Neighborhood Guide

Best Places to Live in Tokyo: 2016 Best of the Rest

This is the second part of the “Best Places to Live in Tokyo: 2016 Survey” as picked by locals. People were asked to pick the best neighbourhoods to live in greater Tokyo, which includes Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa prefectures.

#6 Meguro

Meguro River. Photo: Nayalan Moodley

Meguro River. Photo: Nayalan Moodley

Tokyo locals would not be surprised to hear that Meguro made the top ten list, and some people might be surprised that it didn’t rank higher.

Meguro is a predominantly residential area that’s as well connected and convenient as anywhere in the world’s largest city can be, while still being distinctly calmer, quieter and far more livable than many other parts of the capital.

Highlights of the neighborhood would be: a relaxed atmosphere in a central location, an abundance of green space, cherry blossoms along the Meguro River, designer boutiques, and artistic character.

Meguro is a Yamanote line station, which means that you can zip directly to Shinjuku in 12 minutes, Shibuya in five, and Tokyo in eighteen. It is also served by the Tokyo Metro Namboku and Toei Mita subway lines and the Tokyu Meguro line.

Within the ward, there are buses, and the quiet streets paired with relatively steep hills makes cycling an attractive option for getting around.

Meguro has more restaurants, cafes and taverns than can be conveniently quantified, to serve its growing residential population. The majority of which are smaller, individually owned establishments, with their own unique flavours, and specialities.

For our full guide to Meguro, please see: Meguro Area Guide

Meguro is considered a very desirable residential neighborhood among both Japanese and non-Japanese. There are many luxury condominium buildings and single-family homes catering to high-end residents, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t find mid-range or even budget accommodation (such as shared houses or guesthouses) in the area.

Average Rent in Meguro

According to HOME’S, a Japanese real estate listing site, the average rent for an apartment near Meguro (as of March 2016) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): 110,200 yen ($977 @ 110 JPY = 1 USD)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK): 224,100 yen ($1987)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): 256,500 yen ($2274)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK): 294,000 yen ($2606)

However, you certainly can find apartments for lower than the average rent levels mentioned above. Search for:

#7 Ikebukuro

The Ikebukuro station area as seen from the Sunshine City observation deck.

The Ikebukuro station area as seen from the Sunshine City observation deck.

Ikebukuro is a major commercial and shopping district (really, a mini-city inside Tokyo) and the second busiest station in the world, after Shinjuku, with 2.71 million passengers a day on average in 2007. It primarily serves commuters coming in from northwestern Tokyo and Saitama prefecture.

It is very urban and very convenient. Here you will find the Sunshine City complex (which includes a 60-story mixed-used skyscraper with an observation deck, aquarium, planetarium, and shopping mall), branches of Seibu and Tobu, two large department store chains, major electronic chains, and shopping and restaurants galore. In recent years, it has also developed a small otaku sub-culture.

Live here if you want to be right on the Yamanote line and have easy access to points in north and west of Tokyo and shopping at your doorstep.

From Ikebukuro, you can access JR lines (the Yamanote, Saikyo, and Shonan Shinjuku), two privately operated lines (Seibu Ikebukuro and Tobu Tojo lines), and three subway lines (the Marunouchi, Yurakucho, and Fukutoshin lines).

A number of Real Estate Japan’s office mates currently live in or have lived in Ikebukuro, and here’s how they describe living there: bustling, vibrant and crowded, it’s a great neighborhood for young people and something like Shibuya but not as crazy. It is a “good place to live as one of the “stops” in your life, but I would not buy a house there,” says one current resident, “It’s just two crowded.” Apparently, it is also the place to go to find a good hair stylist or nail salon. So, there you have it.

Average Rent in Ikebukuro

The average rent for an apartment near Ikebukuro (as of March 2016) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): 86,600 yen ($789)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK): 139,500 yen ($1272)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): 200,800 yen ($1831)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK): 258,700 yen ($2350)

To see apartment listings in Ikebukuro: Apartments for rent in Ikebukuro. Share houses in Ikebukuro start from around 26,000 yen a month. Studio apartment listings start from the low 40,000 yen a month range.

#8 Shinjuku

The entrance to Kabukicho (red-light district) on the northeast side of Shinjuku. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr

The entrance to Kabukicho (red-light district) on the northeast side of Shinjuku. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr

Coming in at #8 on the list is an area that many Tokyoites would think of as Tokyo’s top shopping and entertainment destination, but not necessarily as the top residential neighborhood. Still, Shinjuku made the list for a reason.

