The convenience of share houses:
When most new comers to Japan might think of renting an apartment, the country in fact offers more than one option when it comes to living spaces. Share houses are most certainly a very popular choice for young people freshly arrived in the country or a new city. They consist of small rooms with separate shared spaces such as bathrooms, a kitchen, a living-room, but they can also have a theme. For instance, the “athlete share house” which will include a gym and other sports equipment or the “music share house” with a music room providing all sorts of musical instruments.
Their appeal is also due to the flexibility their tenancy contracts offer. Indeed, tenants, based on the contract they will sign, are free to leave whenever they please and do not need to commit to the classic 12 or 24-month contract. An other attractive benefit for people on a budget is the fact that renting a room in a share house does not entail you high fees upfront as opposed to moving in your own apartment. The latter usually requires exorbitant deposit, key money and agency fees if you are moving in a city like Tokyo.
Socialising in a new city:
Although house shares which are popular in the West and more particularly in expensive cities like London are quite uncommon in Japan, share houses offer the same opportunity to not feel lonely if you move in a new city. Undeniably, hanging out in the common spaces will earn you some friends as that’s usually the reason why other tenants spend so much time in there. Do not be surprised if the first interaction which consists in greetings ends up with an evening of drinking. The management might even organise the occasional parties to enable everyone to get to know each other.
Whether it’s in the kitchen, the bar or the theatre (the fancier the share house the more original common spaces you will find) people will be more than happy to get to know you even if they might come across as a little shy at first. A very effective way to break the ice with Japanese people is to share food as you will never meet a nation more obsessed with any sort of victuals. Likewise they are also very generous when they want you to try what they have made or bought, but do not forget to tell them how oishii it tastes. Living in a share house proved to create strong connections and true friendships with people from a variety of countries.
Practising your language skills:
As a natural corollary to socialising, living in a share house will give everyone the opportunity to practise their language skills. This is in fact a major perk for people who cannot find a chance to speak English or Japanese on a daily basis. So what better way to practise your language skills than having real life conversations with your non-judgmental neighbours. Japanese people can finally try to converse in English and make use of those long and tedious grammar lessons while foreigners can for a minute drop the keigo learned in their Japanese course and speak the casual way young people do. It is also a real opportunity to live in a multicultural environment as foreigners consist of a multiple nationalities who came from different parts of the world. And from a foreign perspective it is a unique place where you will meet Japanese people from other prefectures and you will find out that the inhabitants of Okinawa can be very different from those of Kyushu or Osaka.
Finding a boyfriend / girlfriend:
Last but not least, many single people admit that moving into a share house might potentially lead to finding a girlfriend or boyfriend or even “the one”. That would also explain the “share house hoping” that some people seem to practise. So, whatever your reasons a share house is always a great choice for your first steps in Japan.