I ended up finding a place to live about a week after I got to Japan. I spent a number of days doing a lot of research online into the various options available before setting my sights on the current place, a share house in the Kawasaki city area, about 30 minutes by train from JR Shinjuku Station.
I ended up picking this place over a personal apartment mostly as a way of cutting some costs and the fact that even back in Canada I really don’t use much room to begin with. Now, renting an apartment in Japan is generally done through a real estate agency which of course works off a fee for their services. There is a general deposit in case of damage, etc required which can be up to several months rent as well as “key money“ which is basically a non refundable payment, effectively as a gracious act, to the landlord of up to several months rent. Sounds expensive doesn’t it?
Needless to say the whole system is not particularly foreigner friendly for those coming to Japan for a few months to a year. Luckily there are other options that don’t require key money, services fees and deposits that have sprung up to fill the need. Furthermore they take care of the utilities and internet for you thus saving some work in the process.
In my particular case there is a share house where the living room, kitchen and washrooms are shared among 3-4 people, quite similar to having house mates back in Canada. It has also made for a much more social and group environment as a number of the guests try to organize group activities and as a traveler, it’s always nice to meet new people.
So far so good!