A new trend in housing has been on the rise for the past year, attracting more and more people, including travelers, foreigners, and even Japanese locals: share-houses. While share houses are not a new concept, they are rapidly becoming the most economical housing solution for one of the world’s most expensive pieces of real estate.
In the past, these co-living spaces were known as “Gaijin Houses” as they mainly attracted cash-strapped foreigners without access to guarantors (which are required for rental properties). Still, now they’re a hub for full-time students, young working professionals, and adventurers.
What’s a Share House?
As the name suggests, share houses are rental properties where residents have their own bedroom and bathroom while sharing common areas like cooking and living spaces. Some more spacious houses will sometimes have a gym or a garden! Rent and utility expenses are shared between all the residents, and rooms are entirely furnished, making it a cheaper alternative to renting and furnishing conventional apartments in Japan.
In the past, the few Japanese residents who would live in these houses would typically be those that wanted to study English or were looking for foreign friends. Still, now many of these co-living spaces cater to a variety of residents with similar philosophical values and common interests. This can create an inviting community for those who’ve just landed in Japan and are looking to make new foreign or Japanese friends and provide exciting networking opportunities for working professionals all under one roof!
How Much Does it Cost to Living at a Share House in Japan?
Countless websites talk about the affordability of share houses, but what are the costs exactly? Can a full-time student working part-time or a digital nomad be able to afford to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities?
In today’s market, some reputable share house establishments offer a variety of prices and quality of living space. Location is the most significant factor influencing rent in urban centers.
See the table below showing a comparison of the costs and fees between two different share houses and a private apartment in Tokyo.
|Fees||Takenotsuka III B Share House||Arden Itabashi Share House||One Room Apartment in Share House Nakano, Tokyo|
|Utilities||Included in rent||¥12,000||¥6,000 ~ ¥12,000 + installation fees|
|Property Maintenance Fee||Included in rent||Included in rent||¥3,500|
|*Real Estate / Management Fee||¥15,000 to ¥35,000||¥0||¥71,000|
|*Cleaning Fee||¥0 If moving out within 3 months, there’s a fee of ¥20,000 + tax||¥25,000 *Deducted from deposit*||¥30,000 ~ ¥70,000|
|Guarantor||Not Required||Not Required||Required|
|Property Notes||A two-story share-house with 11 private rooms. Rooms are fully furnished with a single bed, air conditioner/heater, desk, chair, light, fridge and TV. Cleaning staff come in to clean common areas, showers and toilets once a week. Located in a quiet residential area, 40 minutes away from Tokyo Station.||A four-story building with 12 private rooms. Rooms are fully furnished with a single bed, air conditioner/heater, desk, chair, bookshelf and wardrobe. Other facilities include gardening space, terrace and rooftop. Located in a residential area, 30 minutes away from Tokyo Station. Minimum 3-month lease.||Unfurnished 1K apartment with a small balcony, located 45 minutes away from Tokyo Station. The closest station is only 6 min away. The apartment includes separate bathroom and toilet, air conditioner/heater, reheatable bathtubs and wooden flooring. There’s also a free bicycle parking area. New Building (6 years). Minimum 1 year lease.|
*These are initial move-in fees.
Moving into a conventional apartment in Japan is an expensive operation, usually costing on average six months’ worth of rent and having to shoulder the costs of furnishing the place. By giving up some privacy, budget travelers, students, and young professionals can live fuller lives in high-cost cities like Tokyo without burning through their savings.
What Are the Advantages of Living in a Share House?
Share house is an Economical Accommodation
Share houses are a real value for money, which may be why so many people choose co-living over private rental properties. The rates offered at share houses are much lower than those of Japanese apartments since most expenses such as internet, electricity, water, gas, and maintenance costs are included in the rental fees. Some costly move-in expenses such as key money and agency fees (which can end up costing up to 3 months of rent) are wholly excluded, making share houses an affordable solution to the rental property market for young professionals.
On average, in 2022, a small 1 room apartment in Tokyo can cost from 60,000 to 140,000 yen, whereas share house prices can range from 30,000 to 90,000 yen per month for a room.
You Get More Space
City apartments in Japan are ‘cozy,’ to say the least. An average 1DK apartment in Tokyo is less than 30 square meters (323 sq. ft), as shown in this article comparing the average living space in apartments in Japan. However, with share houses, residents will always have more square footage overall to live in and at a lower price. Residents can still have privacy in their rooms while sharing spacious communal areas such as the kitchen and living room. Some share houses can also have office spaces, rooftops, entertainment areas, gardens, and even gyms.
Easy to Make Friends
There are countless opportunities to meet new people in a share house, whether it’s a social gathering where neighbors get together to cook or share a meal, go on organized excursions, or simply start chatting with a chance hallway meeting.
These places have a great sense of community and can make residents feel like they belong there.
