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.


Living_space Kitchen Dining_area_2 Bedroom Childrens_roomBathtub Outdoor_space


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.


  1. I lived in Okinawa from 1975 to 1978, when my father was stationed at Kadena. Off base, we lived in a housing development simply called “Morgan Manor.” It was likely off of Kadena Circle, but I am not certain. Others who lived there say it may have been in Yomitan. Do you know if this development is still around and specifically what city it was/is in? In the ’60s, it was used as CIA housing. It featured both Quonset huts and concrete, flat-roofed homes. Thanks for reading this.

    Lisa Bertotto Schmelz
    A 44-year-old Brat

    • I lived at C-145 North Morgan Manor in 1988, real close to the back gate of Torri Station, I think it was in Yoniton, before here we lived in Nakasona Mansion off of Hwy 6 (Ithink) on the way to Torri
      Off base housing sure seems to got a lot nicer and updated from reading these post

  2. So my husband gets home yesterday and I’m all up in arms about this $500 or $600 that we’ve been missing all this time and he says that you are all crazy and there is no utilities allowance and I tell him that you all always seem to know what you’re talking about, so he goes and pulls up a check online… and the lightbulb clicks on and it isn’t labeled “utility stipend” or anything like that, there just happens to be $500 or so more in our housing allowance than we should qualify for by rank. So, I assume that is what you meant and so sorry for doubting! 😛

  3. Ouch – an hour IS a long ride! Wow – my daughter gets picked up at 8 and I had always thought that was a pretty good time, now I realize it’s REALLY late! I’d be tempted to send her in PJs with a sleeping bag and a pillow. What school is that? Bob Hope starts later, so I think the timing might depend on the age of the kid. They stagger start times for the buses.

    Kimberly, there’s a utility stipend from the military to cover gas & electric, and I agree with Mishka – it’s better to get the $500+ for utilities (that you usually don’t spend all of except for maybe in the summer months with A/C, but we never went over) than roll it into your rent. The exact amount of the utility money differs due to the fluctuating yen rate.

    With rent, you get what you get and if you spend less, you don’t get the difference – with the utility stipend, you get the same amount no matter what, so if you’re wise about utility use, you could put a little away for other expenses.

  4. You get a monthly allowance for utilities. I think right now it’s 612,-.

    The bus ride is about an hour each way. My daughter catches the bus at 6:11 a.m.

    If I start my day early I drive her so she can “sleep in”.


  5. My friend in Yomitan – her kids go to Bob Hope Primary & Amelia Earheart Secondary on Kadena.

    Parents don’t have to pull bus duty anymore, that used to be the case. Now there are regular bus monitors that are paid to do so.

    Though your kids will be on the bus for a bit longer to get there, it’s not so bad from what my friend tells me. You can always opt to drive your kids to school of course.

  6. Thank you for the information, Mishka. I was wondering about the schoolbus system myself. I do also wonder what DODDS school system Yomitan is zoned for? I am assuming Kadena schools since that seems to be the nearest base with schools.

    You do have a lovely home, Kim. Thanks for sharing!

  7. What electricity stipend? Am I supposed to be getting money to pay my electric bill? We didn’t actually roll that into rent, but I don’t get a stipend. Is there some paperwork that is supposed to be filled out?

  8. Looks like Kim has a lovely home. Thanks for sharing. We love living off base as well.

    Just a couple of notes from someone that has lived off base for over 5 years now. While some housing agencies will offer to roll some/or all of your utilities into your rent to meet up with your allowance, if you do it with the electicity, you will not get the electricity stipend from the govt that is intended for electricity. I would recommend not doing it with electricity unless you know you are going to spend more than the stipend in electricity because you could be shooting yourself in the foot othewise. Our electricity is not even close to the amount of the stipend so getting the stipend is like free money for us but I know that some families use lots more electricity than we do and it does cost a pretty penny here.

    Oh, and I believe that there is a bus system for the DODDS schools that runs the length of Hwy6 (at least to Torii station), but lots of parents opt out of it because sometimes they pick up very early and there is also a requirement for parents to do a certain amount of bus riding themselves as chaparone and if there is only one parent around and other kids at home, this can be hard to work out. The bus policies might have changed since last I checked (most of my friends with kids live on base these days) but it is there if you need it as an option.