Off Base Housing, near Kadena & Foster: Awase/Okinawa City

Living overseas has its challenges and a commonly agreed upon one is finding that perfect place to live. To help those of us curious about the different options for living on Okinawa, we feature a different place of residence almost every Monday. 

Christy has let us glimpse into her lovely home. Thank you so much Christy!!

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OKINAWA OFF-BASE HOUSING INFORMATION TEMPLATE

1.  What is the name of the city where you reside?  AWASE/OKINAWAY CITY

2. What is the general area (i.e. North Island , Central Island , South Island )? CENTRAL

3. Is there a special name that is associated with your area? (i.e. Sunabe Seawall,  Naval Kadena, Kadena Town , etc.)  AWASE. STRAIGHT OUT GATE 2 OF KADENA. 15-20 MIN.

4. What is the nearest military base near your home?  KADENA IS ABOUT 20 MINUTES AWAY, AND SO IS FOSTER

5. What is the approximate driving time from your home to the nearest military base? 20 MINUTES

6. What DODDS school district is your home in?  Is there a school bus system available?  YES, THERE IS. ON A STREET CORNER, AND NEXT YEAR I WILL HAVE TO DRIVE OUR DAUGHTER TO THE BUS CORNER

7. What is the nearest interstate near your home?  NOT SURE…WE’RE KINDA NEW. BEEN HERE 3 MONTHS.

8.  Please describe the “feel” of your neighborhood (i.e. pet-friendly, child-friendly, safety, pre-dominantly “American” or “Japanese”, urban, rural, etc.)  VERY SAFE. ONLY 2 OTHER AMERICAN FAMILIES NEAR US THAT I KNOW OF. EVERYONE KEEPS TO THEMSELVES. I HARDLY SEE ANY NEIGHBORS!

9. Are there places of service in your neighborhood w/in walking distance such as restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, laundromats, parks, bakeries, etc.?  YES, PLACES TO EAT ARE CLOSE. PARKS ARE CLOSE TOO

10. Please describe the style of your home (i.e. Westernized, traditional Japanese, detached family home, town home, apartment, etc.)  TRADITIONAL JAPANESE. WE STRONGLY REGRET NOT RENTING A WESTERNIZED HOME, AND NOW WE ARE CONSIDERING MOVING WHEN OUR LEASE IS UP. WE HAVE NO DISHWASHER, NO GARBAGE DISPOSAL, AND NO OVEN. ALL JAPANESE APPLIANCES. OUR WASHER AND DRYER ARE VERY SMALL AND WE HAVE TO MAKE TRIPS TO THE LAUNDRY MAT TO DO OUR LAUNDRY B/C THE LOADS GET OVERWHELMING.  I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE SO INTERESTING TO LIVE AS AND AMONG THE JAPANESE. NOW, I DO NOT FEEL THAT WAY. MAKE SURE YOU THINK ABOUT MAKING THE CHOICE BETWEEN WESTERNIZED AND JAPANESE HOUSING!

11. Please provide general information about your home such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, the rent, and any special amenities.  2000 SQ FT, 3 BEDROOMS, 1.5 BATHS, 1-CAR GARAGE, TATAMI ROOM, SMALL BACKYARD, WOOD FLOORS THROUGHOUT. TONS AND TONS OF CLOSET SPACE. OLDER, CONCRETE HOME WITH 2 UPPER BALCONIES. ORIGINAL LIST PRICE WAS 300,000YEN PER MONTH. WE TALKED THEM DOWN TO 185,000YEN. RENT IS VERY NEGOTIABLE WITH MOST AGENCIES! DO NOT BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE YOUR RENT. I ALSO HAD THEM INSTALL A BRAND NEW STOVE TOP AND HIRE A CLEANING SERVICE PRIOR TO US MOVING IN. DON’T SETTLE FOR SOMETHING THAT IS LISTED EXACTLY AT YOUR ALLOWANCE CAP. YOU CAN GET BETTER HOUSING…JUST NEGOTIATE!

