How I Found my Apartment in Japan: Jamie and Shawny from Scotland

It is possible and actually not even that stressful to rent an apartment in Japan from overseas. Real Estate Japan recently conducted an interview with married couple, Jamie and Shawny from Scotland, who did exactly that…and not once but twice! They will soon move to Tokyo to start their new life. In this interview, they were kind enough to share their story.

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in coming to live in Japan?

We are Jamie and Shawny Cruickshank and we come from Scotland. Jamie is a software engineer and Shawny works with children with learning difficulties and disabilities. We first came to Japan in October 2016 for a holiday where we got engaged in Osaka. The following July, we picked Japan as our honeymoon destination as we were longing to get back. This time round, we both agreed that we still had so much more to see and do and we felt a connection with the country and wanted to stay longer. When we got home, we applied for our working holiday visa, sold our house and moved to Tokyo in June 2018!

2. We understand from our colleagues at the GaijinPot Housing Service that this isn’t your first time moving to Japan. Can you tell us about the first time you moved to Japan and why you left?

We first moved to Japan in June 2018. We had been on holiday to Japan a few times prior and we knew we wanted to spend longer in the country. We wanted to stay longer after a year but we wanted to change our visas so we had to come home. Unfortunately, we found out we had to go home 10 days before our current visa expired so we had to leave suddenly. It’s been a long process, but we’re finally coming back!

3. How did you find out about the GaijinPot Housing Service? Can you describe how the application process went (the first time)? Was it easy to do the application from overseas?

We first found out about the Gaijinpot Housing Service on the Gaijinpot Facebook page. We got in touch with the Housing Service who answered any questions we had and provided us with a list of available accommodations they had. We picked our apartment in Ryougoku (a district in Tokyo famous for being the historic center of sumo). We moved to Japan around two weeks later and on the day we arrived, we picked up our keys from the Gaijinpot Housing Service offices. It was extremely straightforward. 

4. Did you like your apartment? Did you have any problems moving in, living there, or moving out?

We were fortunate and lucky enough to move into a brand new flat and were the first tenants in our flat. The move-in process was extremely straightforward as Gaijinpot Housing Service were amazing with us and had contacted our gas, water and electric companies on our behalf, so it alleviated a lot of stress involved in moving to a brand new country and not having a great understanding of the language. Gaijinpot Housing Service were always on hand to help us with any issues we ran into and when we had to leave suddenly, they were very understanding and offered to help us while we moved home.

5. What did you like and dislike about your neighborhood (Ryougoku)? Would you recommend the neighborhood to other foreigners? Why or why not?

We loved the area. It was in the centre of Tokyo but it was a lovely area. It was extremely convenient and had a main JR line and two Metro lines within a ten minute walk of our apartment. We would definitely recommend the area to other foreigners!

6. Now you’re coming back to Japan! Can you tell us how you found a job and got a working visa?

I had made some contacts when I was in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV), when I realised I couldn’t renew my WHV, I had reached out to see if anyone was looking for a Software Engineer. Luckily for me, one of my friends was hiring and he was happy to hire me. I was very lucky I found the job so easily. 

7. Why did you decide to contact the GaijinPot Housing Service again to find your home in Tokyo? Would you recommend the GaijinPot Housing Service to your friends who are moving to Japan?

Gaijinpot Housing Service are a company we would definitely recommend to anyone we know who may be moving to Japan and there was no doubt in our mind of contacting them to help find our new home. They made what can be a stressful situation very easy and eased us of any worry.

8. Can you tell us how the application process went the second time? Was it hard applying from overseas? How did you choose the apartment that you ultimately applied for (what factors were important to you)?

The application process the second time was just as straightforward as the first time. This time round, the factors we had to take into consideration was area, size and price. We were always visiting Akihabara and Ueno while living in Japan so it was the first area to look at, but we also wanted to move into a bigger apartment. We were fortunate enough in the end to find the perfect apartment for us in the area we loved the most.

9. What are you looking forward to the most about coming back to Japan? Is there anything that worries you or that you’re a little nervous about?

We are looking forward to get integrated back into the culture of Japan. We loved walking around and finding new places and new experiences every day. We still feel like we have so much to see after staying for a year and we can’t wait to get back and explore more of the country we love (and we can’t wait for the buzz of the Olympics!)

10. Is there any advice you would give to other foreigners who are planning to come live and work in Japan?

Make sure you know the garbage system for your ward and always stay hydrated – there is no reason to be thirsty with all the vending machines and konbinis (convenience stores), however you can forget in the busyness of it all.


Jamie and Shawny, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us and our readers. We wish you the best of luck in your new home in Japan!

If you are looking for an apartment in Japan (whether you’re applying from overseas or are already in-country), check out the GaijinPot Housing Service. With the GaijinPot Housing Service, you:

  • Can choose from 3,000+ properties throughout Japan.
  • Don’t need a guarantor.
  • Can apply from overseas.
  • Pay all your upfront costs and monthly costs with a credit card.
  • Receive full English service, from the room view, to application, to post-move-in support.

Learn More About the GaijinPot Housing Service