A collection of the top tips from the team at BFF Tokyo to find a sharehouse in Tokyo. This article should help, advise and guide on how to relocate. You might be thinking about relocating to Japan, Tokyo - You’ve seen the bright lights on instagram, seen the adverts, might have even seen Ghost in a Shell and was like wow! Some of you might have seen the food being offered such as blue ramen offered from Kipposhi in Shibuya but whatever the reason is, some of the seasoned travelers will know living in a foreign country can be a very stressful process.
No language ability? prepare yourself!
The process of moving and relocating to a country where you don’t speak the language is especially stressful so be sure to get as much practice as you can! If you are a beginner check out JapanSwitch (they offer online lessons too!). This guide about sharehouses in Tokyo should help you with the decision making process and hopefully our advice will make sure you nail the house on your first go!
Before we get into the main bulk of sharehouses in Tokyo, let’s start with what a sharehouse is and why you should live there.
A sharehouse is a house where multiple strangers or friends live together. This concept isn’t native to Japan but it is prevalent in Japan where house prices can very expensive. We’ll get more into that later on in the article so read through!
Is it a popular choice?
In a survey with one of the best rated Eikaiwa in Tokyo (according to glassdoor), roughly 97% of their teachers who are or were on the Working Holiday visa have lived in a sharehouse at one point during their stay. It was usually for at least the first 2-3 months of their visit to Japan.
So what is it?
Typically they are a big house that is split up into many rooms. Sometimes, depending on the price and location, it may be in a mansion (mansion is a flat for you British folk and apartment/condominium for you Americans).
If you are a couple and interested in a sharehouse, there are some places that offer rooms for you. Usually they will charge you an extra 10,000 - 20,000yen. Be sure that everything is explicit otherwise with the mixture of miscommunication and time crunch, you might end up with 2 separate rooms!
Have a valid residency visa for Japan. This does not include tourist visas.
If you are looking for types of visas and how to obtain them or if you’re eligible for any - check out our thorough read here
Initial fees or deposits
The initial fees from share house to share house will always vary but almost all will look roughly like this:
Deposit - from 15,000yen up until 3 months rent.
Cleaning fee - A cleaning fee is usually withdrawn from the deposit when it is returned. Sometimes if you stay in a room for over a year, they will waive the cleaning fee (granted you haven’t turned your room into that one scene from the warriors)
Guarantor fee - 10,000 - 20,000
This is probably something that doesn’t exist in many countries. It is someone or, more recently an organisation, that the company can pester when you don’t pay the bills, break something or run away.
That's not fair.. I won't do that
You might be thinking, “Well, I won’t do that! So, can I just not pay this?” Unfortunately, everyone has to pay. Even those with a Japanese passport will have to pay - though for those people it is usually cheaper or less of a hassle. There’s definitely a history of people coming to Japan and just leaving, to return home without any notice due to how elongated the process can be.
It is a requirement
It is a must for most places where you decide to live. This includes sharehouse and apartments.
Most of the teachers responded that it was a cheap/affordable option because they weren’t familiar with Japan. They also said that greatly helped them get together their finances, save money as well as get used to living in Japan.
“I wasn’t even sure if Tokyo was the place I wanted to stay!”
(you can read more about Jet’s experience here LINK)
One thing that might help you make the decision is, unlike an apartment rental which are usually 2 year contracts, the contracts for sharehouses in Tokyo are between 1-3 months in length. That means you’re not locked into an apartment, weeping for your losses if you’ve made the wrong sharehouse choice!
We’ll break down the costs and give examples for the sharehouses that have been recommended to us, starting with the cheapest options. If you’re not familiar with the Tokyo wards, it’s time to open a separate tab so you can quickly google it!
*Main hubs being Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Ueno
Outside of central Tokyo; 30-40 minutes to the main hubs*.