Not only are these co-living spaces the perfect way to meet people from all corners of the world who share similar interests to you, but it’s also an ideal way to continue your professional growth outside the office. Share houses attract many different types of people, from digital nomads, world travelers, young Japanese entrepreneurs, and students to expats looking to make their mark in Japan. This creates a stimulating environment where like-minded people can interact and form relationships.
Find Your Perfect Language Partner
Many Japanese people choose to live in a share house during their studies. Having a native Japanese speaker for a roommate is a great way to practice Japanese and discover Japan through the eyes of a local.
You Can Rent a Room at a Great Location
Share houses might be an upcoming housing trend, but they are very well established in Japan. A range of co-living accommodations can be found in large cities across Japan. They’re often close to train stations, shops, and city centers, making work, travel, and study super convenient and affordable. You can find a room in a share house in trendy locations such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shimokitazawa, or Ikebukuro.
Some share houses will cater to particular interests such as travel, sports, and cooking. Some will specialize in the residents that common stay there, such as digital nomads and aspiring young IT professionals, by providing them with optic fiber internet, co-working spaces, printers, and scanners. There are also share houses that aim to help single mothers by having an affordable daycare center in the building.
What Are the Disadvantages of Share Houses?
You Can’t Choose Your Roommates
Being open-minded and flexible to others is a big part of living in a community! Before agreeing to lease a room in a share house, you’ll always be able to see the space, but you won’t necessarily meet all your roommates in advance! Living with other strangers won’t cause significant issues in most cases, but different people have different personal boundaries and habits. There might be times when neighbors may be noisy or too lazy to wash their dishes after a meal.
Share House is Not Suitable for Everyone
These co-living spaces are often run by companies that have created a response to the increasing number of young people moving to cities in search of work, study, or travel purposes. They offer a higher quality of life for a lower budget. Though it’s highly recommended for tourists and travelers staying for more than a month in Japan, it may not be suitable for large traveling groups or families since the rooms available are often limited to no more than two people.
Minimum 1 Month Lease
Travelers staying for less than one month in Japan will have difficulty finding a share house to accommodate them as most of them have a 30-day minimum rental lease.
How to Choose the Right Share House for You
When looking around and weighing out your options for your new accommodation, there are several factors to consider.
Finding a reliable management company is the first step to looking for a well-managed and organized share house that will accommodate your lifestyle and not be the root of stress. Having an agent who answers your questions quickly via email directly indicates how they’ll respond to issues on the property, such as a broken heater or frozen water pipe. When interacting with agents from these companies, note how responsive they are, how well they know the properties, and how often they visit. If the management company seems unreliable, it’s better to move on.
Depending on the location and access to the nearest train station, especially if it’s one where the limited express train stops, it will influence the rental price. Consider how far you’re prepared to travel for work or study, and don’t forget about access to daily necessities such as a supermarket and convenience store. Management companies understand that share houses with central locations are more desirable, so to compete, they often offer co-living spaces in newer buildings with lower rent.
Before signing any contract, you must understand exactly what you agree to. Make sure to understand the type of contract you’re signing, whether a fixed-term or a regular rental contract, the due fees, and the house rules. The contract must be specific to prevent any loopholes or scams from both parties.
Recently, with the increasing need for co-living spaces in larger cities, it has given way to the emergence of share houses catering to specific markets such as woman-only buildings, pet-friendly properties, remote-worker-friendly houses, etc. Ensure you understand the rules of each share house you’re applying to. For example, no male overnight guests are allowed in a woman-only place. Are there exceptions for family members? Can a male friend come over to hang out? Understanding the house rules in advance can help avoid potential misunderstandings amongst roommates.
Viewing a share house before signing a lease is very important! Make sure to make an appointment to view the property to get a feel for the atmosphere of the place and see the kind of people staying there. Is it a quiet and relaxed house? Do they have many events and parties? What’s the ratio of foreigners to Japanese people living there? These are some things you can take note of from just stepping foot on the property and talking to the share house manager.
Where To Find a Room in a Share House?
If the idea of sharing accommodation during your next stay in Japan appeals to you, here are some sites that may interest you. Co-living is a modern way of living that encourages a sense of community, using shared spaces and resources to create a more convenient and fulfilling lifestyle. Below is a list of recommended management companies that provide co-living spaces throughout Japan. It’s possible to search for a share house by location, train line, budget, and equipment.
They are one of Tokyo’s most comprehensive ranges of co-living spaces for different budgets. A fun feature of their site is searching share houses by themes!
First launched in 1992, they offer a variety of share houses and apartments for rent in the Kanto region and, most recently, Kyoto. Prices can be higher than other management companies, but they are known to provide comfortable and welcoming rooms.
This company is well known across Asia; they also offer co-living spaces in Korea and Taiwan. They have many share houses in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe). However, Borderless only accepts tenants who are staying for three months or longer.
If you’re looking to live outside of Tokyo, Sharehouse has a range of options, from the tropical island of Okinawa to the land of powder snow, Hokkaido.