12. Are there any special accommodations or tasks that you’ve had to do to make your home useful such as purchasing transformers, appliances, etc.?  NO, BUT I DID HAVE TO BUY A CONVECTION OVEN B/C WE DO NOT HAVE AN OVEN HERE. OUR OUTLETS ARE AMERICAN STYLE.

13. Are there special fees associated with living off-base?  HIGH, HIGH, HIGH ELECTRICITY COSTS!!!!! BUT…THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT YOU GET OFF-BASE LIVING ALLOWANCE AND THAT COVERS OUR ELECTRIC BILL. OUR HIGH BILL AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER WAS AROUND $400. WE DO NOT USE ALL A/C UNITS ALL DAY EITHER. WE TURN UPSTAIRS OFF DURING THE DAY AND VICE VERSA. ALSO WE HAVE TO PAY FOR KEROSENE. THAT IS WHAT HEATS OUR WATER.

14. How is parking provided for your home?  WE HAVE A ONE-CAR GARAGE, BUT WE DO NOT USE IT. WE PARK IN AN OPEN FIELD THAT IS DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR HOUSE.

15. Is there any yard space or outdoor spaces provided for your home?  WE HAVE A VERY SMALL YARD. MY KIDS ACTUALLY PLAY ON THE TOP BALCONIES MORE. THERE IS JUST ENOUGH SPACE FOR A CLIMBER, AND A FEW SMALL TOYS…AND FOR THE DOGS TOILET =)    OUR GRILLE IS ALSO BACK THERE.

16. What do you feel is special about your home or neighborhood  – what makes it feel like “home” here on Okinawa ?  WE JUST GOT HERE…AND I’M HONESTLY NOT WILD ABOUT LIVING IN OKINAWA. I’M NOT AN ISLAND TYPE OF PERSON. BUT WE ARE HERE FOR 4 YEARS, SO I AM MAKING THE BEST OF IT. MY FAMILY IS HEALTHY, AND SO FOR THAT I FEEL GRATEFUL. I DO NOT THINK THIS WILL EVER FEEL LIKE “HOME”. I AM HOMESICK…GREW UP IN THE STATES. I PREFER TO THINK OF THIS ASA  “ROUGH 4-YEAR VACATION”!

17. How do you pay the bills for utilities?  GI BILL PAY

18. What housing agency did you utilize to find your current home?  JOY HOUSING. AGENT WAS SHOGO. HE WAS VERY GOOD TO US

19. Are you satisfied with the maintenance services provided by your housing agency?  YEAH, I GUESS. OUR KEROSENE RAN OUT AND WE HAD TO REFUEL IT OURSELVES, OR WE’D HAVE NO WARM WATER.

20. Finally, what advantages and disadvantages do you feel have been your experience living off-base here on Okinawa ?  I FEEL SOMEWHAT ISOLATED LIVING OFF-BASE. WE LIVE IN A QUIET JAPANESE COMMUNITY… AND IN A HIGH TRAFFIC AREA AND TRAFFIC DRIVES ME ABSOLUTELY NUTS! THE ADVANTAGES OF LIVING OFF-BASE ARE THAT WE GET TO EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE. I THINK IF I LIVED ON-BASE, I’D NEVER LEAVE. SO LIVING OFF-BASE FORCES ME TO BE OPEN TO NEW ADVENTURES AND EXPERIENCES. I HAVE NO CHOICE. =)

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14 Comments
  • February 9, 2009

    Now that’s a cool house!

    staci
    Reply
  • February 9, 2009

    I like that you have a pittie!!! :o)

    Reply
  • February 9, 2009

    We rent through Joy Housing also (agent is Ritsuko) – such an awesome agency! We’ve rented through another agency before and, oh my goodness, that agency was terrible – they’re sharks! We moved and rented through Joy Housing and can’t be more pleased with our agent and the agency. :)

    EM
    Reply
  • February 10, 2009

    Hi, can you tell me how many family members you have living there with you?

