Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apartment hunting in Tokyo: The Search Commences

Now that Matcha-kun and I have decided to live together, the hunt is on for a Tokyo apartment large enough to accommodate two slightly oversized people. And I am thrilled, there are few things I like more than looking at oodles of real estate.

However, this does not mean that this is a simple endeavor. While Matcha-kun's requirement list is quite short (as large as possible, nearish a useful train line), mine is a little more elaborate: as new as possible, 2nd floor or higher up, no tatami, lots of storage, quiet, if possible near some greenery. Finding a 2LDK within budget is going to be challenging.

The first hunting trips have been an eye opening experience. I have found that, in general, architects seem to think storage is optional, and that double glazed windows are a rarity, even when the apartment is near a major thoroughfare. 

Also, dealing with real estate agents is an exercise in patience. Although I get that this is partly due to the fact that Matcha-kun will probably be the one with his name on the lease (as being a Japanese national makes it easier), agents only ask him questions. I will be paying half the rent (a fact we explained) and yet they don't ask what my job is, where I work or anything. Since we have let them know that I will be the one deciding on the apartment, as my requirements are more numerous and am more familiar with real estate, this seems like bad business practice. 

When I showed up alone to look at a rather expensive place, Mr. Agent was all nervously aflutter about the fact my 'goshujin' (husband... yeah, ugh) wasn't with me. It is all so very heteronormative and annoying, but such is life.

It seems like each place we/I have visited has a major minus flaw or two. The gorgeous designer apartment was far too small for two people. The two incredibly large flats were either in a building that looks like a set from The Ring or right in front of a major noisy street. The house(!) had the most ridiculous layout and no space for a fridge... along with the most hideous floral wallpaper I have had the doubtful pleasure to set eyes on.

Next week is another round, wish me luck!


  1. I experienced the same! From some reason sellers/agents really like to only focus on the male side even though women are the ones who actually decide...hehe. It made me so frustrated! I wonder if that's how they treat couples where both parties are Japanese... :P
    Btw, if it's possible for you, I would recommend to buy rather than rent. I know it sounds insane, but in reality buying here is way cheaper and not only in the long-term (at least 50,000yen payment difference per month) *_*;;

    1. Hi MWC,

      It truly is annoying.... I have done sales, and rule N.1 is 'know who holds the power'. Which would be me (^_−)−☆

      As for buying, ultimately that is what I want to do...but for the moment renting is a less permanent bet

  2. My husband and I had a similar experience. I was the one with specifications for the apartment (2LDK, no tatami, 2nd floor or higher, balcony facing the rising sun, within a 5 min walk of the station), they only asked my husband.
    Ok. Sure.
    The first question they asked me (well, not even me, but at my husband TOWARD me) was "Are you two roommates?" The person at the computer seemed surprised to hear we were married.
    Our first personal agent asked the same thing (if we were doing a "roomshare" program) and our future landlady asked if we were roommates, sleeping in the separate rooms (while she was advising me which room was better "for a girl.")

    It was a whole day of me trying really hard not to get offended at everything. Ugh.

    1. Yeah, finally I quit the first real estate agency. The second one was much more with it. Your case was probably due to age, sorry to say. In our case everyone assumed we were either married or engaged (despite lack of rings or, you know, a shared last name).
      But alls well that ends well, right?