Moving is a daunting task in itself, and moving out to your first apartment in another country adds a lot of new challenges. Another route for apartment seekers looking for a place to live in Japan is to search for share houses.
But what are the merits and pitfalls of choosing to share your living space with strangers? In this article we’ll examine a variety of factors that you should consider when looking at share houses in Japan!
We’ve crunched the numbers and have some surprising data to share with our dear readers looking for an affordable option for moving to Japan. According to our calculations on average rent and move-in fees, moving into a share house can save you around ¥407,500 for the first month of renting (once all the costs of key money, deposits, and appliances etc. are added up). Keep reading to see our breakdown of costs!
For a firsthand account of living in a share house in Japan, our staff writer Scott talks about his experience in this video below:
- Estimated costs for moving into/renting a room in a share house vs apartments in Tokyo
- Pros and cons of living in a share house
- Examples of share houses
- FAQs regarding share houses in Japan
Estimated costs for moving into/renting a room in a share house vs apartments in Tokyo
Utilities: Water, gas, electricity, internet
Maintenance: Utility bills plus fee for shared consumable items (paper towels, dish soap, trash bags, etc.)
Appliances: Based off average price for a shinseikatsu (lit. “new life,” word used to describe moving out to one’s first apartment away from home) set of appliances. In this case: refrigerator, washing machine, microwave, and vacuum.
Keep in mind the above values are very ballpark average values. Prices for rooms in a share house in Tokyo range from ¥20,000 to ¥80,000 per month, with a variety of factors affecting the price (location, year built, distance to nearest station, number of occupants, etc.). We’ve chosen a price point for this article that is representative of a budget friendly apartment seeker’s needs.
It is possible to find 1R and even 1LDK apartments that don’t require key money, deposits, etc. And if you already have appliances you won’t need to buy new ones when moving.
Pros and cons of living in a share house
- Low initial costs
- Appliances and utilities included
- Can feel more social, less isolated
- Opportunity to engage in Japanese language practice at home (if Japanese residents also live at the share house)
- Some share houses employ cleaning services to clean kitchen/dining/living and bathroom areas
- Share houses often run special campaigns with discounts for lengthy stays
- Can be noisy
- Might have to wait/schedule times to use the shower or washing machine
- Really a roll of the dice as to how neat and clean your roommates are
- Can be difficult to invite friends (or significant other) over
- Some share houses are situated in older buildings that aren’t designed to modern earthquake safety regulations (usually resulting in cheaper rent)
Low initial costs
One of the biggest advantages to moving into a share house is the low initial costs. Signing a contract to rent an apartment in Japan can mean you’ll pay a deposit, key money, guarantor fee, etc. upfront, which could add up to as much as two to three months worth of rent even before you set foot into your new place! But, most share houses require minimal deposits to move-in. Of course, you’ll want to triple-check your initial costs with the agency even if you’re looking into share houses.
Furniture and appliances
The next big benefit is that share houses are furnished, so it’s an easy and stress-free process for getting started with living in Japan. You won’t have to scramble to pick up appliances and cutlery, you’ll be ready from day one. It can be easy to forget certain everyday necessities when moving, especially if it’s your first time moving out to your own place. A share house means you won’t have to make any inconvenient last-minute trips to a supermarket or drug store to pick up anything you might have missed.
Building social relationships
Another important factor to consider when moving to a new city is how to build friendships. Despite its vast density, living alone in Tokyo can be an isolating experience when coming home to an empty apartment. If you like the idea of coming home to a house where the lights are on, and where you might be able to have a chat with some fellow roommates, a share house is a great way to get accustomed to a new city while you build relationships.
This is a double-edged sword though, since it will be a complete roll of the dice as to whether or not you really get along with your roommates; but if you’re ok with a little adventure this is an easy way to create new relationships in a new country.
Sharing living space
When moving into a share house you’ll want to take stock of the layout of the rooms in terms of distance from normal gathering (read: noisy) areas. Rooms near living spaces and kitchens might experience a bit more noise than others.
It also may or may not be difficult to invite friends (or significant others) to a share house if you’re looking for a bit of privacy. Your exact situation will depend on your share house, but in general, you will have less privacy in a share house compared to even a studio apartment.
Some share houses are dormitory style, with up to 100 or more individual rooms and large shower/bathing facilities on each floor, with equally spacious dining/living areas for residents to gather and relax. While others provide a more close-knit feeling with 10-20 rooms. As with any other type of apartment hunt, be sure to check out the premises on a room viewing before you make any decision. It’s a good idea to do a room viewing of any share house your interested in to get an idea of the general vibe of the place and then you can decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Examples of share houses
There’s a wide variety of share houses that you can find in Japan. It’s possible to find everything from 7-10 room homes to 100+ room dormitories. Here’s a quick look through a few share houses that you can find on our website. This will give you a better idea of the different kinds of share houses you can find so that you can find one that best fits your needs! (Share houses available as of February 2020.)
