What’s a guesthouse or a sharehouse?
In recent days in Japan, the word “sharehouse (シェアハウス）” has been a popular vocabulary. It’s basically the same as a guesthouse.
A guesthouse (also known as sharehouse) is an inexpensive lodging where people from around the world could stay in Japan, to avoid the hassle of furnishing the place and expensive rental cost. You could stay for a month or longer and some offer a weekly contract.
It is becoming a popular rental choice as well among young Japanese people as the upfront costs are often reasonable. There’s a lot of guesthouses in Tokyo to choose from but it is also available in some other major cities in Japan. Some of these houses are being handled independently and some are owned by realty companies that handle several houses across the city.
There are many types of sharehouses exists to give variety of choices and personal preferences such as, women’s only building, exclusive for foreigners, or with a student discount, some, limited types of pets are allowed, some has a parking lot and most are non-smoking, etc.. There is an array of guesthouses that are designed with Japanese or western style rooms; some have dormitory style with multiple people sharing a room, already furnished with a bed, air-conditioner,a desk, a chair, and a cabinet or a drawer for your clothing and things.
Pros of staying in a guesthouse
- The toilet, laundry area, shower room and fully equipped kitchen are readily available. From the pan to the stove, all you need to do is use it.
- As space in Japan is gradually increasing its value, Initial payment for a sharehouse is affordable and less stress.
- Intercultural communication with other housemates, if you are a very sociable person then the guesthouse is perfect for you!
Cons of staying in a guesthouse
- Less privacy, you still have some privacy inside of your room but less within the common area.
- Small space, if you have a lot of personal belongings, thinking on where to put them might be a challenge
Difference between a guesthouse and an apartment
Basically guesthouses and apartments are somewhat the same, they both provide a place to stay for the guest. The differences are, when it comes to apartments, it has more space and more privacy. It has its own kitchen, refrigerator, laundry in the unit, a private bathroom and some have television. You can do things at your own pace and time. No need to think if someone might be using the things you want to use. You will just have to use it whenever you want. But remember great power comes with great responsibility. The more power you have to do what you want the more responsibility to pay more. Yes, you got it! apartments are more expensive than guesthouses and that is the most significant difference they have, which most people are taking in consideration when choosing a place to stay.
Living in a sharehouse for a foreigner is as it provides a great homely alternative to hotel rooms or apartments. All guests can gather in the common area and have the opportunity to meet and bond, as well as actively engage in exchanging information on where to get an Instagram worthy shot or a good tourist spot. This will also help to actually experience Japanese everyday life, the culture, the food and interaction with the locals. Of course since this is a shared house, respecting your housemates is a must. This includes their privacy, space and personal things. Treat people as you would like to be treated and everything will run smoothly.
Now that we know what a sharehouse is. Let’s talk about the most awaited part, how much can you really save??
Depending on the room, the company and the location, the monthly rate for a sharehouse is basically around 40,000 to 60,000 yen per person. That’s only 360 to 540 USD a month. Whether the cost for utilities is included would vary per company, though usually there is a fixed amount to pay for bills, so you do not need to worry about bill shock. Also, most of them are equipped with internet connection free of charge, just plug in your computer and viola! You can go ahead and surf the net, but if you do not have your own computer worry no more, most of them have a shared computer area where you can do your research and do some scanning and printing.
To give you an idea. Initiative fees for apartments can be equivalent to a three months’ rent. While for the most guesthouses, all you need is a down payment to the first month rent. No key money, insurance fee or agent fee (awesome!) and you can already pack your things, say goodbye to your old place, move in the next morning and start a new life. Easy right? No cash? No worries! Credit cards are accepted too! There are instances as well that the room you wanted is already occupied but do not fret, you can temporarily choose a vacant room until the one you wanted becomes available. Then you can switch to the one that you really like, free of any service charges.
Are you excited now? With this information, I know you are already thinking of a place in Japan where you could search for a guesthouse. For whatever your reasons are. Whether it is a family conflict, a broken heart, soul searching, chasing someone, following your dreams, visiting a place or just a change of scenery. You will eventually find your happy place. As the saying goes, sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be.
Are you ready to experience Japan? Well, happy searching!