My $1,500 rent is killing me.
I live in an expensive area called Shirokanedai, which is inside the Yamanote line, a railway loop line in Tokyo. Most people who “live in Tokyo” live far away from the Yamanote line. So living inside it means you are in the dead center of the city. I moved to this apartment a year ago, and back then, the decision seemed reasonable. I got a new job in Shirokanedai, so I wanted to live near my work. I also wanted to throw a house party, so being located in an urban area was important. Fast-forward to today, I work from home and no longer party, which makes living in Tokyo ridiculous, let alone Shirokanedai. Let’s get out of here.
I seriously considered moving to a rural area. I miss nature, mainly because I’ve been in Tokyo for 3 years. But when I searched for an apartment, I realized that apartments in rural areas were not that cheap. They were on average $50 cheaper than the ones in suburb. Considering the fact that I will still go to Tokyo a few times a month, the transportation cost outweighs the cheaper rent.
Buying a house is not an option, even though houses in rural areas are extremely cheap. Being single, there is no scale merit of living in a house. More important, my situation changes so frequently that it’s impossible to predict what I will be doing a year from now. I need flexibility in being able to move anytime.
After months of research, I decided to live in Kanagawa, which is south of Tokyo. It has lots of cheap apartments. I found a great apartment in Sagamihara city, which is one of the most affordable areas in Kanagawa. The rent is $515. Probably the biggest reason for the cheap price is the fact that the apartment is 20 minute walk from the nearest station. That is unacceptable for commuters, but since I work from home, it doesn’t matter at all. One effective way to search for an apartment/house is by filtering by a negative feature. In my case, it’s the distance from a nearest station. If you can tolerate something that most people cannot, you should actively seek it. This principle applies not just to housing, but also things like choosing a career.
Sagamihara city offers a rich natural environment. There are lots of parks and mountains around the city. I cannot wait to explore them. There is also a river near the apartment. This is important because I need a quiet, traffic light-free running course. Stopping at a traffic light is no fun, whether I’m running or commuting. I chose my current apartment so that there would be no traffic light on my way to work. There is something irritating about a traffic light. Most people don’t mind it. After all, you only stop at it sometimes, and even if you do, on average you’ll only wait for less than 30 seconds. That’s not much time. But what do you while waiting? Right, nothing. You might check your phone or stare at a pretty girl on the other side, but most of the time, there is nothing to check on your phone and no pretty girl on the other side. You are just standing there doing nothing. Technically it’s the same as walking 30 seconds longer, but emotionally it’s very different. I try to calm down and enjoy the moment though. The unpredictability of a traffic light is also a source of my irritation. That’s why I don’t gamble.
I should note that there are apartments in Tokyo and Kanagawa that cost less than $500 or even $400. The reason I didn’t choose them is that I have little tolerance for noise and need an apartment with a high sound-proof. Home is my favorite place. I work, eat, read, write, and do pretty much everything at home. I don’t even go to coffee shops because I don’t drink coffee. I need a quiet place in order to concentrate. So I’m not willing to damage my productivity just to save $100 a month. It was not an easy decision though.