Osaka Area Guide – Housing Guide for Foreigners

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Osaka is the second largest metro area in Japan after Tokyo and has a large population of foreigners. It is known as "Japan's kitchen" for its lively food culture and for its friendly and casual vibe.

Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo and one of the largest in the world with a population of more than 19 million.

It is located in the southern portion of Honshu, Japan’s main island, on Osaka Bay, which stretches out into the Pacific Ocean.

Osaka was once a merchant city and the center for rice trade during the Edo period. With its many region-specific dishes like okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) and takoyaki (octopus balls) and a plethora of restaurants, it is known as “Japan’s kitchen.”

Osaka is known as “Japan’s kitchen” and locals have high expectations about the quality of their food. This is takoyaki (たこ焼き), a popular street food in Osaka. Photo: Wikimedia

Osaka has two airports that are easily accessible from the city center via public transportation. These are Kansai International Airport, which serves both domestic and international flights, and Itami Airport, which is solely domestic.

Osaka is a major economic hub of Japan and has a large population of foreigners. It is known for its friendly and casual vibe compared with other major cities, especially Tokyo. Here is a short guide to some of Osaka’s major neighborhoods.

Kita

The Kita area in the north of the city is Osaka’s newer commercial center and the main business district of Osaka.

Grand Front Osaka is a large commercial complex in Umeda, located north of JR Osaka Station. Over 260 shops offer everything from fashion magazines, lifestyle goods, and beauty supplies to cafes, restaurants, and bars. Photo: Martha Knauf

Umeda contains the majority of Osaka’s skyscrapers, with a vibrant mix of office, commercial, residential and mixed-used buildings.

Umeda station is the main terminal here and notable for being the busiest train station in Western Japan. It serves three railways: Hankyu, Hanshin, and the Osaka Municipal Subway. Six other major stations are within walking distance and connected to Umeda via a labyrinth of underground malls.

Umeda is a vibrant and busy area at any hour, day and night. Shopping options abound with high fashion, department stores, and small boutiques. Nightlife is thriving with tons of restaurants, bars, and clubs for all types.

Average Rent in Umeda

According to HOME’S, the average monthly rent for an apartment near Umeda (as of April 2017) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): ¥69,200 ($624 @ 100 JPY = 1 USD)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK): ¥128,900 ($1,162)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): Insufficient data to calculate average
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK): ¥ Insufficient data to calculate average

You can find Umeda apartments, from budget to high-end, here:

  • Apartments for rent in Umeda. Listings for budget studio apartments start in the mid-¥40,000 range but luxury studio apartments rent in the ¥150,000 to ¥350,000 range.

Minami

Although it translates as South, Minami is in the center of Osaka. Known for its shopping and nightlife, it was once the commercial center of the city and is still a major hub for restaurants, retail, and bars. It is made up of two wards, Chuo and Naniwa.

The main hub in southern Osaka is Namba station, which serves two railways, Nankai Electric Railway and the Osaka Municipal Subway. Namba is connected to both Osaka Namba station (Kintetsu and Hanshin railways) and JR Namba station.

Namba is a shopping and entertainment mecca, with destinations like Namba HIPS, a giant entertainment facility with karaoka, bowling, rock climbing, and indoor sports. etc. Photo: WIkimedia

Like Umeda, Namba offers an array of both commercial and cultural options for everyone. Surrounding Namba station are multiple department stores, restaurants, and entertainment centers.

Namba has a thriving nightlife with both large dance clubs and small standing bars tucked unsuspectingly into tall buildings.

Average Rent in Namba

According to HOME’S, the average monthly rent for an apartment near Namba (as of April 2017) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): ¥64,200 ($642 @ 100 JPY = 1 USD)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK): ¥100,700 ($1,007)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK):¥139,100 ($1,391)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK): ¥ 206,700 ($2,067)

You can find Namba apartments, from budget to high-end, here:

A short walk from the Namba station area, Shinsaibashi is the main shopping area, with both budget and high-end options to choose from.

Nearby Horie is slightly more alternative and trendy, with high-end boutiques and consignment shops.

The mechanical crab is a beloved landmark in the Dotonbori district of Osaka. Photo: Wikimedia

Historically the theater district, Dotonbori is a tourist haven filled with affordable Osakan cuisine, more shopping, and famous colorful restaurant signage such as a large mechanical crab.

Tennoji

The Tennoji area is in the south of Osaka. It is served by Tennoji Station, a major transportation hub that serves JR, the Hanwa Line, the Yamatoji Line, and two lines on the Osaka Municipal Subway.

Average Rent in Tennoji

According to HOME’S, the average monthly rent for an apartment near Tennoji (as of April 2017) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): ¥55,400 ($554 @ 100 JPY = 1 USD)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK): ¥75,800 ($758)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK):¥96,000 ($960)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK): ¥ 130,900 ($1,309)

You can find Tennoji apartments, from budget to high-end, here:

The area is named after Shitennoji Temple, a major landmark in the center of the ward.

Shitennoji Temple, the namesake of the Tennoji district. Photo: Martha Knauf

Once a less desirable place to live, recent efforts in the last few years have turned Tennoji into a commercial hub reminiscent of Umeda and Namba.

Tennoji is now jam-packed with shopping malls, specialty stores, restaurants and bars. It also contains the substantial Tennoji Park, Osaka’s only zoo, and Abeno Harukas, Japan’s tallest building with a state-of-the-art observation deck.

Nearby Shinsekai was once a major entertainment district of Osaka and is now worthy of a visit for its sentimental vibe, Osakan cuisine, and Tsutenkaku Tower, a memorable landmark of Osaka.   

The areas detailed above are major hubs of Osaka and thus rent and living costs will naturally be higher. The greater metropolitan areas have a lot to offer.

Suita

For example, Suita City is only a 20 minute train ride north of Umeda station. It has a lot to offer new couples and families. Expo Park is the site of the 1970 World’s Fair and features fascinating modern art from the expo as well as multiple gardens, forests, and scenic hiking trails. The nearby Expo City is a family-friendly entertainment and shopping complex.

EXPO Park in Suita City, a very livable and less expensive alternative to living in Osaka proper. Photo: Wikimedia

There are many other great neighborhoods in Osaka that we didn’t cover above. We will be adding more neighborhood guides soon!

GPM Housing Service Apartments Available in Osaka

The GPM Housing Service is a stress-free rental housing service in English for foreigners looking for an apartment in Japan. Overseas applications accepted, credit card payment ok, no guarantor required, and bilingual support through the whole application process. Find out more below!

Housing Service Apartments Available in Osaka

Learn More About the Housing Service

Guide written by: Martha Knauf

Photo Credit:Perry Li iva Flickr

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