living in Japan and to get to know the city better.
Because of that, I got to know which areas are more strategically placed to the areas I frequent and I managed to move into a cheaper apartments afterwards.
Even if there are long-term share house tenants, most of the tenants move out after a year or two,
in their own apartments or away from the country if they came to Japan for a short period of time.
Should You Move Into A Share House?
I think that living in a share house can offer multiple opportunities for anybody that freshly moves here;
it can ease you into the Japanese society bit by bit and offer you assistance during the initial period.
It can also help you create your first network of friends and offer you the first glimpse of the Japanese society !
It comes to you to make the best of it !
If you want to move out of a share house into your own apartment, be sure to check our guide about moving procedures .