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 THERESA
1. What is the name of the city where you reside? Nagahama, Yomitan
2. What is the general area (i.e. North Island, Central Island, South Island)? Central Island, West side
3. Is there a special name that is associated with your area? (i.e. Sunabe Seawall, Naval Kadena, Kadena Town, etc.) Nagahama
4. What is the nearest military base near your home? Torii Station
5. What is the approximate driving time from your home to the nearest military base? 15 minutes to Tori Station, 25 minutes to Camp Lester, 22 minutes to Kadena Gate 1
6. What DODDS school district is your home in? Don’t know. Is there a schoolbus system available? Don’t know
7. What is the nearest interstate near your home? 6, followed by 58
8. Please describe the “feel” of your neighborhood (i.e. pet-friendly, child-friendly, safety, pre-dominantly “American” or “Japanese”, urban, rural, etc.) Predominantly Japanese, with a good smattering of large houses with “Y Plates” (that means Americans) intermixed. Pocket of houses on a large hillside looking down at a bay. Appears child-friendly and safe.
9 Are there places of service in your neighborhood w/in walking distance such as restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, laundromats, parks, bakeries, etc.? Nearest restaurant is about one small block from our house, then the “Café Restaurant” is up the hill, about a 3 minute walk. Small Japanese grocery store down hill at seawall road, 7 min walk. Karate Dojo and Yoga place 2 blocks away.
10. Please describe the style of your home (i.e. Westernized, traditional Japanese, detached family home, townhome, apartment, etc.) Westernized, detached 2-story home.
11. Please provide general information about your home such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, the rent, and any special amenities. Built less than 2 years ago, 2900 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2- ½ baths, nice patio and small yard looking toward water. Has an American dishwasher and gas stove/range, ton’s of storage and a big master bedroom that’s just under 400 square feet. No tatami room, no hardwood floors (tile throughout). Rent is 450,000 yen/month.
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 use a transformer for our toaster oven which is necessary.
13. Are there special fees associated with living off-base? No
14. How is parking provided for your home? Covered parking for 2 large vehicles, and uncovered parking spaces for 3 more.
15. Is there any yard space or outdoor spaces provided for your home? An outdoor shed.
16. What do you feel is special about your home or neighborhood – what makes it feel like “home” here on Okinawa? Definitely the view is foremost, followed by the size of the house, and covered parking is key in Okinawa heat. Also the little restaurants within walking distance. Zakimi Castle Ruins Park is a 10-15 min walk from our house, great place to watch the sun set, love that we are so close to the water and can drive our kayaks down the hill to the seawall.
17. How do you pay the bills for utilities? GI Bill Pay
18. What housing agency did you utilize to find your current home? Dynasty
19. Are you satisfied with the maintenance services provided by your housing agency? Very Satisfied
20. Finally, what advantages and disadvantages do you feel have been your experience living off-base here on Okinawa? Only disadvantage (which may change at some point in the future, was that fiber optic was not available to us when we moved in, we are using DSL which seems to work at around same speed as cable and/or DSL the states, but certainly not like fiber optic.
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.
This is a response to Mary. My husband is active duty and we went to the housing office in Kadena last week to see what our options are. He’s been here since the end of July and I will not get here until May 2010 (it is an accompanied tour but I had to sell a house first before coming). He is presently in unaccompanied housing and will be “booted” out once I get here with the “fuzzy” kids. We were told that anyone who is active duty arriving after July 31st, 2009 has to live on base. We have a friend who is a civilian who got here after that date and he wanted to stay on base (unaccompanied housing) but they “forced” him off base. He actually got a great brand new 4 bedroom single house (American style) overlooking the water (small fenced yard, two car covered car port) close to Camp Courtney for 350,000 yen a month, all utilities (including cable) included. Rents are coming down because there are a lot of units available (because active duty personnel have to live on base). Best of luck in your travels here. Donna
Fiber is still near, but not yet in Nagahama. GLBB has a wireless fiber service that branches out from Kokomo apartment (the tall white one). I get way better speeds than ADSL, but it has its good times and bad (bad being around ADSL speed). So if you live near Kokomo (top of the BIG hill in Nagahama), you might want to check it out.
I am looking for a cheap smal appartment to rent.
The reason I want to rent it is because I need to stay close to my Sensei at Nagahame Shibu Dojo.
If nyone can help me , send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
One note on the fiber. If you look at the power/telephone lines, the fiber line will be the one that is coiled around the bottom (telephone) line. That is an easy way to see if fiber is already run in the area.
