Having not had much info about apartments, it turned out the process was a simple one. I sat down with one of the Interac OL’s (office ladies) who showed me several options to choose from on a map.
One of my options was a shared accommodation arrangement in a Freebell apartment. I went to check it out and met the girl I would potentially be sharing with, but in the end I decided I would much rather have my own space.
This was before the 110th change to my placement, after which the Freebell option wouldn’t have worked anyway. *sigh*
I ended up going with a well-known company for individual apartments across Japan: Leo Palace. From my experience and what I’ve heard from others, the Leo Palace is 100% worth the little bit extra you pay to be living alone. Judging by the other place I saw, the quality is definitely better than the Freebell apartments.
Rather than get a place close to my schools but far from the city, or vice versa, I chose an in-between area. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, it was a good choice regarding the trains, as it’s the last stop for the express train into Sakae (the main entertainment district).
The express/semi-express (or rapid in some cities) stations, as well as the distance from your apartment to the station, are big things to bear in mind when choosing your apartment. It takes me around 10 mins to walk to the station, which would normally be fine, but in the summer heat it has been killer – especially when I’ve had to rush to catch the train (often).
The upside of living a little bit further from the station is that I’m surrounded by allotments and rice paddies (and the frog chorus!), with a balcony to enjoy it from.