Living overseas has its challenges, and a commonly agreed upon one is finding that perfect place to live. To help those of us who are curious about the different options for living on Okinawa, readers have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about on-base housing. If you live in an off-base house that has not yet been featured on this site, please contact our Submissions Manager for the template.
Here’s a great link to access, too, if you’re on the fence as to whether to live on-base or off-base.
CONTRIBUTED BY KIM
1. What is the name of the city where you reside? Yomitan
2. What is the general area (i.e. North Island, Central Island, South Island)? North of Kadena
3. Is there a special name that is associated with your area? (i.e. Sunabe Seawall, Naval Kadena, Kadena Town, etc.) Not that I know of
4. What is the nearest military base near your home? Torii Station or Kadena
5. What is the approximate driving time from your home to the nearest military base? Depending on traffic, about 10-15 minutes to either one
6. What DoDDS school district is your home in? Is there a schoolbus system available? Not a clue…
7. What is the nearest interstate near your home? I’m 30 seconds off of 58
8. Please describe the “feel” of your neighborhood (i.e. pet-friendly, child-friendly, safety, pre-dominantly “American” or “Japanese”, urban, rural, etc.) It feels like a more traditional Japanese neighborhood but there are quite a few Americans scattered around here. I would say small pet-friendly since there is a small yard and kid-friendly although older kids wouldn’t have a ton of space to run around in.
9. Are there places of service in your neighborhood w/in walking distance such as restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, laundromats, parks, bakeries, etc.? There is a farmers market that sells produce, pottery and other wares very close. There is a restaurant/bar right across from that. There are a few other shops still within walking distance but not super convenient. So in a pinch I can walk and find some sustenance but I would definitely count on driving places for the most part.
10. Please describe the style of your home (i.e. Westernized, traditional Japanese, detached family home, townhome, apartment, etc.) Traditional Japanese. We have a tatami room with Shoji screens and a small fish broiler instead of an oven. The bathroom is Japanese style with the toilet by itself and a shower room with a separate, deep Japanese bathtub. But even though it is Japanese style, I think the houses up in this area are generally a pretty good size.
11. Please provide general information about your home such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, the rent, and any special amenities. I think our house is 1400 sq feet. Although I’m not sure if that includes the very large balconies that are great if you want to take advantage of outdoor space. It has only 2 bedrooms, but that is because the wall between 2 rooms was taken down to make a HUGE master bedroom. It works perfectly for us since we have 1 ½ children and plan to keep the 2nd one in our room for a while anyway. The rent is 180,000—and we have “heard” that if the rent is lower than your housing allowance then the rental companies will roll some/all of your utilities into the rent bringing it up to the amount of your housing allowance. Of course that is not an official policy and needs to be discussed privately with each housing company. We have a very small yard which is just fine for our 2 year old and plenty of parking in front of the house.
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.? We do need transformers to run the more power hungry American appliances/tools we have. We have gotten by on just 2 although a 3rd would be convenient. You’ll definitely need to plug the TV and computers into a transformer. My crock pot takes a LONG time to cook a roast if plugged into the regular outlet. There are small things that you may run into that will be different—for example an over the shower head shelf that you used in the States might not work on these showers. Minor inconveniences.
13. Are there special fees associated with living off-base? Nope
14. How is parking provided for your home? We have space in front of the house for probably 6 small cars if parked tightly.
15. Is there any yard space or outdoor spaces provided for your home? Small front yard with room to walk all the way around the house on the outside. Maybe only 3 feet wide on 3 sides of the house. Two balconies upstairs. One is quite large– the equivalent of 2 indoor rooms.
16. What do you feel is special about your home or neighborhood – what makes it feel like “home” here on Okinawa? We really like the feel of the neighborhood up here. You aren’t too far away, but it feels like you’ve left the military bases behind and are really living in Japan.
17. How do you pay the bills for utilities? GI Bill Pay. I believe you can go to the Family Mart and pay cash if you would rather avoid the fees. For us it is worth the $5-ish (depending on the exchange rate at the time) it costs to use the service and not have to deal with any of it.
18. What housing agency did you utilize to find your current home? Joy Housing
19. Are you satisfied with the maintenance services provided by your housing agency? When we first moved in we ran into a few snags and they were very responsive. The 2nd day the gas wasn’t working and they had someone out here within 2 hours.
20. Finally, what advantages and disadvantages do you feel have been your experience living off-base here on Okinawa? I love living off-base because it gives me just that much more separation from the military. I also wanted to feel like I experienced more of the flavor of living in Japan than I would get on a base. The cons then don’t bother me much. I think we get fewer TV channels, we need to be conscientious of our electricity cons
umption, but as long as we pay attention to it, it isn’t too bad. We need to sort our trash and we can’t get the freebies at Eagle Hardware.
If you live in on-base housing OR off-base housing that has not been featured on Okinawa Hai, or in housing that has been renovated since its last post, please contact our Content Manager for the on-base housing template and instructions on how to share your little slice of Okinawa with the rest of us.