This may end up as a long post, or the first in a series of two. We’ll see. I feel like perhaps the apartments need to be a post unto themselves – give them the priority they deserve. (Why I’m I affording feelings to inanimate objects so much lately? I must be really lonely.)
So. Apartments. First, gotta get wrapped around apartments. Not apartments like at home where you’re in a complex, but apartments like in a high-rise. You know, with intercoms and elevators and whatnot. Sometimes even doormen.
I’ll talk more about my subway ride over later, but let’s just say it was different today – I got my money’s worth. I arrived at the station where I was to meet my relocation specialist and hung out for 15 minutes or so for him to arrive – I was early. We met up and headed to the first place. Just so I don’t advertise too specifically where I was looking, let’s call it place “A”. (Photos)
This place was pretty awesome and is actually my top pick. Susan and I haven’t spoken yet, so I don’t know her opinion exactly. Amusingly, the thought that I kept in my mind as I went through the others was that the floors in this place were so darn soft. It was a really nice, new carpet that was soft, but it was beyond that – it was the padding beneath the carpet. I actually spoke to another guy that lives in this building and he mentioned it even felt soft on the hardwood parts! It was awesome, I swear it.
Beyond the soft, lovely floors the apartment was a good size and in fact it was the largest of the day. It has a queen bed in the master and a full in the second bedroom. The 2nd bedroom is pretty small, but reasonable. The living room felt utterly massive, which in the end was equally great. The kitchen, like all of them, was small, but functional. It’s on the 15th floor with a balcony overlooking a courtyard. The courtyard has a community garden in the summer and farmers market on weekends.
I guess now is a good time to run through the things that were the same, and especially the things that are vastly different from the states. First, the washer / dryer is a single thing. In two places it was found in the kitchen, in one the bathroom. Next, the microwave tends also to be an oven which also tends to be a grill. Saving space folks. If you didn’t already know it, shoes off. Every place is prepared just inside the door for you to handle your shoe business, some more roomy than others. Oh yeah, and bathrooms – all of them were accommodating of traditional Japanese bathing. (Don’t know about that? I wrote about it a few days ago) Air conditioning is different, too – each room has an a/c unit with thermostat. Power conservation folks… they’ve been doing it for a while. Why heat / cool a room you’re not using?
Place “A” was also the very largest building of the three I visited. It has a doorman and 3 elevators. The building is built pretty dang solid. I was discussing with the other guy that he had experienced trouble with a fading wi-fi signal in his one bedroom place. When he started looking at the construction, he had some ideas. He actually went to the point of getting out a measuring tape as well as a stud finder. What he discovered was the interior wall was 14″ of concrete with rebar running vertically every 12″ and then cross hatched horizontally. This building doesn’t sway in the wind. Further, after the earthquake they’ve had a full structural review on top of raising their overall preparedness by storing food, water, installing generators, etc.
We headed out of place A, dropped into the subway and made our way to place B. (Photos) Place B isn’t in the same vicinity of the office – it’s a 10 minute subway ride away. We walked a couple of minutes from the station and found the place. (Remember, addresses don’t count in Tokyo, so there is a bit of work finding new places.) The building was undergoing renovation, so the whole place was a bit mucked up at the time. On top of that it only had one elevator so we actually had to wait for some construction guys with a cart to go first.
Once we got to the 3rd (?) floor, we headed to the apartment. I tried hard to ignore the renovation in the hallway – it was just unfortunate timing, it’ll look great soon based on the samples on the board in the lobby. We got into the apartment and I was immediately struck by the age it exhibited. This place was rockin’ a serious ’80s vibe. The carpet was a thick pile with swirls – I know that someone in our family, if not us, had a house full of it. (Was it at Gram’s house?) The bathroom tile was brown, great old school stuff going on.
The second bedroom had a sleeper sofa that was converted into a single sized bed. It looked comfortable enough. The A/C units in the bedrooms were reasonably modern, but not quite as new as the other two places. The master bedroom, for some strange reason, had a Japanese paper screen / window into the living room right behind the couch. That’s pretty awesome… when someone stays up watching TV the person in bedroom can’t escape it. Nevermind the complexities of having sexytime or something! The bed seemed fine, but the closets were… I thought I was going to break one of the doors trying to get it closed.
The living room was even better – first, the floor a/c unit had to have been an original… it was HUGE. Then, coming in a very close second, was the saddest leather love seat on earth. It looks like a sumo wrestler had lived on it for a few years. Now unfortunately that sumo wrestler has moved out because he went blind after sitting so close to the television in the teeny room.
Let’s just say I wasn’t too impressed with place B and move on, shall we?
Place C (photos) was phenomenally close to the office – like 2 minutes walk. Place A is a whopping 7 minutes walk. This was a very nice, modern place that is from a chain of serviced apartments. This 5th floor apartment was entirely hardwood floors throughout and it’s got the bedrooms on the second floor. The living room had a good size to it and it had a cool ‘study’ type area behind the television. It has balconies on the front and back of the apartment on both floors. Plus, it had a little 2 chair / table patio set!
The bedrooms were interesting – it was a full (?) bed in the second bedroom, but it’s positioning made it a tight squeeze to get into the closet. The master bedroom had a queen bed with a goofy little television in there. There is a toilet upstairs so you wouldn’t have to navigate the relatively tight staircase in your sleep. Downstairs is another 1/2 bath and then a full bath. The full bath had the washer / dryer combo in it. An interesting twist to this place is that one of my coworkers may actually have a place on the same floor! Now… is that good or bad? I can’t escape the office! 🙂
So… that’s that. I really like Place A, but could probably deal with Place C. Place B was so far from an option it’s laughable. Of course, I could tell them to look for more places… but so far the choices look a bit slim in our budget for a two bedroom furnished. Plus, given that these places seem great, why would I delay my family getting the heck over here!?