So here’s the stitch. Since I came to Japan, I spent
- 1 month in Kagoshima University International Hall 3 (single room),
- then 1 year in an apartment that turned out to be too far for us,
- then 2 years in another apartment that was better suited in terms of distance and size (since at that time, we had Leila),
- And finally almost 1 year back in Kagoshima University International, but this time in Residence Hall 2 (family room).
So I’ve been around! I just decided to write this blog to show to curious persons what their living situations might look like when/if they come to Kagoshima University. If you come on a MEXT (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship, then you’re only allowed to stay in the dorms for 6 months, after which, you would have to find an apartment. On other payment plans and scholarships, the maximum stay is usually 1 year.
Kagoshima University International Residence Halls:
Hall 1- It has single, couples and family rooms (¥ 5,900, ¥ 11,900, ¥ 14,200, per month respectively).
Hall 2- It also has single, couples and family rooms (¥ 4,700, ¥ 9,500 or ¥ 11,900, ¥ 14,200, per month respectively). Each floor has its kitchen, 2 washing machines, 2 dryers, and 2 showers to share for single room occupants. Rent is paid directly by bank transfer but the utilities’ bill is paid to the “Okaasan” after she posts the fees on a public board.
Hall 3- It only has single rooms (¥ 25,000/month). The rooms come fully equipped except for the washing machines which students have to share. You pay your rent and bills directly by bank transfer.
Bills, Bills, Bills
In each case, the student is responsible for utilities including water, electricity and gas. Internet is ¥6,000 every 6 months, paid directly to the Residence Hall office in first floor, Hall 3.
Utilities can be between ¥2,000 to ¥20,000 per month depending on you. Most single room occupants pay less than ¥5,000 per month. For us, water is not paid every month, maybe every 2 to 3 months.
Each Residence hall has tutors to help incoming students with daily know-hows.
Living in the dorms in the easy part. It’s finding an apartment that might be the hard part for some. From going to city hall to changing the address, to actually finding an apartment that welcomes foreigners, to having renter’s insurance, and having the money needed for the down-payment, this can be quite overwhelming for students.
We actually liked 2 apartments but when the owners heard from the realtor that “gaikokujins” were inquiring about the apartment, the owners said “No gaijins, they’re too dirty.” So we missed that chance. We never used Kagoshima University Co-op for apartment hunting, we always searched on “At Home” ‘s website, but maybe if we had gone with Co-op, we would have had less problems.
Our Renting Experience
Either way, our last apartment was a pleasure to rent! The landlord is a wonderful, sweet person that even allowed my friends from The Bahamas to stay in a vacant nearby apartment for FREE for a couple of days. How many persons would do that!? He came to visit me in the hospital when I gave birth to Leila, and brought us fruits. He printed our names so that we can stick it on our apartment door. He even came one evening when we were trying to find a hospital for our daughter who was sick. He picked us up and carried us to a nearby hospital. Thanks to his wife for allowing him to come to our rescue, that evening. He speaks excellent English and if you’re interested, I can offer you his information so that you may contact him for an apartment. He’s truly awesome! In fact, he allowed me to record one of his vacant apartments, and I added it into the video, below.
As someone that had to register and change her address 4 times already, I can tell you that this procedure can take nearly 5 hours especially during days in March-May which might be considered one of the busiest times in City Hall, since many persons tend to move around that time. The reason for this is that schools and many businesses have new persons (students and workers) coming in for April. School year actually begins in April, in Japan, and since graduation tends to be in March, most businesses expect newly graduated students to start work in April. The forms at City Hall are in Japanese and if you don’t have access to a tutor that can help you, you would have to do what we did and ask City Hall to provide us with someone who can speak English. Kagoshima City Hall actually employs a few foreigners to help out in moments like these when foreigners come. There are dozens of forms to be filled out and lots of information will be handed at once so a translator would help tremendously.
Another aspect of moving into a new apartment that is important is obtaining a comprehensive renter’s insurance, and this form, as well as guidelines are available at Kagoshima University International Student Office (The premium is ¥4,000/ 1 year and ¥8,000/2 years). Having an insurance will facilitate the requirement for guarantor that all apartment have in Japan. A guarantor is basically another person (Japanese person) whose name you will give the landlord or realtor as the second person to contact in case they cannot get in contact with you in terms of rent or any other issue. Most often, we put our supervising professors as our guarantors since we see them every day and they would naturally be our first contact in Japan.
Many apartment contracts are for 2 years and if broken, there is a penalty. Some require you to let them know 2-3 months in advance if you’ll be moving out. At that time, they will also arrange an inspection day to decide whether the apartment is left in good enough condition to refund the initial security deposit, which is usually one month’s rent. Many will take out from that deposit what they deem necessary to make repairs or paint and clean the apartment.
Initially, some apartments require you to pay 3-4 months (sometimes even 6 months) worth of rent as a non-refundable deposit, along with a key cutting fee, and sometimes all this can add up to 200,000-300,000 yen depending on the place.
If you have any specific questions on renting in Japan and on Kagoshima University (Shimoarata) dorms, I would be happy to help in any way I can.
More useful information can be found here.