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March 2nd, 2011
Having your own private room, but a shared living room where you can eat together, watch TV together, or simply talk with your flatmates are what shared housing is all about.
Originally popular among foreigners, the Nikkei Shimbun reported on February 19th (2011) that interest in shared housing is drastically increasing in Japan amongst Japanese as well. The rent is cheaper than traditional leased apartments, there’s no need for a guarantor, but there is also the appeal of increased communication with others due to shared kitchen and dining areas. Late last year, Real Estate Japan ran a blog article outlining the investment opportunity in developing shared housing in Japan and looks like traditional media are taking up our cause as well.
Yotsuya House, a shared house located in Yotsuya, Tokyo, has approximately 30 overseas students at any given time throughout the year. They share the dining, kitchen and restroom, and each pays approximately 70,000 JPY monthly rent for an 8-square meter private room. “The fact that we don’t require a guarantor is a major advantage for overseas students,” says Shunske Ogata from EXE Corporation, a Tokyo-based shared housing investment company.
A 45% increase in a year
According to Hitsuji Incubation Square – a leading shared housing information company, there are 769 houses as of February 2011 in Japan: a 45% increase since the previous year. With the majority of shared houses located in the Tokyo area, due to size constraints in the metro area, shared housing comes in all forms: wide rooms; narrow rooms; rooms with or without windows; houses with or without baths. J&F House Urawa, located a ten minute walk from Urawa Station, has a large-screen TV in the shared living room. According to J&F Plaza, the company in charge of Urawa House, the key to the popularity of shared housing is that people can enjoy each other’s company without having their privacy infringed.
While shared housing is still popular mostly among foreigners, housing targeting Japanese people is also increasing. For example, at Shared House K in Hikarigaoka (Kangawa), residents are all Japanese women. “Whenever I feel like talking, I go in the living room, which we share. But whenever I feel I want to be on my own, I go to my room,” says a 22-year-old Tokushima native, who moved in together with her softball teammates.
In the Tokyo area, Social Apartments is another upstart that has built their company on the basis of shared housing completely during the global financial crises. Social Apartment’s shared houses are found around the city, even in some triple A locations like Aoyama and Omotesando. Once again, Real Estate Japan featured Social Apartments in an earlier blog and again domestic media is only now starting to catch on.
Not only for young people:
Is shared housing only for young people? Millennium City, the non-profit organization which built Asahi Millennium City – a shared house with an ocean view in Chiba Prefecture with residents ranging in age from 30 to 70, doesn’t think so. The residents live and work around Tokyo but spend the weekends at the Asahi Millennium House where they grow vegetables and live with others under one roof for a few days. Due to the unexpected popularity and demand, Millennium City is planning on a second shared housing project in the same area.
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