- Rent: ¥30,000
- Maintenance: ¥10,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥40,000
One of the share house managers has uploaded this Youtube video showcasing the features of their share house. It’s located in Fuchu City, just west of the 23 special ward of Tokyo, but still in a very livable neighborhood with access to Shinjuku via the Keio Line! This is an example of one of the larger share houses that is similar to a dormitory. A share house like this is a great way to hit the ground running with meeting new people when you move to Japan!
- Rent: ¥20,000
- Maintenance: ¥4,800
- Deposit: ¥20,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥44,800
This share house is located in Iriya, a residential neighborhood in Taito Ward. This area is right next to the large transportation hub of Ueno Station (only 13 min away by foot). It goes to show that you can find very affordable accommodations even quite close to major stations! The listing states that there are different rates for a shared room or a private room, it’s always a good idea to double check what kinds of rooms are available in a share house.
- Rent: ¥30,000
- Maintenance: ¥5,000
- Key money: ¥10,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥45,000
Here’s an example of a share house located near the very convenient Ikebukuro Station. This gives residents multiple train/subway lines at their doorstep for getting around Tokyo smoothly. Ikebukuro is also a popular shopping/entertainment area, for more info on the neighborhood check out our Ikebukuro Area Guide.
- Rent: ¥27,000
- Maintenance: ¥5,000
- Key money: ¥15,000
- Other: ¥5,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥50,000
If you take a look through our share house listings you can find some very unique places that you can’t find anywhere else! For example, the above is the information for a Gaming House in Itabashi Ward. The house was recently renovated in 2017 and specializes in providing residents with the latest and greatest video games! One feature of living in a share house is the social aspect, and having friends/roommates around to play video games with can be a great way to bond!
- Rent: ¥45,000
- Maintenance: ¥8,000
- Deposit: ¥20,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥73,000
This is a more recently built share house, and it is also located in a quiet residential area. For these reasons the rent is a little more expensive than the previous examples. However it still is substantially cheaper than renting an average 1K or 1LDK in Tokyo. A highlight of this location is that while it is in a residential neighborhood, it’s just a 10 minute walk to the stylish and hip Shimokitazawa area!
- Rent: ¥64,000
- Maintenance: ¥16,000
- Deposit: ¥80,000
- Estimated cost of moving in and 1 month of rent: ¥160,000
The price to rent a room in this share house is comparable to a studio apartment (1R/1K), so you might be curious as to why somebody would choose to live in a shared space at this price. This could be a good fit for those who are staying for 6-12 months who don’t want to deal with purchasing and selling appliances. If you take a look at the listing, you’ll notice that this is a renovated building with plenty of living space, which is why the rent is higher compared to other share houses. Note that this is also a women-only share house, it is not uncommon to come across share houses that are only for women so make sure to check all the details of the listing.
What is the average monthly cost for a room in a share house?
This is a difficult question to answer due to the wide range of price points that share houses can be found at. You can find rooms for as low as ¥25,000 and all the way to ¥80,000 per month.
What kind of documents do I need? Do I need a guarantor?
In general it’s best to be prepared with a few different forms of ID and documents. As a guideline, here’s a copy of required documents taken from a share house listed on our website:
-A Copy of all tenant’s passports & residence cards
-A Letter of Acceptance from school or company in Japan / Japanese Student ID / A Copy of pay stubs (last 3 months)
-Emergency contact information in your country & in Japan
*Please note: other documents may be required during the application process.
Are utilities and WiFi included?
Share houses should have utilities set up for tenants. While most share houses should include WiFi, you’ll always want to double-check the situation with the manager. On our website, the “maintenance” portion that is listed is how much you will pay per month to cover your share of utilities and other shared expenses.
What is actually included in the private room?
Generally you can expect the following items to be prepared in a bedroom in a share house:
Things rooms might have prepared, but also might not:
- Trash bin
- Clothing rack/hangers
Why do they need to see my passport/residence card?
Share house managers will need to have some form of identification on hand in case anything happens to the room, or in case of any emergencies.
Do share houses enforce a curfew?
Although we can’t speak for all share houses in Japan, it seems like the tendency is that curfews are not enforced. However, as you will be sharing your living space with others it’s best to be aware of any noise you make in the evening and night.
What do I do if I have an issue with another share house tenant?
The best course of action is to talk to the share house manager. If your conflict seems simple enough to solve on your own, you might be able to try handling things yourself. However, there can be miscommunication between share house tenants due to language barriers and cultural differences. Although you might think a face-to-face discussion is the best route, it might be very uncomfortable for others in the share house. As a general tip, bring up the subject politely and calmly with the share house manager to start any conflict resolution.
If you’re looking into what the apartment hunting process in Japan entails, here’s our quick rundown of what to expect. Knowledge is half the battle, and you’ll want to be prepared since the battlefield of apartment hunting takes no prisoners.
Where should you live in Tokyo? Check out all our Tokyo Area Guides to find the perfect place!
Lead photo: iStock