Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live with Japanese people in Japan? Or, maybe you do but you are a little strapped on cash? Well, don’t fret because you can indulge on one living option that can allow you to live with Japanese people at a low cost, and is abundant with other merits as well: the international sharehouse!
A sharehouse is a place in which you can have your own room (or share with others) but access to the shower, bathroom, living room, laundry must be shared among the others living in your house. At first you may think the setting is similar to a college dormitory, but the difference is that most sharehouses limit applicants to those in their 20s and 30s so you will have a chance to live with students as well as working people. As the core mission of a sharehouse is to encourage intercultural living, sharehouses encourage people of all nationalities to stay. Although the idea of a sharehouse may seem like it came from Western influences, actually it was the 2012 reality show Terrace House (an unscripted drama based on 6 guys and girls living in the same sharehouse) that popularized the idea of “shared living.”
There are quite a few good points about living in a sharehouse which I will detail below.
1. Roommates of different backgrounds
As can be expected in most sharehouses, you can look forward to learning about different cultures by living with people of all backgrounds and professions. The more people in a sharehouse, the more varied and interesting life can be! Also, one major merit is the possibility of meeting your future boyfriend or girlfriend if your house is co-ed.
Also, because there most likely will be at least one Japanese person in your sharehouse, you can feel a bit safer knowing that you can always go to them for help whether it be translating your latest phone bill or if helping you reserve a hotel for your trip to Osaka. This is definitely a good place to develop your Japanese skills if you are new to Japan or learn English if you are Japanese!
2. Room Types
You can choose between having your own room if you want maximum privacy or if your policy is the more the merrier, you can choose to sleep in bunk beds with up to 7 other roommates! Depending on the house, some rooms may even be nestled in some corners far enough from the commotion in the common area but close enough to get in on the action if you feel like it!
3. Low cost
Usually there is no need for a key money deposit, real estate agency fee, or guarantor (only some places). Also, utilities such as water, power, gas, internet are included so you will be able to save a lot!
This also means you get to live in central Tokyo at a much lower cost than if you were to live alone in a high-rise apartment building in Shinjuku, for example. The rooms are also furnished with basics: a bed, closet, desk, and chair so you don’t need to worry about getting rid of those when you move. Some houses even have cute furniture!
4. You don’t have to clean the place (most)
Many sharehouses usually have a cleaner who will come a few times a month to clean the common areas, such as bathroom, shower, kitchen, living room. This means you can come home to a freshly cleaned house!
5. Themed sharehouses
Recently, themed sharehouses are becoming ever more popular. Of course there are the usual “women only” or “English learning sharehouse” type of sharehouses, but now the variety is gradually flourishing along with the rise in demand. A few examples of themed houses are:
Share la cat: A sharehouse in which you can bring your cat. Share la cat*Automatic translation
Fespa Magome: A “Japanese culture sharehouse” in which the concept is to allow non-Japanese to learn more about Japanese culture. You can rent a yukata, read bilingual manga, and the house even has cultural events such as calligraphy classes, zen meditation, etc. Fespa Magome
This company, Irodori Factory is especially innovative in that they currently have an Entrepreneurs only sharehouse, Gardening sharehouse, as well as many others based on interesting concepts that are relevant to Japanese society, such as Beauty and Diet.
6. Short term stay, no binding contracts
Unlike the typical apartment in which you must sign a 2 year contract, some sharehouses can let you stay from as short a term as two weeks up to 5 or more years! All you have to do is notify the sharehouse company one month in advance before you leave!
7. Access to special amenities and events!
You can enjoy some extra amenities that might be hard for you to purchase on your own, such as a large screen TV, a shared computer, pool table, darts bar, even theater room! However, these items are usually in the common area so you have to share, but hey, it would be more fun to play darts with your new housemates anyway!
Also many sharehouses have monthly or seasonal events which you can partake in and have fun with your housemates! Halloween parties are quite popular.
Sometimes life in Japan is not all fun and games, but if you live in a sharehouse it’s possible to share those down times as well as have fun with new friends in your international sharehouse!
No matter how short or how long you stay, you are bound to have met friends who will last for a lifetime. Plus, you will definitely come across interesting characters and have a bunch of hilarious stories to bring back home (if you ever chance to leave the sharehouse lifestyle, that is!)