For those on a yearlong visa, renting a normal apartment is usually a no-go. 2 year contracts are necessary and initial costs can go through the roof. Often they 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.
Hostels are traditionally the go-to accommodation of working holiday makers. 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.
But of course, a working holiday isn’t just about the ‘holiday’ part, for most people it’s also necessary to work. In order to get a job you’ll probably have to stick around one place for at least a few months. 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 a chunk from the rent, it can hike the prices up.
But with apartments and hostels out of the mix, where can working holiday makers stay at a reasonable price?
The answer to that is 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 usually 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!
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