Best places to live in Kansai – 2021 Survey

These neighborhoods were chosen as the best three places to live in the Kansai area, based on a recent survey of locals, conducted by SUUMO, a Japanese real estate listing site.

Kansai is the region in western Japan that includes Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe.

#1 Nishinomiya Kitaguchi

Key Highlights:

  • Ideally situated between Kobe and Osaka on a major train line in Kansai, the Hankyu Kobe line

  • Excellent shopping and entertainment right near the station, including two giant shopping malls ACTA Nishinomiya and Hankyu Nishinomiya Gardens; and the Hyogo Performing Arts Center
  • Konan University, Nishinomiya campus
  • This was the fourth consecutive year that Nishinomiya Kitaguchi took first place in the survey!

Two words come to mind when describing this area: central and convenient. Nishinomiya Kitaguchi station is located in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, about equidistant between central Osaka and Kobe.

From here, it is a about a 13-minute direct ride to Umeda Station (in Osaka) and 14 minutes to Kobe Sannomiya Station, making it an ideal location for being literally at the center of the Kansai region. The station is served by two major lines: the Hankyu Kobe and Imazu lines.

After the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, the area around Nishinomiya Kitaguchi station was re-developed as a center for the revitalization of Nishinomiya City, which is perhaps most well known as the home of Koshien Stadium, where the Hanshin Tigers baseball team plays home games and where Japan’s annual high school baseball championship is held.

Where: Nishinomiya City, Hyogo

Lines: Hankyu Kobe, Hankyu Imazu

Access:

  • 20-min direct ride to Umeda Station in Osaka
  • 23-min direct ride to Kobe Station in Kobe
  • 1 hour 15-min ride to Kyoto Station in Kyoto, with one transfer

Average Rent in Nishinomiya Kitaguchi

As of March 2021

  • 1R: ¥56,500 ($518 USD)
  • 1K: ¥56,900 ($522 USD)
  • 1LDK: ¥88,200 ($808 USD)
  • 2LDK: ¥127,300 ($1,166 USD)
  • 3LDK: ¥156,500  ($1,434 USD)

Apartments for Rent in Nishinomiya Kitaguchi

Here’s a good example of of a budget apartment currently available for rent near Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station:

Furnished apartment for rent near Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station. Total monthly cost ¥57,550 ($527 USD). No deposit, no key money, no agency fee. Please click on the photo to see the full listing and to contact the listing agent for a room view! Photo: J-Homes.

#2 Umeda

(Left) Grand Front Osaka and (Right) JR Osaka Station in Umeda. Photo: iStock

Key highlights

  • Umeda is one of Osaka’s two main city centers. It is the main commercial, shopping, and entertainment district in northern Osaka and the city’s busiest transportation hub. The Namba area is Umeda’s counterpart in the southern part of the city. Umeda is also referred to as Kita (which means “north”), while Namba is also called Minami (which means “south”).
  • The heart of Umeda is the complex housing Osaka Station  and Umeda Station, whose combined daily passenger numbers make them the busiest station in western Japan and the fourth busiest railway in the world (Wikipedia).
  • Seven different stations can be found in the Umeda area, all of which are connected by underground passageways.
  • For an in-depth guide to the Umeda station area, please see this article: Where to stay near Umeda

Where: Osaka City, Osaka

Lines: As mentioned above, seven different stations can be found in the Umeda area, which give you almost limitless possibilities for getting around Osaka and greater Kansai.

JR Osaka Station is actually located within the same sprawling complex as Umeda station, so there is no functional difference between the two, and they are often referred to as “Osaka-Umeda” station.

JR Osaka Station is officially served by three train lines:

  • JR Kobe Line
  • JR Kyoto Line
  • Osaka Loop Line

Umeda Station is directly connected to Osaka Station. Umeda is served by two railway companies:

  • Hanshin Main Line:
  • Hankyu Railway: Hankyu operates three main trunk lines (originating at Umeda) connecting Osaka with Kobe, Takarzuka, and Kyoto.

Here are just a few examples of travel times from Osaka-Umeda station:

  • 12-min direct ride to Shin Osaka Station on the Midosuji line
  • 14-min direct ride to Namba on the Midosuji line
  • 48-min direct to Kobe Station on the JR Kobe line
  • 53-min direct to Kyoto Station on the Tokaido Sanyo line

Average Rent in Umeda

As of March 2021

  • 1R: ¥56,500 ($518 USD)
  • 1K: ¥65,600 ($601 USD)
  • 1LDK: ¥137,200 ($1,257 USD)
  • 2LDK: ¥229,600 ($2,103 USD)
  • 3LDK: ¥270,400  ($2,477 USD)

Apartments for rent in Umeda

Umeda offers innumerable residential options in the way of apartment complexes, from budget to high-end. Here is a beautiful 1-bedroom (1LDK) currently being offered for rent.

Spacious 34.58 m² 1LDK apartment for rent near Umeda Station. Built in 2015. Please click on the photo to see the full listing and to contact the listing agent for a room view! Photo: Re-Max Apex

#3 Kobe-Sannomiya

Highlights

  • Kobe-Sannomiya is Kobe’s main railway station.
  • The Sannomiya area is also the main shopping and dining district in Kobe. Live here to experience all that is fashionable and stylish about the city: unique boutiques, import stores, patisseries, department stores, and a huge array of restaurants.

Where: Kobe City, Hyogo

Lines:

  • Hanshin Electric Railway (Main Line) – Kobe-Sannomiya Station (Hanshin)
  • Hankyu Railway (Kobe Line, Kobe Kosoku Line) – Kobe-Sannomiya Station (Hankyu)
  • Kobe New Transit (Port Island Line, K01) – Sannomiya Station
  • Kobe Municipal Subway (Seishin-Yamate Line) – Sannomiya Station
  • Kobe Municipal Subway (Kaigan Line) – Sannomiya-Hanadokeimae Station
  • JR West – Sannomiya Station

Access:

Just a few examples of travel times from Kobe-Sannomiya Station

  • 7-min direct on the Seishin Yamate subway line
  • 32-min direct to Umeda on the Hanshin line

Average Rent in Kobe-Sannomiya

As of March 2021

  • 1R: ¥65,200 ($597 USD)
  • 1K: ¥62,500 ($573 USD)
  • 1LDK: ¥115,200 ($1,055 USD)
  • 2LDK: ¥157,100 ($1,439 USD)
  • 3LDK: ¥192,300  ($1,761 USD)

Apartments for rent in Kobe-Sannomiya

This month’s featured rental apartment in Kobe is this fully furnished 1LDK apartment for rent near Sannomiya Station. Wifi included and ready to move in! Interior just renovated in 2019. Please click on the photo for the full listing and to contact the agent for a room view! Photo: Core 8

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Translation of Japanese apartment lease application

How much you should budget for move-in costs to rent an apartment in Japan?

What Japanese real estate agents want foreigners to know about renting an apartment in Japan

Average rent in Tokyo

Japanese Apartment Layout Terms


Sources: SUUMO住みたい街ランキング2021 関西版, Ranking of places people want to live, Kansai Edition 2021 (PDF in Japanese), Wikipedia (Kobe-Sannomiya Station train line info), average rent data via homes.co.jp

Lead photo: iStock 826440830, Hankyu Koyo Line near Kurakuenguchi in Nishinomiya, taken April 2016