So you got your student visa now, but are you aware of the trouble that comes after it?
Have you ever thought of how much rent you’d be paying for your accommodation in Japan? How about the documents and things you need if you’re planning to get an apartment for yourself? Did you know that you’ll be paying thrice the amount of your rent on the first month of your stay?
This week’s topic is about the different housing options available for international students here in Japan. John and Eli, our summer hosts, makes sure to go into detail about the advantages and disadvantages for each type of housing so that you don’t empty your bank accounts and regret your decision!
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What are the different types of housing in Japan?
Eli: “What are the different types of housing or accommodations available for students living in Japan? There are five types of accommodations. We have dorms, which is what university students often choose. Share-houses, it’s a place where you share a house with at least 5-7 people with common areas like the bathroom and the kitchen. Homestays are living with a Japanese family for a year or two years, depends on you. Apartments are where you live alone. “
John: “If you want to.” (laughs)
Eli: “We also have mansions. They’re basically high-end apartments built around 2000’s so its actually better in quality.”
Eli: “There are advantages and disadvantages for each type. John?”
John: “First let’s talk about dorms. For students like me and Eli, we don’t live in dorms but we recommend it to you guys the most because, you’ll feel safer in it. This is because usually these dorms are provided by your host universities. It’s also usually cheaper than living alone and finding an apartment. Apart from that, if you go to dorms, you’re with people who are in the same university as you, sometimes even the same department, so you usually get to know a lot of people as well along the way.”
John: “I guess the disadvantages of living in a dorm depends on what kind of dorm it is. Sometimes the dorm is like one room shared with four people. So it’s not for people who like to live alone, or don’t like to live with many people. But still, if you’re planning to make a lot of connections along the way, then a dorm is a very good decision.”
John: “Next is a share-house. It can be defined in different ways. I myself live in a share-house, but it’s just a regular apartment. The reason why we call it a share-house is literally because I share it with two other people. There are also other places in Tokyo where there’s this huge house and there are a lot of people living in there. There’s a public bathroom, which of course all of you share as well. The advantages, it’s pretty much the same as dorms. You can make friends along the way. If you’re the type to feel lonely, or for those of you out there who easily feel homesick, then I guess it would be a good option. These houses are mostly occupied by foreigners or international students. I’ve rarely heard of Japanese people who live in these kind of houses.”
Eli: “For people who want to live alone, but want to experience Japanese culture. I suggest you stay in a homestay. “
John: “It’s not living alone.”(laughs)
Eli: “I mean you live alone because you get your own room. Okay yeah, you don’t live alone but basically you get to live with a Japanese family. You get to actually make your Japanese better if you live with them. They give you free meals. Not technically free, but it all comes in one whole package when you pay your host family. To put it simply, you’re paying for food, your room, and the utilities.”
Eli: “As for the disadvantages, a lot of the home-stays I know are really far. They would be far from your schools, typically. Also, they have a lot of rules that are strict. I’ve heard of someone who couldn’t actually leave the house after 8 PM. So I guess those are the disadvantages.”
John: “So for you guys out there, you definitely need to know the rules and manners in Japanese culture. Especially when you’re with a Japanese family. Of course you just pay your host family and usually they make your food for you, they give you accommodation, they take you out to places as well. Of course since you’re living with them, it’s not like you can just freeload off of them. Although you still pay, expect yourself to do a bit of cleaning, washing the dishes. Maybe you can prepare the meals sometimes too. I know a few people who go to host families and they have a good time there.”
Eli: “I want to stay in a host family too. But i live in an apartment…. A mansion exactly. Apartments and mansions are usually different Japan. Apartments are usually older.”
John: “At most, they’d be three storeys.”
Eli: “The material that the building is made out of, it’s not as good as the one used for mansions. But because of this, apartments are cheaper compared to mansions. Since mansions are more modern, they’re more expensive.”
John: “For mansions, you usually expect more security right? Mansions can also go up to more than 10 floors.”
Eli: “These type of accommodations, they’re good for people who want to live alone. It depends if you want to save.”
John: “It’s really costly if you want to live in mansions. Usually for international students who want to save up, they opt for dorms, because it’s close to their universities. If you want to live in an apartment, then the choice is basically up to you. If you want to live in the center of Tokyo, it’s gonna be expensive, but you get to choose where you want to live. If you want to opt for something cheap, you can be farther from the center of Tokyo. Whether it’s gonna be expensive or time and cost-effective for you, it’s up to your choice.”
Eli: “Usually, the accommodations that we mentioned earlier are already furnished. But for apartments and mansions, they aren’t provided so you buy them.”
John: “It doesn’t have to be new, there are places in Tokyo which sell secondhand furniture. If your school has a community big enough then there should be students out there who sell their furnitures. Especially exchange students who’ve only been here for a year.”
Eli: “So I guess that’s the disadvantages for apartments and mansions.”
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