IUC Series: Housing – Monthly Mansion vs. Apartment

Photo by Alissa Murray

Wondering what to do about IUC housing? We plan on featuring a couple different articles on the subject with all the basic info you need! A guest contributor here at Shinpai Deshou, Karen will be starting us off. Enjoy!

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When considering where to live for the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama, among other options, you might consider a Monthly Mansion, which are furnished rooms or apartments, or finding an apartment.  I lived in three different places during my time at IUC.  Two of those three were in Monthly Mansions and the other was a regular apartment.  In addition to the living arrangement information that IUC provides you with, I have listed below the different qualities of each place that I lived as I observed them.  I hope that you might find this helpful if you are considering a Monthly Mansion, apartment, or different option.

Monthly Mansion

Monthly Mansion Pros:

Renting a Monthly Mansion with the help of the IUC requires minimal set-up and planning on your part.  Not only is this a living option that can be easily arranged outside of Japan, once you do arrive the room is ready for immediate use, including utilities.   Your fees include the utilities and furnishing for these places, so you do not need to worry about paying individual living expense bills.

Weekly Mansion Tokyo “Sakuragi-cho Part 1”

Price: averages $1,000/month

Location:  Sakuragicho, easy walk from Sakuragicho-eki

IUC Transportation: About 20min walking distance

Space:
Small.  Very small.  You might find yourself cramped, especially if you plan to be there for an extended period of time.

Internet:
Although this place provides you with Internet access, when I lived there the connection was so slow that I could not load my e-mail to check it on a regular basis and Skype was out of the question.  I do not know the situation now.

Pros:
Compared to other places, this one was quiet.  It is not located on the main road, which helps to decrease noise from the surrounding area.

You can pay your bill directly to the front desk staff.

Cons:
Aside from the Internet problem and small living area, the biggest one for me was that there was no kitchen.  One fellow IUC student did not like to cook and ate out or got take-out everyday, but I wanted to be able to cook easily and could not.

You should also be aware that guests are supposed to be checked in at the front desk and guest hours end at 9pm.They do have coin laundry in the building, but there is no laundry machine in your room.

Yokohama Monthly “Sakuragi-cho HG-2”

Price: averages $2,400/month

Location: Sakuragicho, 5min. walk from Sakuragicho-eki

IUC Transportation: About 20min walking distance

Space:
For Japan, very spacious.  This place had a main bedroom, a small kitchen, and a very nice bathroom.  It was great and would have been a great place to live the whole time.

Internet:
High-speed Internet access.  I experienced no problems with my Internet.

Pros:
In addition to the basics, this place comes with a microwave, medium-sized refrigerator, basic kitchen utensils, rice-cooker, and laundry machine.

You were also allowed to have guests over at any time and they could spend the night without any additional fee.

Cons:
For the place I lived in, you needed to pay the main office the rent money.  This means that each month you need to make a trip to the office, which is about a 7min walk from Yokohama-eki (one station away from Sakuragicho-eki).  This is not a very big con, but something to consider.

The biggest con for me was the noise.  My building was located on the main road, so I had some trouble with the traffic noise at night.  Heavier sleepers probably will not have this problem, but lighter sleepers might think about a comfortable set of ear-plugs.

Apartment Found through Realtor

Price: average $800/month plus several fees at the beginning.  Plan to spend upwards of $2,800 at the beginning.  While this is a lot of money upfront, taking into consideration the lower cost of monthly rent as compared to the Monthly Mansion option meant that I paid only a little more than I would have if I had stayed with the $1,000/month Monthly Mansion.

Location: Anywhere you can find one.  My apartment was very conveniently located in Noge-cho, just across the street and a one block away from the $2,000/month Monthly Mansion.

IUC Transportation: Depends on location.  Mine was about a 20min walk .

Pros:
It is your apartment, so barring any big changes and not damaging it, you can do anything you want with it.  The place I found was only a few years old, had a nice little kitchen, and a great modern bathroom.

