Tokyo is home to many interesting and beautiful places, and it is a popular residential area for locals and foreigners alike. However, we all know that the more popular the area, the more expensive rent is. So are there any good places around Tokyo that are suitable for living while still being affordable?
Every year, a large Japanese real estate company called Recruit Sumai Company (株式会社リクルート住まいカンパニー) conducts a survey and comes out with a ranking of “The Most Desirable Place to Live in the Kanto Region.” In 2018, Kanagawa Prefecture’s Yokohama City topped the list. However, apart from the most desirable place to live, the survey also asks residents about their recommended hidden gems in the region. Check out the top 3 in Kanto that gained the most recommendations in 2018!
Kitasenju in the Adachi Ward of Tokyo has placed first among the hidden gems in the Kanto region for three consecutive years! Five train lines serve the area and it only takes 15 minutes to get to Tokyo Station.
Kitasenju is home to plenty of commercial facilities – not only does it have four large shopping malls but also retro shopping streets. You can find 15 convenience stores, 14 cafes, seven supermarkets, and five drugstores within just 500 meters from the station.
Kitasenju is also known as “Shitamachi,” which roughly translates to “simple old town” in English. There is a street called “Nomiyayokocho (飲み屋横丁)” that is brimming with izakaya or Japanese pubs. If you would like to have a drink after work, Kitasenju is the ideal place.
For people who like history and culture, you can find classical buildings from the Edo period here, such as the Yokoyama Family House and the Yoshida Family House. There are also many cozy cafes along the shopping street – one of which is Chaka, a well-known pancake cafe that often has a long queue forming outside before it even opens!
Are you worried about the population of the elderly in Kitasenju? Don’t be! In fact, a lot of students live in this area as there are many universities here such as Tokyo Denki University, Tokyo University of the Arts, and Teikyo University of Science, so you can expect the place to be full of energy.
Although Kitasenju has convenient facilities, it is not as famous as other areas so the rent is relatively low. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment here is around 66,000 yen (approximately 74,000 yen in Yokohama). For apartments with two bedrooms, the monthly rent is around 129,000 yen, which is half the price of Kichijoji! It is no wonder why Kitasenju topped the 2018 list of hidden gems in Kanto.
In the second place is Akabane, located in the northern part of Tokyo. There are four train lines serving this area and it takes only seven minutes to Ikebukuro. From Akabane, you can go to many places in Central Tokyo within 30 minutes by train.
Although not a trendy place, you can easily find daily necessities in Akabane as it has three shopping malls, a department store, and some shopping streets. For culture and leisure, the Akabane Hachiman Shrine and Akabane Nature Observation Park are available for you to stroll around.
Like Kitasenju, Akabane has a shopping street famous for izakaya called “Akabane Ichiban-gai Shopping District (赤羽一番街商店街).” This retro street has many restaurants selling yakitori, oden, and other food as well as drinks for you to enjoy.
Did you know that Akabane’s relaxing atmosphere actually attracts many Japanese girls? In fact, it is the no. 1 place where girls feel comfortable walking on the street without any makeup.
If you want to know more about Akabane, there is a manga entitled, Tokyo-to Kita-ku Akabane, that tells the story of the author’s life in this area of the city. In 2015, the manga was adapted into a live-action TV series, Takayuki Yamada in Tokyo-to Kita-ku Akabane, where Japanese actor Yamada Takayuki visits the characters mentioned in the comic. You will see the characteristics of this community in both the manga and drama.
As for rent, the average monthly price of a studio apartment here is about 70,000 yen, and apartments with two bedrooms cost about 170,000 yen – a bit more expensive than Kitasenju, but still a good choice for living.
In the third place is Wakoshi in Saitama Prefecture. Although technically not in Tokyo, there are three train lines serving the area and it only takes 13 minutes to reach Ikebukuro. There are many shops and facilities around Wakoshi Station such as a bank, a bookstore, and supermarkets that will fulfill your needs for living.
One of the advantages of Wakoshi is the beautiful natural scenery. The 20-hectare Wakojurin Park is an ideal place to relax as it has vast grass fields as well as a barbecue area and jogging paths.
Additionally, there is a place called “Niikura Furusato Minkaen (新倉ふるさと民家園),” which was reconstructed from an old Edo house, displaying Japanese culture and traditions to the public. You can join some craft workshops or seasonal activities here.
Wakoshi is a nice place for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment here is about 66,000 yen, and apartments with two bedrooms cost about 114,000 yen – which is rather affordable compared to other places.
When looking for a place to live, it is also necessary to check the location and surrounding environment more than just the interior. The places introduced above are remarkably popular among local people for many reasons, so if you are planning to live in or around Tokyo, how about considering them?