Price range: 50,000 - 70,000yen per month. (usually this includes 10,000-15,000 for utilities)
The places that you would be interested in living in, and where a majority of the teachers said they first lived in:
Adachi City - Kosuge, Gotanno, Ayase, Takenotsuka, Nishiarai (Northern outskirt of Tokyo)
Itabashi City - Narimasu, Tobu-Nerima, Tokiwadai (northern tokyo area)
Saitama City - Kawagoe (northern & technically no longer Tokyo, it is Saitama)
Katsushika City - Shin-Koiwa, Koiwa (eastern outskirt of Tokyo)
Edogawa City - Funabori (eastern outskirt of Tokyo)
A cheap sharehouse in Tokyo will usually have the very basic furniture you can expect in a room. You shouldn’t expect any luxury furniture there! Living in a cheap sharehouse in Tokyo usually included a small desk, a lamp, a somewhat comfortable bed (questionable). The size of the room will often vary but if it helps, it usually could fit 2 single beds... at most. That’s without any space to move, again, don’t expect luxury!
Here is what you can expect in the rest of the house
Again, it varies house to house. Even the cheapest option usually has a decent kitchen! A western toilet, often with a bidet and a living room of sorts. Overall the defining factor whether the house is good is the management and good housemates!
Now, onto the midrange - expensive range.
Outside of central Tokyo; 15-35 minutes to the main hubs*.
Price range: 70,000 - 95,000yen per month. (usually this includes 10,000-15,000 for utilities)
The places that you would be interested in living in, and where a majority of the teachers said they first lived in:
Suginami - Ogikubo, Koenji
Shinjuku - Shinjuku, Shin-okubo,
Toshima - Ikebukuro
Nerima - Nerima
Adachi - Kita-Senju
Here is what you can expect in your single room
Usually living in a sharehouse in Tokyo around this price range will include a mini-fridge in your room, multiple windows (if you’re lucky)! Soundproof or at least a semi-soundproof room. Depending on what area, you may even have a private en-suite bathroom or at least a toilet. The furniture will again include a desk, but this time a bigger one than before. A small TV, Lamp and a wardrobe is to also be expected!
Here is what you can expect in the rest of the house
In Tokyo, if you find a sharehouses around this range you will definitely see a difference compared to the cheaper options. At this range you could start seeing a pool table, karaoke rooms and a big kitchen. It really depends on where you chose your location and the company that you chose!
Rules become stricter in Sharehouses around Tokyo when you start looking at the mid-range price. Companies become less and less lenient once the price starts to go up. The reason being that everyone is paying a premium so a lot of the bad experiences that you may experience are minimised.
No overnight guests or a flat fee of 5,000yen per night!
Price of Sharehouse
Typical room space
Typical contract lengths
Yes, for a fee
Yes, for a fee
That’s all the technical stuff out of the way.
While sharehouses exist all over the country of Japan, a main bulk of them are located in Tokyo. For a good reason too, the prices in Tokyo are greatly higher than outside of Tokyo, in Chiba for example. This causes some of the Japanese locals to live really far and a great many of them spend up to an hour on their commute into Tokyo.
This understandably forces some people into living in really expensive apartments or into sharehouses! This is a good opportunity for them as well as you. Living with a Japanese person for the most part will also give you an insight into their culture, work-life balance and uh, maybe their eating habits. (Please don’t stalk them!)
A good balance
The great thing about this arrangement and the sharehouses that market this is that they will try to maintain a good balance. While my sharehouse was not particularly one of those sharehouses, it did have a really good balance. Out of the 11 rooms available, 5 were foreigners and 6 were Japanese.
My experience with this ratio was amazing, especially when it came to buying food. I spent 2 months in Japan only cooking and eating soba. Yes, that’s weird, I know. The only time I ate rice was when I went to the local Japanese Curry restaurant.
The only reason I was forced to do this was because I couldn’t understand all the Japanese. I was used to the rice bags back home looking very different so half the time I couldn’t even register what a rice bag looked like! The other time I saw so many variations in the rice that I couldn’t understand why they had so many! Some aren’t pre-washed, some are washed but are from Saitama (I don’t know what the difference is!). It finally dawned to me that I could just ask, lo and behold, a few hours after I asked - I had a beautiful 2KG bag of rice.
Not into Rice?
