Tokyo Apartment Head-to-head Comparison: Which would you choose?

Dividing apartments into categories like 1R, 1K, 1DK, etc. is an easy way gauge approximate square meterage, but it’s really only one part of the equation when trying to imagine living in any given apartment. The reality is that there is a surprising amount of variety in apartments when you factor in location, apartment features, and transportation options on top of the layout.

If you’re not familiar with Japanese apartment layouts, take a few minutes to read through our guide. This will provide you with a good base understanding for navigating Japanese apartment listings.

Kita Ward vs. Minato Ward

In today’s head-to-head apartment comparison we’re going to take a look at two similarly priced (monthly rent) apartments in Tokyo: one in Kita Ward, and one in Minato Ward. Those familiar with Tokyo might be a little perplexed at why we are examining apartments in these two wards that are quite different.

Kita Ward in the north tends to fly under the radar in terms of livability in the 23 wards of Tokyo. Sure, it doesn’t have the flashy urban sights of Ikebukuro, Roppongi, or Shinjuku; but you’d be surprised at how close you will be to these downtown hotspots while also enjoying a bit of calm and quiet. And on the flip side, for those who love the idea of being right in the mix of central Tokyo, Minato Ward is one of the top locations to look at.

I’m going to preface this comparison with the fact that there is a huge variety of apartments to look for in Tokyo. This is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek comparison at two apartments in two different locations in Tokyo that have a similar price. If you change your search parameters you can find apartments that meet your requirements (whether that be location, price, size, etc.).

1K – Kita Ward – 86,000

  • Year built: 2017
  • Size: 25.45 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (4th)
  • Closest station: 6 min to Shimo Station (Namboku subway line)
  • Other features: Balcony, automatically locking front entrance, no deposit, no key money, pets negotiable, agent can provide furniture at cost

This apartment is located in the Shimo neighborhood in Kita Ward. This puts it right next to the Sumida River and Arakawa River. Your reaction to this apartment being close to the rivers will depend on your inclination towards fitness; along these rivers are long stretches of paved (and sometimes unpaved) pedestrian roads. These make for great jogging/walking/cycling paths uninterrupted by motor vehicles.

As far as transportation convenience goes, it will take roughly 30 minutes to get to Shinjuku Station from Shimo Station with one transfer. That’s not a bad commute, as far as Tokyo public transportation is concerned. But there is a lack of nightlife in the area which can either be a pro or con depending on your preferences.

If the outdoors are not your cup of tea and you’d much rather enjoy walking through the excitement of downtown Tokyo, keep reading!

1DK – Minato Ward – 90,000

  • Year built: 1986
  • Size: 29.50 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (4th)
  • Closest station: 8 min to Azabu-Juban Station (Namboku subway line, Oedo subway line)
  • Other features: Balcony, no key money, central Tokyo location

A couple of differences should jump out right at first glance. This apartment in central Tokyo is actually larger than the one that is commuting distance to downtown Tokyo. But the tradeoff is that this apartment was built in 1986. There are pros and cons to finding a deal in an older apartment, and it is difficult to convey the small, subtle differences in quality of life you get with newer apartments.

Apartments built in 2017 or newer might even have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, more energy efficient windows (keeps your apartment more comfortable), and delivery boxes (convenient for when you’ve ordered something online but won’t be home when it gets delivered). If you’re ok with living without these modern conveniences, then yes, you can save some money on rent by taking a look through older apartments.

With all that said, this is also an apartment that is practically smack dab in the middle of central Tokyo. This can be a major factor if you’re also considering commute or distance to downtown entertainment districts.

I think we have a very interesting pair of apartments for our first head-to-head comparison. On one hand there is a newer, feature-packed and pet-friendly apartment in a residential neighborhood close to open riverside space, and on the other hand a slightly older apartment with a little more space located right among some of the most popular central Tokyo destinations.

Take a moment to vote on which apartment you prefer!

We’ll share our results in the next head-to-head apartment comparison!