Thursday, June 20, 2013

Japan: Company Housing vs. Your Own Place

Happy Tsuyu (Rainy Season) everyone! It's full blown at the moment here in Yokohama. I thought I would write a post about the pros and cons of living in company housing and your own place. Last year, I wrote a post about my company apartment (HERE). I think this is something that I am sure people coming to Japan for the first time consider if they are given the choice. It is something I considered when I changed jobs. While Interac did offer to find me an apartment that would be 'mine' I really wouldn't have any choice in the actual unit. I am sure that there are lists like this on the web, but I'm posting my own opinions.

The Pros of Company Housing:
  • Usually no deposit.
  • Usually no key money.
  • Usually no paperwork.
  • Usually furnished including appliances.
  • May be subsidized. 

The Pros of Your Own Place:
  • You can choose where you live.
  • You can see the actual lease (if you can read or have someone with you to translate it).
  • Your stuff is YOURS.
  • You can usually make an appointment to have your Internet set up the day you move in if you already have an existing NTT account.
  • You can choose move in date. 

The Cons of Company Housing:
  • Anything the apartment comes with is NOT YOURS (except the bedding I guess...).
  • If you break an appliance, you might have to pay out of pocket to replace it. Warranties are probably expired.
  • You have no clue what the place might be like.
  • Rent might not be subsidized, and you have no clue if your company is charging you more for rent or not (demand to see the lease if possible if your rent is not subsidized). This is illegal I am pretty sure. The only time I ever saw an actual rent price before was when AEON moved me and showed me two or three places to choose from.
  • Your company might charge you deposits, etc., if it is a new lease.

The Cons of Your Own Place:
  • Expensive fees are likely (I payed about ¥190,000 to move into my place).
  • You usually need to get your own appliances, furniture, etc (more money! yay!).
  • Paperwork nightmares are likely.
  • As a foreigner, it is more difficult to rent a place on your own in general.
  • You are responsible for calling the water, gas, propane, whoever people to turn things on and set up the accounts.
Now, moving on to my own opinion. I prefer having my own place. Granted, the apartment is in Aki's name, so I didn't have any issues with guarantor gaijin-phobic landlords (whom I did meet anyway). It was not cheap, but it was worth it. I am living in a brand new apartment, with new everything. I am so comfortable, and my rent is actually a little cheaper than it was in the AEON housing. Here are some pictures:

 My kitchen/hall. It is a bit smaller than I would have liked, but it is bigger than my previous two places.

 My fridge is MINE! It's quite large with a freezer on the bottom. And yes, those are Shiner Bock coasters I made into magnets. And a tie-dye San Antonio monkey.

 I have a much larger shower/bath now.
My toilet has a heater. No more freezing in the winter. And a cabinet! FINALLY!!!

 The sink is actually separate from the shower area. It's like it's own little room.
 My living room. Not such a matchbox anymore. Rainy season so lots of drying laundry inside.

 The ladder that leads up into my loft.
 It's huge!! And not too hot because it is very spacious and open. Some lofts get excruciatingly hot because they are tiny with small opening.
 The other side of the loft.
 For shits and giggles.

Overall, it was worth it. If you look at my post about my old place, you can see for yourself. If you are first arriving, and have the choice and the means, I would highly recommend getting your own place without company assistance. I like the fact that my company doesn't know more about my place than my address. However, if I were coming fresh off the boat, no Japanese language or friends, I would just go with the company housing for simplicity's sake.


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