Monday, April 25, 2005

My Apartment

Originally uploaded by noexit.

Originally uploaded by noexit.

Here are some pictures of the inside of my new apartment finally. I don't have internet yet, so right now I'm at Ai's school using the computer lab while she's in class. I just got hte bed in hte loft last night. My bed was about 5mm too wide to fit up there, so I had to borrow a plane from Ai's uncle and shave a bit off.

I really like the location of this new apartment. It isn't at close to the station as the last place was, but the station itself is closer to everything. My monthly train pass from home to work is only 5600 yen, and on the way is Shinjuku. It's also on the way home from school for Ai, so it's much eaiser to see eachother. Very close to my house is a great import and specialty food shop that has rootbeer and tons of other things.

I'd write more but this computer is driving me nuts. Everything I type appears on the screen about ten seconds after I hit the keys. I can type at a normal speed, but I can't see what I'm typing, so there's going to be some mistakes.

So now mom and dad need to get their passports, because I know they haven't yet, and start planning their trip this summer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I'm all moved in! I went back to my old apartment yesterday and cleaned it. I only have to go back down there one more time to return the key on Sunday. It's so far! Now I have a train pass that lets me get on or off at any station between my home and work, and half way between home and work is Shinjuku, the hub of Tokyo. This means that the train is pretty crowded in the morning, when the doors of the train open, there's no where to put your feet, but you have to get on anyway. But I live only four stops for work, two stops on one line, then a transfer and two more stops. It's a pretty great area, but I'm still exploring. I just found the grocery store yesterday.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Moving in

Taking a quick dinner break from packing now.

This morning I went to Shinjuku at 10am to meet my real estate agent. Not really sure why since all he did is give me a map to the agency that manages the property. So then I headed off to that agency and spent an hour going through papers and signing and stamping them with my seal. At about 12 I got my key and headed off to my apartment. I didn't have anything but my brief case with me so I only stuck around long enough to turn the power on and call the gas company to turn on the gas tomorrow so I'll be able to have a hot shower.

Yesterday, after contacting everyone I knew to see if someone would drive for me, I decided to stop by the police station to ask if I could use my international driver's permit. I'd read that the law was changed and that it was only valid for 90 days after you enter Japan, but the cop said I was fine to drive until the 23rd, so I stopped by the car rental place and reserved a large van.

I also needed a navigator, and Ai might be busy tomorrow, so I called my friend Keiko, who lives at the next station. Turns out she was planning on meeting her friends in Tokyo tomorrow afternoon, so I offered to drive her up there and buy lunch in exchange for her help navigating.

So tomorrow I pick up the van at 9am, and hope to have it loaded and be off to Koenji by 11am. Lot of packing to go...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I'm approved

My Apartment
Originally uploaded by noexit.
I got a call from my real estate agent today, so I met I for coffee after work, and went to the agents office. I got it! Now all I have to do is wait for the paperwork from the dentist to get to the agent, then I can go to the contract signing. I think that the land lord will also be there for a sort of interview or something. Most landlords are very very careful about renting to foreigners. There is a reputation or fear that foreigners will leave the country without paying their rent or something. But I really think that it's an unfounded reputation. I'm sure there are more pad Japanese renters in Japan than bad foreign renters.

So now I'm trying to find someone who can drive for me. I can rent a truck that is big enough for about $65, but I don't think I'm legal to drive it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I found an apartment!!!

Apartment hunting is really crazy here. Basically, you have to go to a real estate agent to even find what's on the market. Landlords almost ever rent directly, they always go through a real estate company. So you go to a real estate company, usually chosen by the sampling of apartment floor plans they have out front, although one agent said that some agencies will put our fake ones to attract customers, so pretty much any big one will do. There are two types of agencies; small local ones that the landlords list with, and then other agencies that collect thousands of floor plans from the smaller agencies. Since it's usually harder for the smaller agencies to find tenants, and harder for prospective tenants to find the apartment they are looking for, the secondary agencies are more convenient.

The thing that delayed me from looking before was that I didn't have a guarantor. In Japan, everyone has to have someone to cosign the lease. There are not background or credit checks that can exempt you from this requirement in japan, though there are a few, very rare landlords that will rent to someone without a guarantor, but the rents are generally higher.

Last week, while at my last lesson with the Dentist and his daughter, I told them about my new job, and and how I needed to start looking for an apartment, but that I didn't have a guarantor, and he agreed to be my guarantor. (Yeah!) So on Thursday, the very next day, I headed up to Kitijoji to start apartment hunting. I spent a few hours in one place, whose site I had searched on the web, and flipped through their books. I had expected them to be different; since I was able to search through what they had on the web, I expected that they'd have everything organized electronically, but they were no different from the rest. When you walk in, someone will sit you down, have you fill out a registration sheet with details about yourself and what you are looking for in an apartment. Then they pull out a book of copies of floor plans and you start flipping. I probably flipped through an entire box of paper in the three agencies that I went to. Meanwhile, the agent uses some other resources that they have to find other apartments that fit your description that they don't have in their files yet. If you find some that you are interested in, then they will take you to see them. The agency in Kichijoji had a car, so they drove me to each place, but the Shnjuku agency didn't have a car, (after all, it's Shinjuku, so it would have taken 2 hours to navigate the traffic to where the apartments were) so we took the train (20 minutes).

The first agency I went to was able to find one apartment that I was looking for, and it was really great except that it was a half hour walk to the train station. The second agency hadn't found anything as of yesterday afternoon, but the Shinjuku agency was really on the ball, and found a couple by yesterday morning, so I canceled my appointments with the first two and went to look at apartments.

The ones were not to my liking and I was about ready to lower my standards when we hit the last one. This is the one I decided to get. It was about $20 a month over the budget I had set for myself, but I think it will be worth it. It's in a reinforced concrete building which will be less susceptible to earth quake damage than the wood construction that most buildings are made of. It also has the bath and toilet separate, which was one of my main requirements, and the biggest obstacle to finding an apartment in my price range. People who haven't been to Japan may not understand the "bath toilet separate concept. Basically, the bathroom is just that; a bathroom. The toilet is in a separate room. You may not understand unless you see it, but it's just so much better. The apartment also has a large loft, which was the other difficult requirement I had. My image was to put my bed in the loft, and use the main room for living. This loft may just be just too small for my bed though; my bed it 120cm wide, and the loft is 119.5 cm wide. The difference is so small that I'm just going to shave that much off the side of my be to make it work. I think that from about 5cm off the floor, it's a full 120cm, so I'll just bevel the feet and it should work.

The apartment is also in a great town. Koenji is only 20 minutes from work, and 160yen! Where I live now, it costs at least 190 yen to get to a station that is even half the size of Koenji. I'll also have a train pass that will take me to Shinjuku to work and Shinjuku for free since my school will pay for it. Yea!!!

It's going to be much different living up there. I wont have cherry blossom petals falling past my window for a week during the spring (as they are now), but the apartment is far enough from the station that I wont hear trains all day. I'll also be much closer to shops and food (lots of food!) and spend so much less on transportation that it will probably pay for itself.

I'll get a floor plan up as soon as I can get them to fax it to me.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Apartment Hunting

Heading off to see a couple apartments. Hopefully I'll get the one good one that I saw last night. More later.