Even if you aren’t into rice, you will receive many important letters in the months following your first. Mainly things to do with your insurance, MyNumber, maybe pension & credit card too. Sometimes that extra help could save you the stress.
Now, don’t go thinking every person in a sharehouse wants to socialise. As not everyone was a social creature and just wanted to be left alone. We’ll talk more about that further below but you’ll have great experiences and some not so great experiences. This is all part of the trade that you get for living in a sharehouse. But before we get to that let’s quickly talk about renting an apartment in Tokyo
We talked about the reasons why you would move in to a sharehouse in Tokyo. Let’s quickly talk about the reasons why you wouldn’t move into one.
The cheaper the location, the more likely you will experience noise complaints against you or be the one handing out complaints to other people! I’ve heard many stories and experienced it myself where hearing your room neighbour having sex is a common weekly occurance. Alternatively the 2AM solo parties are also a relatively normal thing.
Not everyone is aware of the mess they leave behind and sometimes, they just don’t care. I’m sure some of you might have read about bad roommates, if you haven’t - you are definitely in a good position. Trust me, I've been scarred by some of the stories I’ve read.
Things like dishes being left unwashed, pieces of rice or crumbs on the tables. Maybe even knives and forks with food stuck on them - are unfortunately things you see often.
Oblivious to mess
Sometimes it’s just people didn’t realise the mess they made, they left in a hurry or they’ve adopted an attitude that is similar to “It’s not my house, I’m only here for a few months, maybe the cleaner will clean it”
Personally, I’ve seen used underwear on the stairs. The item of clothing belonged to a larger male, the only one in the share house. The underwear stayed there for a week and a half before a cleaner came to dispose of it. Believe me, they were definitely used.
This one might irritate you more than you might think, I know it did for me. If you’re a person who cooks a lot, or likes to customise their meal you might be in for some trouble. Living in a sharehouse in Tokyo, my advice is to search for a smaller one instead.
The shared kitchen means you might not always be able to cook what you want, when you want. Sometimes I had to wait for like an hour to cook what I wanted. Sometimes you might find someone who tries to cook at the same time as you! I don’t know about you guys but that doesn’t sound like a good time.
Okay this one really depends on the place you live in and the tenants of the place you live in. Sometimes you might find that everyone respects everyone’s items but it’s not always the case. Things go missing, things get opened and moved. The worst things that might happen usually is when people leave ...uh rotting food… in the fridge. The smell is enough to make the cake you’ve been saving, revolting.
Another problem you might have is space. The space is often very small because the fridge is shared with at least 4 other occupants. This sometimes makes meal prep, hard! I know it definitely killed my ambition to cook as I couldn’t store multiple meals at once. If I made a big pot of curry that’s all I had to eat for a week, needless to say I probably had more food in the freezer than I’m willing to admit.
Shared toilets, bathroom
The teachers of OCE have said some of their biggest annoyance when living in their sharehouses have usually involved the toilets. Whether it be that the other tenants always take an hour shower, people always using their shampoo or skid marks. You are guaranteed to experience something that will make you question everyone's sanity.
In my experience, it wasn’t an issue until one person stopped doing it and it all went downhill from there. The bathroom’s rule has always been, remove your own hair after use. For the first 5 months living in a sharehouse, this wasn’t an issue! Everyone picked up after themselves, that’s until roommate X moved in.
Flaws and all
X wasn’t specifically a bad person but he definitely had his habits. One time he came to the rescue by removing the overgrown cockroach in the living room, the downside? He left the corpse and the juices there on the wall and just left.
Well X, I and a few others shared a bathroom. The hairs started to pile up, he had long ginger hair so it was easy to discern who it was. Another room mate left a note on the bathroom door. It was ignored. A few weeks this goes on and the water is no longer fast draining, now it pools up.
Personal footbath, yay!
We get our own personal footbath everytime we take a shower! It took multiple notices from the managing company, house leader and notes to fix the issue. (It wasn’t really fixed but it was more bearable than before)
Living in close quarters with someone will allow you a peek into their life that not many people get to see. Whether it be baggy sweats, no make-up or people’s hole riddled sock, there’s no denying you end up bonding with the people at your sharehouse. Sometimes this bond turns into somewhat of a convenient romance.
