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So what actually is a Sharehouse?
2019.10.05

Hello everyone! Welcome to my new blog about sharehouse life in Japan.

While I hope many sorts of people will enjoy my posts, this blog is especially for those Americans (and Westerners in general) who are looking to travel/move to Japan sometime soon and want some tips on how to navigate a country as amazing and amazingly different as Japan. Living in Japan for any period of time as a non-native can be a difficult and discombobulating experience (kind of like that word itself, huh?). I hope my blog might make it a bit easier! I'll be covering everything from living and travel options to Japanese language learning tips to fun travel recommendations. Thanks for taking this ride with me!

Yokohama Night

First order of business: the Sharehouse.

In Japan the word "sharehouse" is actually written thus ( シェアハウス  ) in katakana (the syllabary for foreign words) which means it's not a Japanese word at all. It's undoubtedly made up of the English words "share" and "house" which definitely puts foreigners on the right path to figuring out what this dorm-like apartment complex is. However, at least in America this isn't a word we use. We don't really have sharehouses, so the first time I came to Japan I didn't really know what this living option meant for me. Did I want to live there? How can you find one? Rent a room? In this post I'll answer these important questions!

Basically, if you're an American, you can think of the typical sharehouse building as a college dorm. Residents usually have their own rooms (though some sharehouses have shared dormitory room options) and use shared hall bathrooms/laundry room/kitchen/living room etc. Each sharehouse will have different size personal rooms and different sorts of shared spaces. Some places might have a theater room or a rooftop garden or even a gym. Also like college dorms, the "quality" of sharehouses varies widely, usually by how much you're willing to pay. But even fancy sharehouses can be much cheaper than apartments in Japan, and they provide unique social opportunities.

But how are sharehouses different from college dorms? Mainly, because of the people who live there. Sharehouses are not at all connected to universities or schools. They are run often by large sharehouse companies, though sometimes by single individuals. Small "sharehouses" can be really just glorified Airbnbs, and large sharehouses can feel like a hotel. The people that live in sharehouses usually range in age from 18 to 40, though you'll primarily find people in their 20/30s. Most are single people in their first jobs looking to make friends and save money on rent.

If you search "sharehouse (insert name of Japanese city)" you're likely to find several sharehouse search engines. It can be difficult to figure out where the sharehouse is exactly (for safety reasons the address isn't posted) but they will always tell you how far the sharehouse is from the nearest train/bus station. If you use Google Maps you can easily find out how far that train station (and by extension, that sharehouse) is from your new place of work/school/travel destination. Even sharehouses pretty far outside a city can be very accessible by train! I recommend deciding which train line works best for your morning commute, then looking for sharehouses along that route.

But is a sharehouse right for you? Well, that's something only you can decide. I got used to living in a lively Greek house dorm all through college, so I get lonely on my own. Plus, Japanese apartments are small, and I much prefer larger social spaces to smaller private spaces. Especially if you'll only be in Japan a short time, sharehouses make a lot of sense because they come with so many things you don't have to buy or worry about! Kitchen utensils and tableware come included, as does furniture and refrigerator space (in most houses, make sure you check!). Most sharehouses also set rent to include everything, so you don't have to go through the nightmare of trying to set up water/gas/electricity/wifi services in Japanese. Most sharehouses have managers that can speak at least some English, so usually you can reserve a room in English via email or online. Remember, research is your best friend! There are some really great and cheap places out there to find if you're willing to put in the work.

Next time I'll introduce you guys to the sharehouse I'm living in, Flora Yokohama Hoshikawa! Let me know if you have any questions on sharehouses in general. Until next time!

Heather
Date posted :
2019.10.05
Poster :
Heather

Author profile

American, 22. Recent college graduate studying Japanese in Yokohama! Loves action movies, baking, traveling, writing, and eating good desserts.