Finding your own apartment, in my opinion, is a better value for your money than a Monthly Mansion.  However, an apartment does involve more work on your end to find and acquire.

Cons:
The biggest con is probably finding an apartment.  I have listed some helpful sites below, but you will still need to go to a realtor, discuss your options, and go through the process of proving you can pay for the apartment for the rental period of time.

Unlike the Monthly Mansions, most apartments come completely unfurnished (including washer and refrigerator).  It is not difficult to rent furniture and not very expensive either.

You will need to set-up Internet on your own.  I found that getting the wireless Internet option now available through cell phone companies was the best option.  It was reasonably priced, provided good speed, and allowed me to avoid the hassle and long process of hikarifaibaa (light fiber) installation.

In Sum

There are several different options for living arrangements for IUC outside of a Monthly Mansion or finding an apartment.  In sum, choosing a Monthly Mansion is among the easiest things to do since it does not require you to use Japanese or be in Japan to arrange it.  The Monthly Mansion also handles all of the utilities for you and is set-up upon arrival.  Finding an apartment, on the other hand, requires you to interact in Japanese with the realtors, set up your own utilities and Internet, and furnish your place.  Despite all of that, an apartment can be a great deal and allow you more freedom than a Monthly Mansion, particularly if you cannot afford the more expensive Monthly Mansion option.  There are other living arrangements available for IUC, but if you are considering either a Monthly Mansion or finding an apartment, I hope that some of this information has helped you weigh the possibilities.

Useful Links:

Apartment Search:

http://www.apamanshop.com/
http://www.chintai.net/
http://www.able.co.jp/

Furniture Rental:

http://www.kasite.com
http://www.chintai.net/oyakudachi/rental/

If you’re considering homestay, see Paula’s article on choosing an unaffiliated homestay, which is what she did during her time at the IUC. Coming up we’ll also be featuring similar information as the above on some of the apartments the IUC helps students with renting at a discounted rate.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment!

- Karen C.

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6 Responses to IUC Series: Housing – Monthly Mansion vs. Apartment

  1. Travis says:

    When I attended IUC, four of us rented a house together. We were fortunate, quite lucky, to find this arrangement, as the house was quite new and clean, and everything in it was in a great state of repair. The place came fully furnished, down to plates and silverware, and bedsheets and blankets. About a 20 min walk from Ishikawa-cho Station, or a short bus ride to Sakuragicho, though I almost always biked there.

    The landlord has just contacted me to ask that I spread the word that the place is available again, and I’d be happy to provide further details if anyone is interested.

    But, I feel awkward and apologize for using this space to advertise like that. On a broader note, in terms of advice or whatever for potential IUC students, one thing I would suggest is keeping your eyes open for apartments, sub-lets, or other living arrangements that might be available through your own university community, Asian Studies mailing lists, resident foreigners looking to sub-let, or anything of that sort. There are apartments out there that have been passed, essentially, from one student or visiting scholar to another, ones that are owned by professors or others who are not using them at the moment (away on sabbatical from Japan; not away on sabbatical to Japan; etc.). I can’t say that I know how to find any of these, necessarily, outside of the one house I stayed in myself, but I’m just saying, don’t feel discouraged to think that expensive, cramped weekly/monthly mansion vs expensive and hard-to-find apartment (i.e. through a realtor or the like) are the only options. I found a great place, too, in Kyoto, when I studied at KCJS for the summer, renting a room from a wonderful older couple, grandson of a famous painter, who had converted the second house on their property into a sort of dormitory; my room looked out over the garden, and the place was an easy bike ride from just about anywhere I wanted to go; I am sure that similar situations exist in Yokohama (or elsewhere nearby – Kamakura’s not super mega close to IUC in terms of a daily commute, but could be a wonderful place to live).

    • Paura says:

      Thanks for the information! Sounds like you really got lucky with living arrangements. :) I also have a contact willing to help students find foreigner friendly apartments in Tokyo and Yokohama, but sometimes wonder how to best convey that to people.

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