If you’re planning a working holiday in Japan, accommodation will be high on your list of priorities.
For those on a year long visa, renting a normal apartment is usually a no-go. 2 year contracts are necessary and initial costs can go through the roof. Often landlords will ask for a hefty deposit, plus 2 months’ rent upfront, plus key money, management fees and they will probably ask for a Japanese guarantor. You’re also likely to be hit with the disheartening ‘no foreigners allowed’. For someone on a fun year abroad, this is stress you don’t need.
With apartments out of the mix, where can you stay at a reasonable price? Here are the options:
Hostels are traditionally the go-to accommodation of working holiday makers and backpackers. Much cheaper than a hotel and easier to make friends. This is the best option if you’re only staying very short term to sight-see. Some even let you stay for free in exchange for cleaning duties or other work around the hostel.
If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of privacy, hostels are probably the most affordable option.
But of course, a working holiday isn’t just about the ‘holiday’ part, for most people it’s also necessary to work. The idea of coming back to a rowdy hostel after a long day’s work is a bit unappealing.
These days, many people look to Airbnb, since you can search a range of properties and easily compare prices. Sometimes you can get whole apartments to yourself at a relatively cheap price.
But since the site itself takes commission, it can hike the prices up. The host will probably also just be expecting you to stay short term and you could risk outstaying your welcome.
Compared to the other options, it may also be a bit difficult to make friends.
International Share Houses
International residents are welcomed, as they can contribute to culture and language exchange within the house. Even if a private room is out of your budget, increasingly in big cities like Tokyo, room shares and dormitories are possible, meaning the prices are very reasonable. Unlike normal apartments, short term contracts from 1 month upwards, are very common. You can usually book from abroad, making them perfect for Working Holiday-ers.
In international share houses, you can make friends from all over the world and practice your Japanese in casual, daily life situations with your housemates. By living in this environment, you can learn more about Japanese life and culture than you would in a hostel. They are also safer and cleaner than most cheap hostels. A share house also gives you a stable address to apply at the city hall for health insurance and make a bank account for your income.
A working holiday will probably form one of the best memories of your life and it’s bound to contain a few downs, as well as all the ups. This is what makes it such an adventure. But by snagging some stable accommodation, you can eliminate at least some of the uncertainty!
Airbnb: Norie’s Page