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  • We just found out that our apartment that we've rented for over 8 years in Japan is going to be torn down,

  • and we need to find a new place to live ASAP.

  • Finding a home for a family of six in the Tokyo area is challenging enough, but will it be an impossible task for foreigners?

  • Find out in this Life in Japan.

  • OK let's see, what does the kitchen look like?

  • Oh, this is tight!

  • [Life in Japan Theme Song]

  • Like any search these days, it usually starts online,

  • and that's exactly where we're going to see if there's any housing suitable for a large family near us.

  • Nothing?

  • No 4LDKs, oh here's one.

  • It's kind of far.

  • ¥230,000/month

  • Well...

  • And a little smaller than I'm in.

  • And 3 floors. Won't work.

  • So either I'm going to have to go far far away,

  • Pay a ton of money

  • Or go smaller.

  • We thoroughly searched the popular Japanese real estate websites at home, sumo and others to find options, but the results were not encouraging.

  • Look at that. I'd have to have a little burner stove.

  • Nope nope nope, not going to work.

  • We really wanted to stay in the same neighborhood so that our kids could go to the same Japanese public schools

  • and because it is also very close to where we work

  • so we compiled a list of possibilities and sent them to our realtor.

  • When she got back to us, the challenging reality of foreigners finding a place to live set in.

  • What's the word now?

  • Well we got a couple of properties that we wanted to see,

  • None of them here close, kind of far.

  • And we sent them to the realtor and she got back to us

  • And one of them is not going to open up until next March,

  • One will not rent to us because we're foreigners,

  • And one we can go see.

  • So we're...every third I guess we can go see.

  • The next day, we would go look at some options together as a family.

  • OK guys, where are we going now?

  • To look at houses!

  • We go in the house!

  • And we get to go in the house!

  • The first place we visited had just gone on the market, so it was still under renovation.

  • We were glad we were able to go in and see it anyway.

  • This one to us on paper it looked like a very ideal layout.

  • Whoa, look at the size of this.

  • You might need to change these curtains...

  • Yea, we would change the curtains, that's for sure.

  • But boy, look at all that light!

  • But look at this though, it's got a big [storage room]

  • Oh yea, boy that's nice.

  • The house was spread vertically across three floors, a common building practice these days in the greater Tokyo area.

  • We tried to picture what it would be like if we did indeed live here.

  • Oh but the toilet's in here with the washing machine.

  • Oh that's a little different.

  • It's so big in here.

  • Wow, wow.

  • It's big Mommy!

  • Look at mommy's face.

  • OK, I've got to see the kitchen.

  • OK, let's see. What does the kitchen look like?

  • Oh! This is tight!

  • Yea. So the kitchen is a downer.

  • It was time to check out the upstairs bedrooms.

  • This must be the toilet...

  • Oo large

  • Is it? That's nice.

  • Here's a closet.

  • It's nice.

  • Oh wow, yeah.

  • This one has no air.

  • I want this to be my room.

  • Well Ruth, what do you think here seeing this place?

  • This living/dining area is amazing.

  • The kitchen's—I'm used to a large kitchen,

  • So I don't have much space.

  • But I would probably try to put our dining here so that could all be living.

  • I know, that would be awesome, wouldn't it?

  • And then we could always put out an extra table if we need to.

  • Well let me tell you what, this first house definitely a contender.

  • Did you guys like this one?

  • I loved it.

  • OK, let's go see the other ones.

  • Alright, we're checking out the next place.

  • And it is like 2 minutes from the station, it's so close.

  • We're the only ones living on the 5th floor?

  • Oh my goodness! This is the tiniest!

  • Look at the tiny little elevator.

  • How do you move stuff in here? That's what I want to know.

  • I don't think our things would even fit.

  • Here comes 5.

  • Do you hear them coming guys?

  • Yea, I see them.

  • You can see them coming?

  • Here we go guys Take off your shoes.

  • Look, it's a big bathroom.

  • Big bathroom. Oo la la.

  • Ooh! Oh this is the living/kitchen.

  • Oh look at that.

  • It's all in one.

  • Wow. Now that's something else.

  • Oh, and look at the kitchen, Ruth.

  • Bye bye!

  • I want to see what Momma chan thinks of the kitchen.

  • Oh wow, this could almost be a room.

  • This right here?

  • It's a storage, but it's really big.

  • Holy cow!

  • Look at the pantry.

  • Oh my goodness!

  • Tatami!

  • This would be your office, and this would be our room.

  • Yeah.

  • There's a lot of storage in here. It smells mildewy

  • Wow, good-sized room here.

  • This is nice.

  • Whoa!

  • Yea but look at this! Holy cow. This is like a whole other bedroom.

  • It is.

  • The space in here is just ridiculous.

  • I don't know if my stuff would fit in here because the elevators the size of a peanut.

  • So now we've seen the second one. Decision's harder, huh?

  • The thing with this house is that it's next to the station,

  • The space is amazing

  • They said it's been cleaned, but I would probably have to hire cleaners because it just kind ofyuck.

  • I don't know how long it's been opened.

  • And the elevator is like me and her wide.

  • And you guys aren't wide.

  • Yea, like that!

  • It's teeny teeny tiny.

  • We were squished.

  • Over the course of several days, we went back and forth,

  • searching for options on line, sending them to the realtor, getting turned down for nearly half of them and seeing the other half.

  • All that searching almost makes you a little bit crazy,

  • so we needed to take some time with family to clear our minds and make a decision about where to live.

  • What's happening Sarah?

  • The hunt begins again.

  • The hunt begins again? What are you going to find today?

  • What's on your list?

  • A frog or a lizard.

  • Oh ok.

  • That's a scary path.

  • I just found some poop.

  • Huh?! Fresh poop.

  • You found some fresh poop! Awesome!

  • Let's put it in the bug box. Gross.

  • Oh, we see a grasshopper! Oh!

  • OK get it.

  • We're still going for the big hunt?

  • I guess so!

  • We're going to find some bugs here.

  • Good things we have Ben here to help us out!

  • When we made our big international move over 8 years ago, we moved close to where other friends and family were living.

  • Those relationships were key for us adjusting to life in Japan.

  • But then, along the way, we've built some strong friendships here in this area.

  • It's fun to imagine ourselves in a bigger house with more space, which we could afford if we move over 30 minutes away from here.

  • But our life revolves around these relationships and this area.

  • In the end, the decision of a bigger place or a closer location became clearer.

  • Izzy, what did you get?

  • I got a grasshopper!

  • You got a grasshopper? Yeah.

  • Oh that's pretty good. That's a start, huh?

  • I got a pikachu.

  • A pikachu?!

  • Yeah!

  • What? You got three grasshoppers?

  • Hold 'em up, let me see!

  • Oh nice.

  • The day out did just the trick. In the end, we knew which place we needed to move on.

  • We just needed to make the phone call and make it happen.

  • We put in an offer on an apartment... Oh!

  • Now we're just waiting to see if we get accepted.

  • The movers came this morning, gave us an estimate,

  • And now we have to pack, pack stuff up and throw stuff away to make it work.

  • Ties ties ties. I used to wear a lot of ties, but now hardly anymore.

  • We chose a place that is more convenient over a place that was a bigger house

  • But a long ways off from the station, a long ways off from all that we do here at the coffee shop.