    I am moving to the island in a few weeks.
    This negotiating thing makes me sort of nervous.
    Can you give me some tips? Neither my husband or myself reall know how to do that. Our cap will be 180,000 yen.

    lottie
    Reply
  • February 10, 2009

    Thanks so much for sharing the detailed info on your new home. I love the way you decorated every room (even the bathroom) with plants. It really looks like a warm home. I clicked on all your pictures to see how you made each room look so lovely. Even the somewhat awkward spaces were made perfectly beautiful by your charming decor.
    I especially appreciate your tips on negotiating and the specific details of exactly how much you were able to negotiate for. We’re moving to Okinawa, also for 4 years, in June and want to live off base.
    I know there’s no way I can hack it with a Japanese micro washing machine/dryer set. Are the other appliances working OK for you?

    sheena
    Reply
  • February 10, 2009

    LOTTIE – just let the agencies know that you’re only willing to pay within your cap. Our cap is 180,000 also, but we were willing to pay some out of pocket for the house that we got. For 180,000 though, you can still get a very nice single house. Make sure you ask for a unit with a heater along with the AC – we moved out of our other house because it didn’t have a heater and we were freezing in the house.
    Let me know if you need help or have any other questions – feel free to email: uruma17001@yahoo.com.

    EM
    Reply
  • February 11, 2009

    ^ Thanks EM!!

    Lottie R.
    Reply
  • February 12, 2009

    Hello Christy,

    Thank you so much for sharing. You have a beautiful home. Take care

    Reply
  • February 14, 2009

    You can get your housing agency to schedule kerosene refilling by a company that comes by but you will pay Japanese prices for kerosene which is much higher than if you do it yourself from the pumps on base. We have better fuel prices than the locals do so I guess we should consider ourselves lucky. We had a kerosene water heater when we lived here last time. We would just use a 5 gallon gas can to get kerosene when we were on base and keep in relatively full all the time.

    This is our second tour here, we have always chosen to live off base in a Japanese style house and love it. Wouldn’t have it any other way. We have never had a problem getting our utilities to fit inside the amount we get paid for housing and utilities from the govt because the Japanese style houses are built for the weather here and stay much cooler and warmer during the correct seasons.

    I don’t really recommend a Japanese style house to people with large animals or kids because the shoji screens and tatami mats are pretty fragile. I love my little appliances so that has never been a problem. I do use a transformer on my entertainment stuff (TV, DVD player, Wii, and stereo) and another one on my computer system in my office. All of these things would run without it but they will wear out faster because of the wattage difference and the requirements that these appliances are labeled to need.

    Negotiating works with some places but you have to keep in mind that some of the Japanese style houses are just being rented at what the mortage is…they didn’t build the home to rent it, in most cases, they just had to move to a new city. Both houses we have lived in were just lived in by the owners themselves. In one case, they got new jobs in Naha and didn’t want to do the commute, and in the second case the owner couldn’t afford the mortgage and is renting it to use right at his cost. During the summer months, the negotiating is harder because there are tons of places available and lots of eager shoppers…but there are lots of housing agencies to try and you will find a good fit for you if you just take your time and look around.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2009

    I really couldn’t find an appropriate place to ask this question: Does anyone know of storage facilites anywhere? We live off base and have excess stuff that needs to be stored.

    Tara F
    Reply
  • March 3, 2009

    We are often asked how to pay electricity when living off base (if not with GI Bill Pay). Rec’d this from our housing agent.

    http://www.city.okinawa.okinawa.jp/sitemanage/contents/attach/2212/Electricity.pdf

    Kimber
    Reply
  • March 3, 2009

    Tara, there are storage facilities off base. Here is the one I have heard the most about.

    http://www.okinawastorage.com/

    Kimber, you can take any of your utilities bills that you don’t pay through your housing agency to any convenience store before the due date on the bill. After the due date, some must be paid at a bank or at the utility company itself.

    Reply
  • April 12, 2009

    Hi Christy..I see it’s been a few months since your house was posted. How are you feeling about your place now? How do like the Awase area? We just rented the house directly in front of Japanese Restaurant on the 85 but won’t move in for a couple of weeks. We took a walk along the sea wall and through the neighborhood. It was nice, but I’m still pretty uneasy about living away from the ease of base. Any thoughts? Hope to run into you some day…

    cindy nunez
    Reply
  • April 14, 2009

    Cindy – you are finally here huh?? Hope you are enjoying it!

    Sarah
    Reply