5 February, 2017
We are happy living on the outskirt of Tokyo. For many Japanese, ‘real Tokyo’ means the 23 special wards (called ‘ku’ in Japanese) and the rest of the area is “fake Tokyo”. Our apartment is located in Tama City, which is part of Western Tokyo or Tama area (Tama Chiiki in Japanese), consisting of 26 cities, three towns, and one village. The total population of Western Tokyo is 4,233,493, while Tama City has 147,822 registered residents within its 21.01km2 area.
When we moved into Tama City in 2016, our friends were surprised. All of them lived in one of Tokyo’s 23 special wards, and we were moving from Setagaya ward, one of the most prestigious wards, to “the countryside”. For them, visiting us became a ‘day trip’. But I didn’t know what they were talking about. Our station is Keio Seiseki Sakuragaoka, and it’s only 30 minutes from the giant Shinjuku station. They took a taxi from the station to our apartment to avoid a 15-minute walk. 780 yen to save that few minutes, while missing the opportunity to see wild birds and the fish in the river.
If I were in my 20s, I’d have preferred to live close to action in Tokyo. But right now I love the quiet, space and nature that is abundant in our area. And yes, everything seems much less expensive, including real estate. I’ll show you what kind of apartment you could get for 92,000 yen per month in our city.
Our apartment is 60ms and has three bedrooms and a living room. It also has a 60ms rooftop balcony. Sitting in our living room and on the rooftop, we can see a lot of nature as there is no tall building surrounding us. A small river runs in front of our apartment and there is a tiny mountain behind our building. Sitting in our living room and on the rooftop, we enjoy fresh air and the breeze. We wake up to a beautiful sunrise when the weather is good. All sorts of birds come to the river and they visit our balcony everyday.
Another thing Marcin loves about our apartment is the fact that he’s the only foreign resident. Today, hundreds of thousands of foreigners live in Tokyo, but they are concentrated in those 23 wards. If you are here for a short period of time, you’d want to live in the heart of Tokyo. But we are here for a long haul, and wish to live quietly. Here, there is no party or pressure to socialise with our neighbours. They are aware of Marcin, their only foreign resident, but are happy to leave him alone. A few kids greet him by saying “Hello!”, while adult residents quietly bow as they walk past him quietly in the building.
Btw, we have a motorcycle, 250cc Honda Folza. Parking is free on our site. If we had a car, the monthly parking fee would have been 6,000 yen. It’s super cheap by the Tokyo standard, but it’s still a cost and I wish to avoid it as long as we can.
Every now and then we have an urge to move, for no reason. We consider this as some kind of illness we’ve developed through our nomadic life. Marcin moved from Lodz to Sydney to Bangkok and Tokyo, while I moved from Yokohama to the Gold Coast to Sydney to Bangkok to Tokyo. Within each city, we moved several times separately and together. If we stay in one place too long (like a few years), we feel like “Should we move?”
So far we love living here and wish to stay put at least until the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is over. We want to buy a house in the even more remote area in Western Tokyo. We have Mount Takao, Okutama, Oume on our mind. Once we buy a house, we can finally bring all our belongings that are stored in Sydney and Bangkok. But for now, a 60m2 indoor space and a 60m2 rooftop for 92,000 yen is perfect for two of us.