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What to Expect From Apartments in Japan
The Average Apartment
From personal experience most of the ALTs I know here have an apartment that is between 25 and 35 square meters or between 270 and 380 square feet and are furnished. Typically, a furnished apartment has a washing machine, some sparse furniture, and a small fridge freezer, and a stove top but no oven. You probably will not have a dryer so you'll need clothing hangers. Additionally, be prepared that if your apartment building is less than 4 floors tall you probably will not have an elevator.
Getting an apartment. Furnished or Unfurnished?
When you go to Japan, you may not be quite sure what to expect as far as apartments go. The first thing that may make or break your apartment experience is whether or not you go with a furnished apartment.
While you may save money on monthly rent with an unfurnished apartment please keep in mind when they save unfurnished, they mean you will get an empty room.In Japan, an unfurnished apartment typically does not include an A/C device, light fixtures, a refrigerator, a bed, a TV, or any sort of furniture.
If you are able, I would opt for a furnished apartment like a Leo Palace. Personally, my monthly rent comes out to about 52,000 yen per month or about 470 USD a month total. The TV, A/C, and internet come included. The apartment also came with a small fridge/freezer, a stove top, and a microwave.
On Move In Day
After I settled In
Your Apartment: What Features Should You Expect
My apartment in particular is a little on the larger side, but to give you an idea of how big it is it's about 350 sq feet from my rough measurements. That does not include the small balcony that I use to hang up my clothes to dry. The kitchens are typically small and lack counter space, and many small kitchens do not have an oven.
I have a small closet area, a small kitchen nook, and a washing machine. My bathroom has a shower and spacious tub.
Most places that I have seen have a shower and a tub. The washing machine can be a bit difficult to navigate at first as well as the washing machine. Typically, you will not get a dryer.
If you have a LEO Palace like I do, then typically you get a small TV that you setup with LEO NET for your internet and TV. You typically will also get either a small table or desk, an A/C unit, a small fridge/freezer, and a washing machine for furnished units. I highly recommend looking for a LEO Palace if you have that option available to you.
As for security, Japan is pretty safe overall. I personally know friends and I myself have forgotten to lock the door before for the entire day and no one breaks into your home or takes anything. However, if safety is important to you, most places have a security system on the wall. You can press a button to talk to the person at your door and even see them through a camera.
Finally, you will typically have a small mailbox typically it's part of your front door to deposit mail. You will also have a place to put your shoes when you enter the house as well as a small shoe closet.
A Tour of my Apartment in Japan
Good Websites To Look For an Apartment
If you don't know a lot of Japanese, I highly recommend looking for a foreigner friendly apartment. Now, depending on the company you work for they may select an apartment for you.
Personally, my apartment is a Leopalace which was picked out by the company I am working for. However, if your company does not provide housing I recommend checking GaijinPot.
On GajinPot you can narrow down your search by size, price, furnished or unfurnished. You can narrow the search down by location and even whether you need a guarantor or if you can keep pets.
You can also search by distance from the station. I recommend looking for apartments near the station as the train is easier to navigate if you know very little Japanese, and it is a more convenient method of transport for many destinations. The best part is they will only show you foreigner friendly apartments.
The Big Surprise: Size
Next up, the size of your apartment.As you may be able to tell from the pictures, most apartment in Japan are fairly small. I would consider my apartment a little on the larger side for Japan. The average apartment size is just a little over 200 square feet. Mine is probably about 250 square feet.
It includes a small kitchenette, a sizable bathroom with the toilet and the washing area separated, a small balcony to hang clothes to dry because surprise. My apartment like many apartments here has a washer only. There's no dryer, but do not fear. Aside from rainy season the weather is pretty conducive to hanging your clothes out to dry.
The Kitchen. Small But Functional.
Depending on where you live, it's very likely that your kitchen will not have an oven. My kitchen is fairly small with just a two burner stove top, a kitchen sink, a microwave, and a small fridge freezer. I just have a small nook above the sink and some cabinets below for storage.
From what I have seen in the Leopalace, I personally only have two outlets and only enough room between the burner and the stove top for a small cutting board. I do not have much room for additionally appliances such as a rice cooker, toaster oven, or slow cooker. Be prepared to learn to cook primarily with a stove top.
Setting up the internet: LEO net
Now, to set up your internet, keep in mind you may want someone who speaks or reads Japanese to help if there is not an English guide available. You may also need a Japanese phone number to set up your internet. Depending on where you live, you may have an English guide for setting up the internet in your apartment.
Below are some pictures for how to use the Life Stick for Leonet and the English instructions I received for setting up the internet. The main thing to remember is do not forget your password.
Life Stick English Instructions
Leo Net English Instructions
Your A/C. A mystery I am slowly solving.
The A/C can be a bit difficult to figure out even with knowledge of katakana. The main things to focus on are the temperature, modes, and fan direction. Here are some basic kanji and katakana you may see on your remote:
Up= (Ue) 上
Input Timer= スタイマー
Air volume/Fan strength= 風量
Mode= (modo) モード
Right= (migi) 右
Left= (hidari) 左
My A/C remote
Bills. What to Expect and Where to Pay.
Depending on the area your rent and utilities may vary, but I will put my current costs in for my apartment. In the Moji area where I live, the rent for my apartment is about 52,000 including Leonet. This is considered on the higher end for apartments in the area. Typically an apartment will be somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 yen. My cost breakdown is as follows:
Rent and Internet= 52,000 yen
Electric= 3,000 to 5,000 yen per month
Water= 2,000 to 4,000 yen per month
Gas= 1,000 to 2,000 yen per month
NHK= about 2,500 yen every 2 months
Rent and Internet
Average Monthly Cost