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If you’re going to live in Kobe… Living By Yourself! (Part Three)

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3. Living By Yourself.

In this article, we’ll be talking about living by yourself, probably one of the most popular lifestyles. Bogdan Cazacu (from Moldova), a 4th year student in Kobe International University’s Economics Department, tells us that after coming to Japan, he began renting a two-room apartment he shared with a Chinese student.

What was your first room like?

It was a normal two room apartment, with a shared toilet and kitchen. Before I came to Kobe, I consulted with a representative from the school, and they helped me with finding an apartment. They sent me digital pamphlets, and I chose the one I liked.
There wasn’t any furniture or tableware, so I had to buy some first. My room was about 3 tatami mats (2mx2.5m) in size, so I bought a loft bed and put a table underneath it. I also put a refrigerator in the middle of the room. I could reach everything from the center of the room, so I called it my “Smart House.” It was small, but I had my own balcony, and it was a good room.

Why did you move? What did you notice about the moving process?

I had to live there for a year and a half in order to get the apartment “gift money” (typically gifted to the landlord in Japanese at the time of signing the contract) and the deposit back. The length of the lease is determined when you rent the apartment. If you move apartments too soon, you may end up paying a penalty of 1-2 months’ rent.
As time went on, I accumulated more books and furniture, and my room started to get smaller, so I decided to move. I tried looking for an apartment near a cheap grocery store, somewhere bigger than my previous place.

Bogdan’s room

Was it difficult to search for an apartment? Did it take a long time?

It took a bit of time to find an apartment I liked. I was looking for about half a year, not so much because there weren’t any good rooms, but because I was thinking carefully about it and doing my research. I started by looking at digital pamphlets on the internet and deciding what kind of apartment I’d like to have, and then I visited a number of real estate agents. To rent an apartment in Japan, you have to do it through a real estate agency. After you sign the contract, you can move in in about two to three days. My friends helped me with carrying my things.

What documents do you need to move?

In general, the documents you’ll need will be the same everywhere: your residence card, a Japanese phone number, and your guarantor’s information. A guarantor is someone who will pay the rent in the event that you don’t pay. If you don’t have a guarantor, for the most part, you won’t be able to rent in Japan.

Who acts as a guarantor for international students?

Well, for example, the university where you go to school. Other options are to use guarantor companies. Start by asking with a real estate agency.

How can students save money on housing?

That depends on the person. You need to decide whether you want to prioritize cheap rent, or how close your apartment is to your school. Unfortunately, the start-up costs can be quite expensive. Aside from the rent, there’s the real estate agent’s commission, a “thank you” fee, the deposit, and so on, so no matter what real estate agency you use, you’ll need three to four months’ rent for the initial fees.
If you just want to bring the rent down, you can save money with a “flawed” apartment. That’s the kind of apartment I’m renting now. I had a long discussion with the real estate agent, and they showed me the room. Even if there’s something imperfect about it, for me it’s an apartment where I can live as normal, so I’m happy with it.

The apartment exterior

What advice do you have for students considering study abroad in Kobe City?

Some universities partner with real estate agencies, and there’s a chance you can get a discount if you show them your student ID, so I recommend talking with someone from your university first.
You can also look up cheaper housing areas easily online. There are lots of real estate agencies, and each of them have different specialties. Go visit them and ask lots of questions. I personally searched on
You can also look up cheaper housing areas easily online. There are lots of real estate agencies, and each of them have different specialties. Go visit them and ask lots of questions. I personally searched on

Thank you very much, Bogdan!

If you end up looking for an apartment in Kobe, I hope Bogdan’s advice will come in handy to find your own place!