We’ve discussed housing here and now it’s time to show you my humble abode. What did I end up with on the JET Programme? Did I draw the short straw or get the house of my dreams?
I did have a predecessor; however, I was not allowed to move into their housing arrangements. My predecessor moved out of the housing that was originally provided by my Contracting Organisation (CO), so their lease was entirely private from my CO. As such, I had to find my own place to make a new contract with.
It ended up being around a month-long process just to find an apartment that my supervisor and I agreed upon, as well as one that would accept me. I luckily didn’t run into too many issues with finding a place that would lease to a foreigner, all things considering since Nonoichi is not accustomed to foreigners.
I had a lot of back and forth with my supervisor on potential properties and many were rejected for one reason or another by us before we ended up deciding on one.
My supervisor asked me for my initial preferences on what I was looking for in an apartment and we went from there.
I hate the smell of tatami. I can deal with it for performances and ceremonies, I would hate being home if I had it. I also fail at cleaning it. Tatami is horrid with mould and very fragile—it needs very careful attention all the time to maintain. I also didn’t want to deal with having to pay to replace the mats when I moved out.
A/C in at least one room
This was the biggest deal breaker for me to be honest. With how expensive A/C units are in Japan and given that I was arriving in the peak of summer, I needed to have an A/C readily available. I already was going to have high start up costs and could not afford to buy a new A/C.
Distance to work
I would be working at both a Junior High School and at City Hall from time to time. As I do not drive, I needed a place that was within a reasonable distance to my workplaces. I did not want to rely on public transportation if I did not have to, since my CO was not reimbursing the costs. So, that left me walking or biking. Given that Ishikawa is very rainy and gets heavy snow—up to your waist some winters! —I knew that I wanted to be able to walk to both places within 30 minutes.
My max price range was around 50,000 yen but not hitting the 60,000¥ range. I wanted it to be as cheap as possible for the size and all other factors. Nonoichi is considered to be a suburb of Kanazawa, so the housing is more reasonable compared to the capital. This gave me more leeway to get a bigger place for a cheaper price point than I would in KZ or I would have in Kyoto. In Kyoto, I paid 35,000-39,000 ¥ a month for a tiny apartment, but it was liveable for a college student and had water included. But in Ishikawa, I plan on staying for a while and then possibly moving elsewhere in Japan for work after JET, so I would be planting more roots than I did in Kyoto.
No key money!
I refused to pay key money to move in. I had a very limited amount of money to bring with me to Japan and it would possibly just get me by after move-in fees, so key money was out of the question. If the rent was very low, then I was willing to give key money a shot if that was also only 1 month’s worth of rent, but was highly against it in general.
My supervisor selected the original realtor and told me that it was OK for me to look on my own. When I didn’t care for his initial choices, I looked on my own for a bit and he ended up rejecting all of mine. It was a fun game… We eventually switched realtors and I found a few good properties but there were some issues with them, such as the phase of the moon and it not being in the cards. Eventually, we narrowed it down to two options and then one of the original options that we had been debating on opened again, so we went with that one.
My apartment/realtor required a guarantor company for all its tenants, not just a guarantor of my choosing. This added up to around 1 month’s worth of rent and did bring up my move-in fees…
2LDK, 48.63 meters cubed. Both bedrooms 6-jo, LDK 10-jo.
10-15-minute walk to school and a 15-30-minute walk to City Hall. Perfect for bad weather days or rough mornings when I need to get to work briskly.
Apartment complex > Mansion. There are only 4 units in the complex and the other 3 units are filled with families with young children.
No tatami. “Hardwood”. Japan has this thing with fake tiles(?) that can get a lot of imprints on and even tear but look like wood, so it is cheaper to replace if damaged. It does feel nice though haha.
Separate toilet and bath/powder room.
Indoor washer spot. Washer not included.
A/C installed in one bedroom. Locations for additional installations in the living room and 2nd bedroom available.
Veranda/Balcony in one bedroom.
