How to Japan

What It’s Like to Live in A Share House in Japan

Curious about life in a global residence? Maybe you've done the college dorm thing back home and wonder how it compares to a share house in Japan. Skip the apartment hassles and explore alternatives. With 3+ years in share houses, here's what to know before committing!

Have you ever wondered what it is like living in a residence with people from around the world? You probably already experienced living in a college dorm in your home country and you want to know how close or different it is from living in a share house in Japan. Perhaps you don’t want to deal with all the red tape and fees that come with getting an apartment and want other options. As someone who has lived in 3 different share houses for over 2 years, here are some helpful insights on what you should expect before signing that contract!

What is a Share House?

A share house is a type of residence that provides private bedrooms but has communal areas. Most share houses provide all the necessities you may need such as a bed, air conditioner, a closet, a desk, and sometimes, your very own refrigerator. The main difference between a dorm and a share house is that you are guaranteed your own bedroom for privacy and therefore makes a huge difference if you do not like being surrounded by people or sharing a sleeping area with someone and want time alone.

The bathroom, toilet, kitchen, living room, and dining area are all shared spaces so it may be necessary at times for certain members to set a schedule so that each householder can have a turn in cooking or using the bathroom. Some larger share houses can have as many as 100 rooms and others that have less than 5 private rooms.

The bigger share houses can even have recreational areas with a Ping-Pong table and a projector screen as well as a study room. Upon moving in, almost all your needs are covered from frying pans to hairdryers that you can easily share with other tenants. This is a big help since buying furniture and household items can be a hassle when you first arrive in a new country. There are websites such as Tokyo Room Finder and Tokyo Share House where you can get more information on this.

Moving in Costs

The biggest advantage of staying in a share house is that there are no huge upfront costs and strict requirements such as 2-month deposits, key money, cleaning fees, guarantors, or 2-year contracts. You can move in and move out anytime provided that you give the share house manager at least 2 months’ notice before your impending departure.

In most cases, you only need to pay the first month of your stay which also includes your utility bills. In off-peak months, some share houses even do campaign registrations wherein your first month is free of charge if you are planning to stay for a certain amount of time. Depending on where you live or your proximity to the big cities, share houses can range from 40,000 yen to 80,000 yen a month.

Pros and Cons of Living in a Share House

This list is based on only my own experience having lived in 3 different share houses and may not be accurate for all share houses in Tokyo.


  • You only pay the month’s rent upon moving in plus the utility which is already covered in your total bill
  • You get to meet a lot of people from various countries, form relationships with them, and have a sense of community. Most residents are young adults and a significant number of them are foreigners who are on student visas or working visas. It is a good way to learn more about their cultures and traditions and get to know them more than what you know from stereotypical movies or TV shows.
  • No need to buy a bulk of stuff you need for daily living such as cutting boards, pillows, a desk, a bed, and more. They all come in the package and it takes the load off your back from worrying about purchasing these or moving/disposing of them if you have to move out in the future.
  • Very useful amenities already readily available. There is a washing machine equipped with a dryer so there is no need to go to a laundromat around the area. If you badly need to wear a particular shirt tomorrow and forgot to wash it, you won’t need to hang it outside and worry if it dries in time when you need it.
  • There is a sense of security. Some share houses have CCTV cameras and the main entrance is well-secured. There are always people/housemates who can help you in case of an emergency and you don’t feel alone.
  • The moving in and out process is very easy and streamlined. Leases can be extended or amended, if necessary, without having to pay a penalty fee
  • Facilities such as gyms and recreational or study areas can be used at any time
  • Monthly get-together events or parties like cookouts with other members and even language exchange sessions can be organized with other international tenants


  • Having to share spaces like the kitchen, bathroom, or toilet. Some take their time cooking or taking long baths and showers. If the rooms are all being used and you are late for school or work, then this could be your biggest hurdle.
  • Sharing personal items like cooking utensils and bathroom essentials. Some people naturally do not like the idea of using the same appliances or utensils with others so this could be a problem. In most cases, each person has a designated container/locker to store their items but even then, it is not uncommon to have your things misplaced.
  • Lack of privacy and even noise complaints are very common issues that people deal with in this kind of residence. Conflicts may arise due to other tenants inviting friends over or breaking the rules set by the share house company that strongly inconvenience others.
  • Other people eating your food if you share one refrigerator. In many share houses, the fridge is a shared appliance and you may find yourself realizing that your leftover pizza has disappeared into thin air. Some members may shop more than others and stack the fridge so much that others are unable to put in their share of groceries. Some share house companies have addressed this issue by providing each member a fridge in their bedroom to avoid this scenario from happening but sadly, not all share houses, can do this.
  • Issues of cleanliness. In general, some people are clean freaks while others are just bad at cleaning up after themselves and this can cause a lot of friction within the household. It is important to always clean up after yourself after using the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or toilet and putting the household belongings in their proper storage spaces.

Some Tips for Living in A Share House

It is important to always be considerate of others whether it is the time you take enjoying your nightly 10-step skincare routine in the bathroom or having a birthday bash in your bedroom or the common spaces at 3 AM. Most people who live in share houses are very busy people and from what I gather, are actually quite reserved and private which is a stark contrast from what you would expect from someone who prefers to live with other people.

Be friendly but make sure you are not invading their personal space or time. It may not be the easiest to gauge one’s personality and if they are open to having lively or no-holds-barred conversations, but always read the room first before doing anything.

Cooperate with your housemates when it comes to household duties. Some share houses have schedule boards regarding who throws the trash or vacuums the living room on weekdays. If you want to coexist peacefully with your housemates, try to make it a team effort when it comes to household chores and cleaning tasks.

Think the “Japanese Way.” Since you are living with a lot of foreigners who share a common interest in Japan, it is only natural to still abide by certain things that the Japanese would consider polite or avoid things that may be thought of as rude since a small number of the residents are also Japanese. You may be more exposed to the international environment within the 4 corners of your building, but the reality is that you are still in Japan.

Whether you decide to live in your own apartment in Japan or stay in a share house with other people, always make sure to follow the rules set by the company, be considerate of others make the most of your experience, and have fun!

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