Getting an apartment as a gaijin is a bit trickier than I expected. Barring the language, there are so many little details to consider. If you are ever interested in moving to Tokyo, here are a few key pieces of advice you’ll need to have under your belt:
1. Speak Japanese.
2. Don’t have a cat.
3. Shrink yourself.
And when I say “little” I mean you’ll have to get used to the idea of small spaces.
My apartment in Shanghai was fairly sizeable. I got used to a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment overlooking Xujiahui. I was paying around $2000 for about 170 sq/m, and yeah that was a deal. For almost the same amount of money, we’re tucking into a 47 sq/m box. And that’s pretty reasonable.
There are plenty of nice, small places to be had, for sure. But when you say you have a cat in tow, your options become severely limited.
Basically, the landscape looks like this:
It's also tough to find a good place in Tokyo now because so many people move this time of year. In Japan, April is the end of the fiscal year, so people find out a) they have a new job because of a re-org b) they have a better job because they got a promotion or c) they have no job. So there’s movement.
Luckily, Ann and I landed in Shimokitazawa, a super cool neighborhood just 15 minutes from Shibuya. It’s full of awesome. Even among the sea of cool places to live in Tokyo, Shimo is quite unique: it has a village vibe with an almost painful hipster sheen, but it’s actually a lot less pretentious than it seems. It’s pretty real. (Ok fine, Bear Pond Espresso is painfully hip. But it’s because they care, man.)
The view from our place is spectacular:
The neighborhood is awesome:
There’s so much more to explore and to share, but we are quite happy to finally be here.