Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Looking for houses

Yesterday was the Housing Brief, wherein we were informed of the process to go about finding a house here. Basically we were told we should make sure we sign a "navy lease" as opposed to a normal japanese lease because with the Navy Lease we don't need a co-signer, we can give 10 days notice (if we have to), and the Navy can get involved if there are any legal problems. I think that's going to be the way to go.

As contractors, we can't get appliances from the Housing Office, but otherwise we can take advantage of their other services such as listings, translators, etc... So it's a pretty good deal for us.

I had to run to another appointment with my company right after, so Kerri began looking through binders. It was kind of like shooting in the dark, so she just picked one at what we understood was our price range and made an appointment to see it later that day.

Meanwhile, I was getting the unfortunate news that due to contract changes, the way housing expenses are paid has changed. Instead of a cap and being reimbursed, we are being paid a flat amount each month. This amount is about $1000 less than we would have had if we had used all of our cap under the old system. We are still reeling from this alteration to things...

But we made our appointment to see the house anyway as at least it would get us off base (finally!) and out seeing what things look like. The first house was a disappointment. Aside from being too expensive, it was more "western" in style with only one tatami room, and felt very small. I think that's what comes of trying to do "western" style in a small space. The japanese approach seems to make more use of the space available with the sliding walls and such. Also, the building quality of the house was oddly felt like the same materials used in a motorhome...lots of plastic and such. The final kicker was that the house was no where near any train or bus lines, so getting to work would be difficult for me.

So our agent (having learned more about our price restrictions and desires) showed us another house more in line with our new budget. It's a kilometer from a train station, very much more traditional in style, and quite large for the price (maybe too large actually). But we really liked the place and the area, so are pretty excited about it. Trying not to do our usual thing and jump on it right away...we do have time to keep looking. I took some pictures of this place and will try to put them up with this post.

Today we'll look at more listings at the Housing Office and try to set up more appointments. I've got an HR call early in the morning, but then nothing for the rest of the day. I've been told to keep Friday flexible as there may be more things to do (work wise) there. My first "real" day of work is supposed to be Jan 30. We have pretty much the rest of this week to keep working on finding a house. Next week is a week long orientation, so I don't think we'll have much time to look around. We are supposed to find a place within 2 weeks, but I don't know if that will happen. My employer seems to think it won't happen that fast either as we've been booked here at the Navy Lodge for 30 days (instead of the more common 14).

Oh, some of you may wonder what happened to our plans to find a short-term lease in a furnished place. Well that went down the tubes pretty quickly as 1) it's very expensive and 2) would pretty much restrict us to Yokohama and a downtown lifestyle (which I'm ok with, but Kerri and Rowan are not so cool with). So we decided to give up on that and just try to find our permanent home nearer Yokosuka than we originally had hoped. This means we probably won't be able to go to the church downtown Tokyo we were hoping to try out. There are some other churches nearby, including one affiliated with Victory in the philippines (my dad's church). We'll probably try them out next Sunday. There's also a Baptist church just outside the base.

Here's a map with directions from the base entrance to the house we looked at yesterday:

View Larger Map

And here are some pictures:

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