Front door camera/intercom. It’s a fancy model at that!
“Spa” bath. Heating options include pre-heating and reheating for baths and autofill. Perfect for winter when I want to make a bath and keep it warm. The tub is slightly longer than the average Japanese tub, but not truly at Western sizing, while still being normal Japanese depth. Perfect for an onsen-type experience.
Automatic rent withdrawal. 2nd month needed to be paid at a conbini since it was still not finalised.
No internet line pre-installed. Had to call and set that up myself.
NHK, including BS, line pre-installed. BS additional channels, and standard service additional channels, need registration/subscription.
Gas heating and stove. I did get an IH burner regardless, since it’s safer than gas, but the flat itself is gas operated.
Second floor of the complex. I would have preferred to be on the 1st floor for move-in/move-out/travel instances, since it is a pain to bring furniture and suitcases up and down stairs, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
Close to 2 conbini, 2 supermarkets, and various cafes. I’m bitter than 7-11 is my closest conbini. Fight me, Nanaco.
Rent 47,000¥ + insurance 500 ¥ + maintenance fee 2,000 ¥ + guarantor fee 1,800 ¥ + community fee 725 ¥ = 52,025¥/month
Living allowance 20,000 ¥ . Brings my rent down to 32,025 ¥ /month. I can use my living allowance however I’d like, since the flat is a private lease not through my CO and I don’t pay them but the landlord. However, it helps with the rent, so why not.
No key money. But deposit was 2 months rent, guarantor application 1 month, and leasing company 0.5 months rent.
Total move in costs (just for apartment): 232,510 ¥
Furniture costs (Before 1st pay check):
40,000 ¥ for 5 items from my predecessor… they provided me other small items for free that were handed down in the JET family, but main furniture that I needed were charged.
The sofa bed is a JET hand-me-down and definitely is not going to used without a cover but it comfy and a free alternative to buying a new one.
30,000+ ¥ for a washer.
Internet set up: 18,000 ¥ (instalments, but I put it away just to be certain I have it).
20,000+ ¥ Additional furniture/items needed for start-up
Hostel before moving into apartment: 3,000 ¥ /night, 1 night only.
Total start-up costs for apartment: 343,510+ ¥
I had brought just barely enough to pay everything and survive till my first pay check on August 21st. Considering some people don’t even get paid until September or have higher start-up costs, I got very lucky to have enough with me.
My CO directly told me that they would not assist me in any way financially if I didn’t have enough money, so my main concern was just the apartment fees and I was willing to sleep on the hard floor if needed. Since I had extra money after my initial move-in, I started to furnish the flat with main necessities up to my budget.
My CO also did not pay or reimburse me for my required hotel/hostel before moving in, so I selected the absolute cheapest option available. Originally my CO was trying to get me to stay in a hotel at 10,000 ¥ /night for 3-5 nights, but I pushed to move in ASAP and booked the hostel on my own before they could force my hand.
I did not have to pay for a moving company for the item that I bought off my pred thankfully. My supervisor was able to use company cars and vans to move items from my pred’s flat to mine, but we had to do all the heavy lifting ourselves. Have you tried getting a big (Western sized) fridge, sofas, and a bed up and down narrow staircases and hallways with just 2 people? It’s not fun.
If I don’t get muscles after all this, I’m suing. Who? I don’t know, but I’m suing someone.
I still plan on buying a few more furnishing for the place but will be waiting for my next pay check to do so. I plan on turning the 2nd room into an office mainly and need to buy more things for it. I also plan on getting another A/C unit for the living room, as it has been unbearable to stay in for more than 15 minutes, even with the fans blasting. However, I’m not sure if I should try to endure this summer and just get it next year before the next waves from hell emerge. It’s been pretty rainy lately and more bearable with indoors, so I’m hoping this summer will pass quickly. We shall see. Overall, I think it is mainly furnished, aside from personal touches.
What do you guys think about my flat in the Ishikawa suburbs? Did I luck out or do you think I could have done better?