A mid-term resident of Tokyo reports – Part 5: Home base

 This is part 5 of what is intended to be a collection of overview reports on living in Tokyo by someone who is here for longer than a short stay but shorter than a long stay. Hopefully they will be helpful to others in similar situations.

 The odds are good that if you are living inTokyofor no more than several months you will be in some form of temporary accommodation through an agency rathar than actually leasing an apartment directly.  There are lots of reasons for this, but the primary one is that with the various fees and deposits required it can be quite expensive and quite a hassle to set up a flat only to leave in a few months.  Fortunately, there are enough people in this situation thatTokyohas a thriving market in temporary accommodations ranging from fully serviced furnished flats to unfurnished rooms.  Put basically, all of them will be expensive.  Some more so than others … so budget is a huge factor. 

 Next comes location.  Transportation is probably the largest factor in this – it is good to be on a direct route to work as well as into the city.  Noise and light comes in next, and it is incredible how effective some windows and blinds are at blocking out the noise and lights of the city, but that has to be considered on a room by room basis.  Groceries would be next on my list; having a 24 hour grocery store on the ground floor of your building, or across the street, is incredibly helpful.   A convenience store is a reasonable substitute if you don’t tend to do much in the kitchen.  While on the topic, I would also add other shopping to the mix – having a 100 Yen shop or two in the area, and a budget department store such as Aeon or Cainz, makes it really easy to pick up the little things that you inevitably need as you settle in.  Finally, it is worth picking somewhere that is livable – Roppongi may be a great place to go for a night out, but do you really feel like having to walk the gauntlet of doormen back and forth to your flat everyday? 

 Once you have a location and a budget sorted out, the great trade of amenities starts.  Some of the things I have noticed in my flat that seem worth mentioning:

  • A place to hang clothes to dry – My flat has a very modern and clean design, with the result that there are no places to hang anything up to dry.  Door molding is flush with the ceiling, and the shower has a floor to ceiling glass door so there isn’t even a shower curtain rod to hang things off of. 
  • Counter space is at a premium, so pull-out work surfaces or off-counter storage is a big bonus.
  • The dishwasher is only big enough for the dishes from a dinner for 2, so I would opt not to have one and have extra storage instead. 
  • Hard beds – I am convinced that the floor is softer than some of the beds I have slept on here. A good mattress topper goes a long way.
  • Design height – most furniture and built-in features will be sized for a Japanese body… which happens to be a bit smaller than most western bodies.  A comfortable desk and chair height is critical.

 Those are my top 5, but they are simply examples of the types of things to keep an eye out for. 

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