Prior to coming to Japan, my sister and I settled to staying in a dormitory recommended by the school for convenience since we were not familiar with Japan. Little did we know we would have to go through some episodes with those who shared the common areas with us.
We signed the three-month contract and had to decide after just two weeks of being in Japan (one week of which we had spent registering for everything, including to the ward office and even paying for the insurance) whether we wanted to further the contract for another three months. Fortunately we decided to move.
But of course, moving is a great hassle. Firstly when you’re looking for a good place that is most suitable to you, you need to set down some pre-requisites like the rent estimates, the location and what type of place of stay. We determined an apartment for the place to stay as we no longer have faith in sharing common areas with others, an affordable monthly rent (considering also the train fees between school and home, monthly bills and initial payments) and a place situated within five minutes of walking distance to the nearest train station.
It proved to be quite a task to find a good place meant for foreigners as there are not many English-speaking agents. There was even an instance of an English-speaking agent who slacked in her job because she hardly answered my specific questions, delayed in answering and when she did answer, I was informed that she was going to be off work and someone else would be calling my number when I did not even provide a number to begin with. So we proceeded with finding some other more trustworthy agents.
We had our eyes on an apartment in Ikebukuro but while the place would be good enough for one person, it was too small to fit two people. Luckily we were adamant about visiting the site before committing to the room. The place was rather a walk towards the station too. The agent in charge was a very friendly Indonesian who happened to be Muslim and he shared his knowledge of Japan with us. It was unfortunate that we could not proceed with the moving business with him, but we had to find what’s best for us.
After being disappointed about not being able to commit to yet another place with another agent which was near the school because we wanted to see the place before booking it and lost it to someone else, we were recommended another place farther from school by the same agent. From the photos, the place looked decent and surprisingly modern and it was made for two people to live in. Considering we were pressed for time, the moving in dates suit perfectly with our moving out date, and the place somewhat fulfil our pre-requisites, we committed to the monthly contract.
With this agent, we were only able to visit the premise after payment, but we decided we’d visit the place before physically signing the contract and receiving the key just to see what we need to do when moving in. The man who showed us the place at first sight gave off a bad boy kind of vibe with his tall, dark-skinned and dyed hair but he turned out to be really polite with a soft spoken voice and stunning dimply smile. His charms aside, the place looked a lot like the photos provided via email, which we were grateful for. The location though, not as convenient as living in Shimo-Ochiai near Takadanobaba station where there were a lot of shops around, even those with students as their target market. This new place has a lot of laundry stores, small barbers and dental clinics. The grocery stores sell products at higher prices, since the place is essentially a normal quiet residential area.
On the day that we signed the contract and obtained our key, we brought with us at least three bags full of stuff each. It had been sunny lately but somehow it rained on that particular day. There was trouble with the parking spot where the agent parked her car too (in Japan, parking spots are often equipped with something that I think clamps the car until payment is made). But the agent speaks very fluent English, being someone with a lot of experience overseas as she once studied in Chicago for a year, lived in Dubai for a few years and travelled as a stewardess.
What was not so cool was the fact that they provided us with only one key even though the bedding sets we are renting come in two sets. We were told that we could make a duplicate key ourselves. The only problem was the where. On my sister’s advice, we went to Shinjuku and asked the policeman there. Apparently there was a store called Mister Minit (and I thought this was a Malaysian’s store as the same one was in my home country and ‘minit’ is ‘minute’ in my mother tongue, haha) and the key making cost us ¥777, which was much cheaper than the prices mentioned by other English-speaking foreigners in discussion forums online. Luckily we decided to ask the policeman rather than find the other place mentioned by those in the forum.
But before we could have the luxury of time to make a spare key, we had only a week to move out all of our things from the old place to the new place. I considered a few options about doing this:
1. Move our things bit by bit via train and get a taxi on the last day to move the two big bags.
As taxi fare in Japan is damn expensive (it is said to be one of the world’s highest), we decided not to go with this option.
2. Hire a moving company.
I found this helpful site to get help with finding an affordable moving company and thought we’d go with Yamato Home Convenience. I sent out an email with details of the things that need to be relocated and it all amounts to almost ¥30, 000 (~RM1,200). The estimate can be gauged from the site itself. In the end, we decided not to go with this one either due to the price, timing and the fact that we had already moved some of the things over.
3. Move our things bit by bit via train throughout the week during non-peak hours.
The train fee to and fro amounts to ¥165 x 2 two-way x 2 persons x 9 times = ¥5,940 (~RM 238) so yes, this was the best option economically. In terms of effort though, it was as crazy as described in my previous post. One the last day we had to make three trips because the futons, blankets and pillows could not fit into our two big bags. On that very same day on which we had to be away from school, we went about buying necessities for the new home, and settling registration procedures after the third trip.
Which brings me to the very reason I set about writing this post: non-Japanese like me may not be aware about the Japanese moving procedures which includes:
- registering moving out from one district at the ward office of the old place, registering moving in to another district at the ward office of the new place;
- cancelling the insurance from the old ward office so you would get a refund of what you have paid and making a new insurance with the new ward office by making a new payment (why they can;t just transfer the money from one office to another is beyond me);
- for students, one can apply for student commuter pass by first applying for a certificate from school as a proof and then applying at the station counter so you can pay (three or six months) in advance at a discounted price by only for one station (near home) to another (near school);
- updating new address with the bank – which can be done easily on the computer at the back if you are able to read in Japanese.
So if you want to move, you might want to think twice. But then again, moving has always been something of a hassle, wherever you are in the world. At least right now, I am very contented with my current clean home where I can cook and do laundry anytime I want.