Sharehouse romances have a high % of ending up terrible. If you are part of the romance it’s great, you get to spend all the time together. However, if you’re another roommate, you soon become afraid of using the sofa because the couple are cuddling on the communal sofa.
Some people avoid this all together by going into women only sharehouses. Sorry guys, there isn’t a men only sharehouse.
The very short answer might be just to say impatient people. However there are so many factors to consider when answering this question. Needless to say that you need patience if you are to be living in a sharehouse for an extended period of time. There will be things that some days will seem like the biggest issue in the world and then wake up realising that it wasn’t a big issue at all.
Try be stay positive!
If you can’t adopt an attitude that assumes everyone does is non-malicious, you will end up paranoid. Everything that happens in the house will affect your experience if you start to think everything is malicious. Most of the time people are just trying to live their own lives without affecting others, sometimes it does affect others and if it affects yours - give them a friendly reminder!
Patience and the willingness to let things go
Remember the roommate I mentioned, X? Well let me introduce another sharehouse inhabitant, Alex. She was shy but generally speaking, she used to like spending time with people in the communal area. Notice how I mentioned it in the past tense? One day while cooking pasta, during the rainy season, she decided to bring in her laundry. Mind you it’s only 15-20 steps away to the door, she thought it was definitely not a hazard.
Have you met X?
Enter X, he doesn’t see anyone in the living room so he quickly turned off the stove. He also left a note, asking the supposed chef to be careful. Alex came back, unaware that the stove had been turned off and no X in sight. She spent another 5-10 minutes waiting for the pasta to finish boiling, except… it wasn’t. With her having to prepare to go to work, she no longer had time to cook the pasta and was visibly upset. If this was the first time, it might have been okay but as you can imagine, small things like this add up all the time.
After this, and of course a few other things, we saw less and less of Alex. Eventually, she moved out and didn’t tell anyone about it.
Best advice if you’re in Alex’s shoes? Learn from the mistakes or assumptions, and communicate the issues you have with people you live with.
No confidence to communicate
Reading that last section might have left you with a hint about the next section. If you aren’t a confident communicator, I don’t recommend you move into a sharehouse for a long period of time. Maybe a short stay might be more fitting in this case.
A tip that I’d like to depart on you for communication is not focus on the negatives. Make sure the person coming away from the interview isn’t feeling bad about what has happened or bad about how you feel. Offering help is also a good way to communicate a problem too.
It can be the difference between
Hi, you stole my food. Stop touching my food, get your own.
Hey, I think you might be using my hot sauce. I could tell you where to get it so you can have your very own, if you like?
Notice how there was also a solution or a suggestion mentioned there?
To understand this you may need a quick read of our credit cards in japan article. Japanese banking systems work very differently to what you may be used to.
Thinking about paying with paypal? Forget about it. Paypal isn’t used much here.
Thinking about paying with your international card? Forget about it.
Most banking here works only nationally. What this means is that you need a japanese bank card, specifically a cash card. A cash card is only used for… cash. You receive, withdraw and transfer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a chip so you cannot use it for payments online.
Be prepared to make one of these or always pay in cash, in person.
Once you’ve sorted out your place to stay, there’s a very important step that you need to take. You need to go to the local ward office and let them know that you are a resident of their ward.
You MUST let them know within 14 days or it will cause complications later on.
If you’ve just arrived, you may not have an address on your card. Thinking about getting a phone number in Japan? You need an address on your card.
Thinking about opening a bank account in Japan? You need that address on your card.
The trip may take up to 2 hours depending on how busy the office is. Once you register with them, you’ll also receive a MyNumber card soon. All these technicalities will be left for another article!
The great thing about living in a sharehouse is that moving out is relatively easy and painless. Gather your belongings, tell your management company 1 month beforehand. Once that’s all done, all there is left is to grab a certificate of moving from the ward office. Bring that to the NEW ward office of the location you’ll be moving to and you’ll also get an updated stamp of residence on your card.
