Having found apartments in America, I wasn’t too worried about it in Japan. Except for the fact that I barely know anyone in Osaka, and that it’s known to have lots of yakuza. Also, having this Asian face meant that they could either take advantage of me, or not trust me to pay the bills.
I started looking with some help of my neighbors who had an uncle who’s a landlord and lives out in the suburbs. He gave some advice on good neighborhoods and stations, namely Tsukaguchi , which is on the Hankyu Kobe line where the office is also closely located, so I started looking out there. Because I’m looking for a pet-friendly place that was big and was within my price range, my options shriveled. I decided on 5 rooms: 2 were investment properties in Daikokucho, a gentrifying neighborhood, 1 was a renovated room in an older building in a neighborhood I was told was popular, 1 was a warehouse-like open space that could also be used as an office near Shin-Osaka station, and the last was a really nice big space that’s near my office, the most expensive, and my last resort. I started contacting the real estate agents who were in charge of the places I wanted and settled with Osaka Fudosan, which is the most generic name ever, and hard to find on Google. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but the agent I spoke with was really good at dealing with me as a foreigner by asking a lot of questions, as well as informing me of a lure tactic that real estate agents use to get people to go to their offices and sell rooms to them that they didn’t care for in the first place, so I decided to designate him as my agent.
Knowing that, almost every real estate agent I reached out to welcomed listings I was interested in, even if they weren’t in charge of the units, so this made me even more wary to accept their offer to come into their office. I stuck with Osaka Fudosan because I felt they knew what they were doing, and he had a number 2 on his agent’s license, which according to trusted sources, is an experienced real estate agent (for better or worse).
I went to Osaka with the intention to apply for a place, and was quickly told that I have access to only two places after I said I didn’t have a guarantor, a Japanese person in Japan, because I believed that I could get one through a service. So seeing how I only had two options to choose from that weren’t my top, I frantically contacted some friends and later in the day was able to get one of them to agree to be my guarantor.
My real estate took me to my top place, the one-room in Shin-Osaka that I imagined I could decorate and divide to my liking, but it was right next to a highway, and had a lot of noise. It was also very minimally furnished, so while it was a nice neighborhood and close to Shin-Osaka station where visitors could easily get to my place once they step off the bullet train, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live there after all with air and noise pollution.
My agent took me to the room in Daikokucho, which was a room I had originally really wanted to get, but was still being cleaned. He took me to another unit that was 2 flights up, 1000 yen more in rent, had a nice balcony view, and a TV on top of the bathtub, but the floor plan wasn’t ideal, and it had a nook that felt claustrophobic.
The agent didn’t bother to take me to the second Daikokucho room, saying that the owner was really strict, so it’s not worth trying. At this point I was really tired, so I didn’t have the energy to push it too much.
At the office, I filled out applications for 3 rooms, got a run-down of terms and conditions and payments I was required to make for the Daikokucho room that my agent was in charge of, and paid a months rent for the broker fee, which is supposed to come back to me when I sign, but is kept if I decide to back out.
What doesn’t make much sense to me, is that the amount goes to the background check company if I am approved, and that amount is based on the first months rent of the Daikokucho place. It’s only in hindsight now for me to think about asking whether I have to pay for the background check for the other two sites as well.
So at the moment I’m waiting for the contract to come through the mail so I can sign this quickly and start throwing around my new address to places and get re-situated.