Shinjuku is the mini-city and business and commercial hub that anchors western Tokyo. It is the busiest train station in the world, with more than two million passengers going through a day. If Ikebukuro is convenient for access to transport, then Shinjuku would be uber-convenient. About a dozen rail and subway lines serve Shinjuku. It is also where you can catch a long-distance bus to just about anywhere in the country.

Shopping includes branches of the Keio and Lumine department stores right in the station, Marui and Isetan east of the station, and the Takashimaya department store bordering the Southern Terrace. This is not to mention the hundreds of small shops and restaurants populating the miles of underground shopping arcades.

West of the station is the skyscraper district and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings and northeast is Tokyo’s main red-light district, Kabukicho.

A world apart from the north-side of the station is the Southern Terrace, with a branch of Takashimaya, as mentioned above, Tokyu Hands, Krispy Kreme donuts, and Kinokuniya book store (with a whole floor of foreign-language books).

About a ten-minute walk from the station is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a large (58.3 hectare) park with spacious green lawns and landscaped western- and Japanese-style gardens and an arboretum. It is considered one of Tokyo’s top cherry blossom-viewing destinations.

Average Rent in Shinjuku

The average rent for an apartment near Shinjuku (as of March 2016) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): 102,500 yen ($1,136)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK):  155,500 yen ($1,873)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): No data (due to the low number of apartments of this size near the station)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK):  No data (due to the low number of apartments of this size near the station)

To see apartment listings in Shinjuku: Apartments for rent in Shinjuku. Share houses and studio apartments in Shinjuku start from the mid-60,000 yen a month range.

As we posted in this article, however, you don’t have to actually live in Shinjuku to take advantage of it as a great shopping and entertainment district: Top Stations by Lowest Rent — 30 Minutes or Less Direct to Shinjuku

You may also be interested in Shinjuku: Then and Now, a photographic essay on the history of Shinjuku

#9 Tokyo

Tokyo Station Building

Tokyo Station Building. It is said that the design of Tokyo Station is based on that of Amsterdam Centraal Station in The Netherlands.

#9 on the list is Tokyo Station! Tokyo station is located in the prestigious Marunouchi business district and near the exclusive shops and restaurants of Ginza (to the south) and the Imperial Palace grounds (to the west).

Tokyo station is served by the shinkansen (bullet train), seven JR lines, and the Marunouchi subway line. It is Tokyo’s main inter-city rail terminal and the busiest station in Japan in terms of number of trains per day. Living near Tokyo station would be akin to living near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan…

Over the last decade, the Marunouchi district has undergone a major re-development, with many older office buildings being replaced by mixed-use skyscrapers. These buildings, with shopping and dining complexes, have made the Tokyo station area into more of a shopping and dining destination in recent years, but for most locals, it would not come to mind as a residential neighborhood.

Average Rent near Tokyo Station

The average rent for an apartment near Tokyo Station (as of March 2016) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): 124,600 yen ($1,136)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK):  205,500 yen ($1,873)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): 304,000 yen ($2,771)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK):  No data (due to the low number of apartments of this size near the station)

To see apartment listings near Tokyo Station: Apartments for rent near Tokyo Station. Studio apartments near Tokyo start from the mid-70,000 yen a month range.

You may also be interested in: Top Stations by Lowest Rent — 30 Minutes Direct to Tokyo Station

#10 Futako Tamagawa

Futako Tamagawa station. Photo: By Araisyohei via Wikimedia Commons

Futako Tamagawa station. Photo: By Araisyohei via Wikimedia Commons

#10 on the list, Futako Tamagawa is, in some ways, the very opposite of #9 (Tokyo). Located in Setagaya ward, in southwestern Tokyo on the north-east bank of the Tama River, Futako Tamagawa is a residential neighborhood populated by people who do not want to live in the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo. That being said, being on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line, it is just an 11-minute ride to Shibuya.

Average Rent in Futako Tamagawa

The average rent for an apartment in Futako Tamagawa (as of March 2016) is:

  • Studio (1R, 1K, 1DK): 79,700 yen ($727)
  • 1BR to 2BR (1LDK, 2K, 2DK):   117,900 yen ($1,075)
  • 2BR to 3BR (2LDK, 3K, 3DK): 192,300 yen ($1,753)
  • 3BR to 4BR (3LDK, 4K, 4DK):  274,600 yen ($2,504)

To see apartment listings in Futako Tamagawa: Apartments for rent in Tamako Tamagawa. Studio apartments in Futako Tamagawa start from the mid-50,000 yen a month range.

For the top five, please see: Best Places to Live in Tokyo 2016 Survey

Source: SUUMO Survey (in Japanese)

Top photo: Cherry blossoms spilling into the Meguro River.

Photo Credit: Chris Dickey via Flickr