That’s all there is to understand about Sharehouses in Tokyo.
Prices will fluctuate depending on your budget or ideal hub station. If you have OCD about cleanliness or aren’t much of a team player - maybe if you don’t like cleaning, you’re better off without a sharehouse. However one thing you can do, to help make your decision is to visit our article on how to find, move and be comfortable in a normal apartment instead.
If you still feel like going into a sharehouse, consider a very short term stay. Regardless of what your plans are, you need to be on a valid residency visa. Students, Dependents and Designated Activities are completely fine.
Once you’ve got your sharehouse in Tokyo, make sure to visit the ward office to notify the local authorities of where you are living. You need to do so within 14 days.
Fret not, as a small reward I’ll let you in on a little secret that helped me in a time of need during my first year in Japan. Even if you are on a tourist visa, this option will definitely still be something you can consider. They are called “short-term furnished apartments” and unlike apartments, they actually come ready for you to live in. Granted, they are slightly more expensive and aren’t quite as affordable as a sharehouse but it is still an option to consider. Especially since you know what is still slowly spreading. You can stay in one of these if you get stuck in Japan on a tourist visa and can’t stay in a sharehouse.
To sharehouse or to not
Would I recommend living in a sharehouse? Yes. It’s a great money saving alternative that will allow you to get a better grasp of the currency and what exactly you want in an apartment. More importantly, it’s a great way to know if you want to spend the whole stay in Tokyo or if you would prefer to live in the countryside.
Just enjoy your time!
As many people come to Tokyo, there’s a big percentage of them who leave very quickly. Sometimes the reason has to do finance, sometimes it’s commitment to a city that they didn’t enjoy. Hopefully after reading this, you can make a better decision so you end up discovering all the small eateries in the alleyways that tourists don’t go to! You can only find those places with local knowledge, finance and the stress free mind-frame that comes with that!
Have fun, stay safe and make sure to be a team player!
You can expect to move in to your room at the Tokyo sharehouse sometime between the day you sign the lease for the sharehouse room and 1 day after signing the lease. By renting a room in a sharehouse, you can expect to move into the capital of Japan as soon as possible; the exact time you are allowed to move in is dependent on the sharehouse in Tokyo.
(Ask Questions, Give Rent, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to have a manager. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to go to the manager of the sharehouse if you have any questions related to the contract stipulations or the rules of the sharehouse from which you are renting a room. You can expect, also, the sharehouse manager to be the one you make monthly rent payments to during the duration of your stay in the Tokyo sharehouse.
(Play Board Games, Do Chores, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to have an assorted variety of tenants. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to meet tenants who play board games with others staying in the sharehouse or properly do chores assigned by the sharehouse; the exact way good tenants may affect the quality of your stay depends on the tenants who are staying together with you in the sharehouse.
(Dining Table, Couch etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to include furnishings. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to expect an assortment of furnishings to be included by the sharehouse. The standard appliances in a Tokyo sharehouse include a washing machine, furnished living & dining room common areas, and an outfitted kitchen in the common area. Extra items for your room beyond a bed & desk will cost extra.
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to have an assorted variety of tenants. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to meet tenants who are locals and experience an opportunity to immerse yourself culturally by interacting with those tenants ; the exact amount of cultural immersion you experience during your stay depends on the tenants who are staying together with you in the sharehouse.
(No Sleepovers, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to offer stipulations on the contract you sign for your room in the sharehouse. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are required to follow the stipulations throughout the duration of your stay. You can expect the following sort of stipulations to be written on the contract for your new home in the capital of Japan, including a 30 min time limit for baths in the common bathroom:
- No Shoes in Washing Machine
- No Over-Night Guests
- 30 Min Baths
- 30 Min Bath-time Limit
- After Use, Clean Rice Cooker
(Loud Music, Singing in the Shower, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to have poor sound proofing in the building of the sharehouse. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to listen to other tenants singing in the common bathroom's shower or playing loud music in private rooms of the sharehouse; the exact way poor sound-proofing may affect the quality of your stay depends on the tenants who are staying together with you in the sharehouse.
