You should keep an open mind about your living situation–it will likely be very different from what you are used to. Your predecessor is the best person to advise you on what to expect, so don’t be afraid to ask them plenty of questions. They can also provide you with photos or video to give you a better understanding of you future accommodation.
Types of Housing
The dreaded phrases “You’ll have to ask your Contracting Organization” and “Every situation is different” unfortunately apply to housing and your living situation here in Saga. Depending on your specific placement, there are some considerable variations in terms of size, type, condition, furnishings, and location. JET housing can range in size from a small studio apartment to a large 3 tatami-room house large enough for a family of four!
Prefectural ALTs placed outside of Saga City are given small Leopalace apartments, while those living in Saga City are given (comparatively larger) apartments for teachers and other public servants. Municipal ALTs are often provided with a house/unit or an apartment that is either owned by the town or city they work for or is rented from a private landlord via the ALT’s Board of Education. The Saga City and Arita CIRs live in apartments arranged for by their COs.
**Some COs in recent years have asked new JETs to find entirely new housing instead of inheriting from their predecessor. In this case, hopefully your supervisor will help you out with the process, and you can certainly ask your predecessor/other JETs in the area for neighborhood recommendations.
Key Money and Rent
Saga JETs are typically not expected to pay key money, and the amount of rent you pay is usually heavily subsidized and will account for a fraction of your paycheck. That said, please be sure to confirm these details with your contracting organization.
Some JETs have their rent automatically deducted from their paychecks, while other get an invoice from their supervisors and are required to physically pay their rent (and sometimes other bills) each month.
Most utilities like electricity, gas, water, and a phone line will already be switched over to your name and functional by the time you arrive, or you will do this in the days following your arrival. The exception is your internet access which can take a few weeks to have arranged (see below).
You might want to request to have payment of your utilities to be done via direct debit from your bank account. This will make you life easier, allow you track expenditure and save you many trips to the ATM and convenience store to pay bills. Ask your predecessor what their situation was like to get an idea of what might be in store for you as far as about how much your monthly utilities will cost. If your bills do not automatically deduct you should be diligent about checking and deciphering your mail–bills come in many shapes and sizes and you don’t want to let them go unpaid!
Internet setup usually takes weeks depending on where you live, so get the process started as soon as possible.
In some situations your contracting organization may be able to start the process of getting internet service in your residence even before you have arrived, but you will need to let them know. There are many options and providers. Services such as BBApply can simplify the process a bit and provide you with recommendations. You can also find representatives at major electronics stores. If you are completely lost, your supervisor, DRs, and PA will certainly be able to assist you.
Most schools also have internet access either via a communal computer or a line to your desk, and there are a few internet cafes in the larger cities. At the very least, a kind local JET might also be willing to let you use their computer/internet for emergencies while you’re waiting.
When you are taken to your apartment or house for the first time by your supervisor, try to find out the following:
- How to turn on/set the temperature of the water heater if applicable
- The location of the fuse box
- How to use the air conditioning and shower
- Where you can park your car/scooter/bicycle
- How to turn on the gas stove
Your predecessor will have hopefully left you instructions on how things in your apartment work. For tips about surviving the extremes of winter and summer click here.