Guide to Long Term Stays in Japan

Are you staying in Japan longer than just a short holiday? Why not consider a share house? They offer you convenience, affordability, and flexibility during your stay. As the number of people arriving in Japan has increased, so too has the house share market.

It’s important to know what’s available when you come to Japan to find a job, study abroad, or even just stay for an extended visit. It’s easier today than ever before to stay in Japan for long periods. Many visitors are eligible for an automatic 90 day visa upon arrival. And nationals from several countries are even able to double that to 180 days during their stay.

What is a share house?

A share house is precisely that: private rooms and shared bathrooms. Typically, shared houses have lower startup and monthly costs, which are attractive to many. The shared areas in such housing caries, but often includes kitchens, lounges, bathrooms, shower rooms, and sometimes entertainment halls.

Why consider living in a share house?

Accommodation can be a big cause for worry when staying abroad for an extended period:

  • Hotels are great but quickly become too expensive.
  • Capsule hotels can be fun at first but staying too long gets tiresome.
  • Internet cafes are a well-documented alternative backup for overnight stays, but lack facilities needed.
  • Dorms provided by some companies and schools may be restrictive or poorly located.
  • Homestays may put you with a family you might not have a good relationship with.
  • Renting an apartment often involves many setup costs, contracts and paperwork, not to mention high Japanese proficiency—and a lot of patience considering the difficulty of getting some landlords to accept foreign tenants. There are also furniture costs to consider, unless you get a serviced apartment—which comes at an even higher cost.

After all that, you might think that a shared house is the answer to all your worries—it’s convenient, affordable, and friendly.

Why are share houses appealing?

A wide variety of people are drawn to share houses. They are typically popular with students and working adults in their 20s and 30s.

There is usually a good selection of locations to choose from, depending on the company. And because of the recent popularity and demand from foreign residents, many share houses have English-speaking help available.

This type of housing can also appeal to those who enjoy the social side of having neighbors or a close community. After all, moving to another country is never easy on your social life.

How to decide if a share house is for you?

Pros of living in a share house

In addition to offering different types of housing, this is what sets share houses apart from other accommodation is its combination of high-quality facilities and affordable prices:

  • Facilities
    Rooms are often fully furnished, and some locations even include additional communal areas, like theater rooms, multi-purpose studios, and other special features. Home appliances such as a mini fridge and washing machines are often included. Some providers, like Oakhouse, even offer a car transfer between locations.
  • Free Internet
    You’ll find Wi-Fi in the shared spaces and LAN connections in the private rooms.
  • Affordable Rent
    Despite all those benefits and privileges, share house rental rates usually fall between 35,000 to 80,000 yen per month.
  • Utilities included
    Everything is in working order when you arrive, which isn’t common when renting an apartment.
  • Fewer Additional Fees
    Learning about all the various housing fees that Japan tends to put on the rental cost can offset a lot of people’s expectations. Even if you find that perfect house to rent, you might be looking at another one to three month’s rent on top of it. Share houses don’t include many of those additional fees.
    Think agency fees, key money, gift money, security deposits, rent deposits and the like (though negotiation is sometimes possible).
    Share houses have their own fee structure, but it is often a lot less to read and decipher—of course, always get confirmation on a final monthly payment before you sign a contract.
  • No Guarantor Required
    Many rental agencies require a guarantor, a willing family member or company, which is often improbable or not possible for foreigners in Japan.
  • Meet People
    A share house can be a great way to meet new people for many different walks of life.
  • Female only-properties
    Some share houses provide female-only housing to women as a means to offer extra security and peace of mind.

Cons of living in a share house

  • Less Privacy
    Shared facilities and the noise factor can be off-putting to some.
  • Space
    Share house rooms are usually the size of a small bedroom as space is a premium in Japan.
  • Neighbours
    Just as meeting new people may be a pro on this list, it can also be a con. You might not get along with people or there might not be many socializing areas.
  • Minimum tenancy
    Most share houses have a required minimum stay, usually at least one month.

How to choose a share house?

While shopping around you’ll want to consider many factors:

  • Location
    Location and transportation access will affect the price.
    • Decide how far you’re willing to live from work or school and search in that area.
    • New properties may be more attractive but remember to consider distance.
    • Access to convenience stores and supermarkets is an important point to remember.
    • Contract
  • Contract
    Read the contract carefully and make sure it’s all laid out and agreed upon. Know what kind of contract you’re signing (e.g. fixed term vs. regular rental), what fees are expected, the rules of living, and using the facilities.
  • Management
    It’s not always easy to figure out who the reliable management companies are. Some common indicators of a good company are responsiveness and property knowledge.
  • Rules
    Rules can vary from house to house. Many share houses in the growing market cater to a certain kind of renter and rules regarding friend or family visitation—especially staying over—may be important.
  • Viewing
    Before you decide, why not make an appointment for a viewing? This will give you a chance to check out the room, the people living there, and the area.

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