(Sexual Harassment, Skipping Chores, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to have an assorted variety of tenants. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to meet tenants who sexually harass others staying in the sharehouse or skip out on doing assigned sharehouse in the sharehouse; the exact way poor behavior may affect the quality of your stay depends on the tenants who are staying together with you in the sharehouse.
(Private Kitchen & Bathroom, etc...)
The private rooms are an option Tokyo sharehouses may offer you. Private rooms are rated at a higher price point because of the privacy the rooms offer you in the sharehouse. If the private room boasts a private bathroom for personal use, or a kitchenette for personal use, the monthly rent will reflect the added amenities that accompany your new living accommodations.
Shared & Semi-Private Rooms
The shared rooms and semi-private rooms are an option a sharehouse in Tokyo may offer you, too, but are rented to more than one tenant and a small storage space is provided for all of the roommates. The main difference between a shared and semi-private room is that the semi-private room will provide divider between the beds for each tenant in the room.
Compartment & Dormitory
(Bunk Beds, etc...)
The least expensive option in a Tokyo sharehouse are the compartment and dormitory rooms. You can expect the compartment rooms to be reminiscent of a capsule hotel, while the dormitory rooms feature bunk beds to the multiple tenants in the Tokyo sharehouse to sleep in and a security container for tenants renting the room. The maximum occupancy for a compartment room is a total of 4 tenants.
You can expect NOT to pay water, gas, WiFi fees when renting a room in the Ladies-Only sharehouse. By renting a room the Ladies-Only sharehouse, you are saving yourself about 3,000 yen on move-in costs and about 15,000 yen monthly on utilities. You can expect to pay an estimated amount of 60,000 on monthly rent, and at the same time, you can expect the sharehouse to be ladies-only as implied by the name.
You can expect to pay an estimated amount of 63,000 to 77,000 yen monthly when renting a room in the sharehouse owned by the Oakhouse company. By renting a room in the Oakhouse sharehouse, you can expect to have the ability to choose between a couple's private room and a private room for singles, and at the same time, you an enjoy breathtaking views in Shinjuku.
You can expect to pay an estimated amount of 50,000 yen monthly when renting a room in the Kagurazaka Flat sharehouse. By renting a room in the Kagurazaka Flat sharehouse, you can expect the 9 floors of the sharehouse to be divided by gender, and at the same time, for all of the rooms offered by the Kagurazaka Flat sharehouse to be semi-private. You can expect the Kagurazaka Flat sharehouse NOT to offer private rooms.
(Gaming Consoles, Pool Table, etc...)
You can expect sharehouses in Tokyo to include the following sort of amenities: gaming consoles or a pool table in the common area, condiments in the shared kitchen provided by the sharehouse, special events organized by the sharehouse, and even a gym or movie room for all of the tenants occupying the sharehouse in Tokyo. The exact amenity depends on the sharehouse from which you are renting a room.
You can expect the size of the apartment to be measured in Jo units. Jo units of measurement are based on tatami sizing, and you can expect the average tatami size to be 1.65 sqm. The size of a furnished apartment in Tokyo may, for example, be measured as 50 Jo. You can expect the apartment to fit about 50 tatami mats on the flooring of the furnished apartment, making the apartment approximately 82.65 sqm in size.
|13.5-24.0 sqm||13.5-24.0 sqm||19.44 sqm|
You can expect to move into your new room in a Tokyo sharehouse sometime between the day you sign the lease for the sharehouse room and 1 day after signing the lease. By renting a room in a Tokyo sharehouse, you can expect to move into your new home in the capital of Japan as soon as possible; the exact time you are allowed to move in is dependent on the agency that you are renting the room from in Tokyo.
You can expect the lease for your sharehouse room to have a minimum stay stipulation of about 3-12 months. By moving into a Tokyo sharehouse, you are able to rent a room for less than a year; the exact amount of minimum time you are legally obligated to rent your room in a sharehouse is dependent on the agency you are renting the room from in Tokyo. You can expect to stay in a sharehouse room for as little as 3 months.
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