The Hidden Side of Sharehouses in Japan: An Interview
Updated: Mar 20
As you begin your house search for your big move to Japan you may have (definitely) came across the option of living in a sharehouse. Being a popular option for foreigners when moving to Japan, we are going to share more about the hidden side of living in a sharehouse in Japan. Today we will be interviewing one of our amazing Homekuru staff about their experiences with moving to Japan and more specifically what it has been like trying to find her home here in Tokyo.
After our last interview with co-founder Henry Knight (check it out here!) about why renting a home in Japan is difficult we understand why people may have to go with the sharehouse option. Hence why Homekuru is here to tackle the barrier that foreigners face in terms of renting in Japan.
Sharehouses are popular for their affordability and convenience but there is a hidden side as discovered from speaking to many people who experienced living in a sharehouse, read on to find out from our team member who has been living in Tokyo since 2018.
Our team member whom we interviewed will be kept anonymous for privacy reasons.
Interviewer: Hi! Thank you for taking the time out to do an interview about your sharehouse experience in Japan. From Henry’s interview, we saw how difficult it is for foreigners to rent in Japan so today we want to find out more about the alternatives to the actual renting route. Could you start off by introducing yourself, your background and language skills?
Team member: Hi! I’m **** and I have been living in Japan for almost two years now. When I moved to Japan, I had already passed JLPT N3 as I self-studied at home, but now I am pretty skilled in Japanese and can read books/newspapers and speak without any issues.
Interviewer: What made you want to move to Japan?
Team member: I’ve always enjoyed visiting Japan and had thought of moving to Asia for a while until I decided to take the plunge. Because I already had friends in Japan through my connections in art or just friends who moved over to teach English and work here.
Interviewer: What were your expectations of finding accommodation before moving here?
Team member: I didn’t really have many expectations besides the fact that it should be easy to find an apartment…since I am from ***** where there aren’t very many affordable apartments available, e.g. compared to looking at houses in the US, housing in Japan seems way cheaper and more choice.
Interviewer: So then after moving, how did it match your expectations?
Team member: After contacting a few estate agents I started to realize it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. For example, for arriving into Japan I would have to have a temporary place to stay because I’d need to view the apartment and do all the paperwork in person, so I booked a temporary apartment for a month. Then after arriving in Japan, during my research, it surprised me that I wouldn’t be able to pay rent as easily as I thought through my home bank account (where all my funds were kept). That is when I discovered the sharehouse option. I found a sharehouse where electricity, water, and internet would be included in the rent fee, so I took the plunge and decided to try living in a sharehouse for six months first instead of going down the traditional route. The biggest reason for this decision the convenience of payment through my American bank account.
Interviewer: How long did you end up living in a sharehouse?
Team member: Until October last year..so like 1.5 years, much longer than I planned for!
Interviewer: Why did you end up staying in the sharehouse longer than planned?
Team member: On my part is was mostly due to laziness. Renting in Japan is a long process (up to 3 months) and I know not a lot of apartments accept people on a student visa in Japan due to the length of the visa not being 2 years. I also knew that my partner was going to be moving over to Japan on a work visa so it would have been better to wait until he moved over so we can split the cost of an apartment and also it would be easier due to his work contract.
Interviewer: What was it like living in a sharehouse?
Team member: At first living in a sharehouse was quite fun as I became friends with a few of the other residents. I feel that the enjoyment of a sharehouse really depends on who is living there with you, because if you get some who may not clean up after themselves then the experience is not as pleasant. You also may live with some awesome people but usually, those who live in sharehouses are just there for a short period of time, so when you feel like you get to know someone that time is short-lived and it ends up sometimes feeling like a hostel.
There were also things such as people not washing up their dishes or cleaning their mess after themselves which got very frustrating. One time the bins were overflowing so much there ended up being a cockroach infestation which was not cool at all. I ended up being less sociable in the sharehouse the longer I lived there and just generally got annoyed at the situation. I also then found out that in comparison to the apartment in the area I was living in, my rent was actually going at 1.5x – 2x the market rate which made me even more fed up.
Interviewer: Overall how would you describe the experience?
Team member: In all honesty, I didn’t have the greatest experience with living in a sharehouse, I would recommend people who move to Japan to use it short term whilst looking for a more permanent option in terms of accommodation.
However, it is a great way to meet friends/connections when you first move to Japan and if you are looking for temporary accommodation I definitely recommend it!
At Homekuru we are committed to changing the way you rent in Japan and by further understanding the difficulties that people face when renting a property in the country we are another step closer to bettering that experience.
What are your experiences with sharehouses if you have ever lived in one in Japan?
Until next week...
The Homekuru Editorial Team