I realize this post is a bit old, but I also live in Nagahama. The biggest disadvantage that I can see is the lack of Fiber optic internet (I had it before in Chatan). I know I seen a B-Flets(NTT Fiber) truck installing in the area so you may want to check with your ISP to see if they have ran the lines through the area already. I know I still can’t get it though. 🙁
Mary, we came in late August 2008, towards the later part of PCS summer season. We found this place by luck. We lived in the West Pac Inn for just over 2.5 weeks. When we got ready to sign the contract, we told them we absolutely couldn’t move in for another week, (you will not get OHA until you actually move in) because we couldn’t secure furniture delivery till then. We were worried that this would be a deal breaker. Not so. You will learn this strategy at the housing brief so you won’t be talked into moving into an empty house, but I digress…
We were very picky initially and did not want to compromise certain things. e.g. We have kayaks and needed a place to store them and easy, quick access to water. The quote for your OHA is monthly. So what you see is per month, not per pay period. Also, if I might give you my two cents. We looked at houses with multiple agencies, whoever was available and called us with something. Within about two days, we became more protective of our time, and started asking detailed questions about the property they wanted to show us before spending hours looking at places that didn’t remotely resemble what we had requested. For example: we had stated in the application (which you will fill out at the Housing Office at Kadena) that we wanted something with a view, within a 1/2 mile of the beach or water, and commutable to Lester, and they were showing us houses (some beautiful) 3-4 miles from the beach or in the middle of town, with absolutely no view or only a view from the upstairs bedroom or something perfect but near Hanson, 1 hour away from work. This went on for a couple of days. They would also show us crappy things less than 1/2 of our OHA. We started getting wise to this, and before we’d agree to look at places, we’d ask the agent for the rent, if there was an ocean view from main floor, distance from beach access, number of bathrooms, square footage, miles from Lester. If it didn’t “add up”, we’d wouldn’t go see it. You must remember that the system here is unlike the US when you have a real estate agent and their job is to find you a house that fits your desires and needs. The way it works here is that an apartment building or hone owner will hire multiple agencies to push their units. Some landlords might only use one or two specific agencies. So it’s not like your housing agent has access and listings to everything available. They are Leasor agents, not renter’s agents. From a showing standpoint, they are only your advocate in so long as necessary to seal the deal. They might know of a perfect place, but it’s not “handled” by them, so they will not show it to you or even tell you about it. It behooves them to only show you their stuff, and it behooves them to show you the crappy stuff that nobody wants first, (this happened to us) thinking you barely got here, have no frame of reference for location, distance, availability or quality, are stressed and want to get into your house, are worried about reimbursement TLE, etc, etc. All these things are true, so it’s a game of patience and perseverance, balanced with being realistic and realizing you can’t have it all at whatever your price point is. It could just be timing. As for how we got this place for so low, we told them we will only pay our OHA (we are both active duty so our OHA is double), and the agent manager went to the owner and talked him into accepting us, saying it was late in the season and he would be lucky to get that. This property was listed as 750,000 yen/month. Also, one last thing, many of the places shown to us were 1,000-2,000 dollars less than our OHA, and MOST agents (a few said it “wasn’t allowed”) agreed to throw in electricity and gas and trash. This is between you and the agency (not you and the landlord).
Overall, it’s an “interesting” system which works fine as long as you know they are working for the landlords, not you. On a positive note, once you seal the deal, the agencies are really great. Getting maintenance done, etc. Dynasty is great, Natsu was our agent and she worked hard for us.
Good luck, also we prior to landing our place, we saw several beautiful brand new places for around 200,000 yen, even less, usually they were “mansions” which is equivalent to a flat in a high rise or apartment building which takes up the entire floor. Tile or hardwood floors, nice views, American range/stoves and dishwashers. They were nice enough that we were considering going with one of these places despite the wasted OHA, also since most of them were willing to throw in utilities. Tori Mansion is gorgeous inside, but the view is more land than water.
Sorry, I posted that comment on the wrong place. But I still would like to know how you got a home for 450,000. I am trying to figure our allowance and I think it is 210,000. But not sure if that is once a mnth or two times a month. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for sharing all your information with us. We too, are moving to Okinawa in May and I have been very nervous over the quality of the houses I have seen on line. Not knowing exactly what our Housing allowance will be only makes it harder to look too. I too, would like to know how you negotiated your rent to that low of a price, for what seems to be such a beautiful home.
Any help in that area would be appreciated. Also, do you know if the amount you look up to be your allowance is for both pay periods or just one. For instance, if it says we get 210,000 yen, is that on 1st and 15th or just the once. I am so confused.
Thank you for any help you can give.