Procurement of Apartment
In Japan, the deposit for renting an apartment is very expensive, averaging US$3,000 just to move in. We realize this expense is quite difficult for ALTs to bear, especially when you first arrive, so the Sendai Board of Education (BOE) arranges apartments for you and pays the deposit. All you have to do is move in!
The ALT Advisor inspects all the apartments before they are chosen to ensure that an ALT's basic needs are met. Although most apartments are small by western standards, we have done everything possible to find a comfortable, convenient place for you to live with an easy commute to work and affordable rent. We try our best to provide satisfactory accommodation for you. An average apartment is about 30m square. Larger apartments are provided for married couples when possible. See A Typical ALT Apartment (text below, photos to the right) to view a clean and relatively newer ALT apartment (note: apartments don't come furnished, and the pictures are just an example, all apartments are different!).
A Typical ALT Apartment
Most Sendai ALTs live in a standard studio-style apartment. The front door opens onto a galley kitchen, leading to the main room. Generally, the flooring is wood laminate. Off the kitchen/entrance hall is a utility area for your washing machine, plus a toilet and separate bath/shower room. Many apartments also have a balcony area for drying clothes.
ALTs on the outskirts of Sendai typically have slightly larger apartments, possibly with two rooms instead of one main room, and they may also have a washitsu (Japanese style tatami floored room). When possible, couples may be provided with slightly larger apartments, but most apartments in order to stay in an ALT's budget are aimed at single occupancy.
Items provided by the BOE:
The following items will be loaned to you by the Board of Education: futon (Japanese sleeping mattress), washing machine, refrigerator, and a gas cooking range.
At the end of your time with us we expect to have all items, except the futon, which you should dispose of, returned to us in good working condition. They will be used by the person who replaces you. Extra items or furniture can be purchased from ALTs who are leaving Japan.
Please note that BOE lent appliances are only provided to ALTs living in BOE leased apartments (if you move to your own privately apartment, you will need to buy your own).
Apartments have air-conditioning installed, and all have gas heating unit for cooking/water heating. All apartments will also be equipped with light fixtures.
Items not provided by the BOE would include beds, sofas, stereos, TVs, cooking utensils, rice cookers, microwaves, toasters, irons, heaters, tables, shelves, desks, curtains, etc. Your predecessor may have some of these home comforts for sale, which would save you the hassle of shopping when you arrive.
Apartment Leases and Moving
In order to lease an apartment in Japan, you typically need a guarantor, or a co-signer. For Japanese people, this is usually a family member, but being unable to find a co-signer is one of the main obstacles for non-Japanese (ALT or not) to get an apartment on their own in Japan. BOE apartments are leased in the name of the Mayor of the City of Sendai, so the BOE expects ALTs to take good care of their apartments and be responsible tenants.
The BOE has the right to ask an ALT to move out of their BOE apartment at any time. In the case the ALT will still be working as a Sendai BOE ALT, and the ALT wants one, a new BOE apartment will be arranged. Non-recontracting ALTs leaving at their end of their contracts are expected to exit their BOE apartments late in July of their final contract year before the month is up. This is in order to accommodate newly arriving ALTs.
ALTs may chose to move between BOE apartments. This is limited to ALTs that are moving schools, which is required every two years in Sendai. Exceptions will be made for non-school-movers only in very special circumstances or if the BOE is ending the lease on your apartment. ALTs wishing to privately lease their own apartment may move out of their BOE apartment at anytime, even if they are not moving schools, although in the case of private leasing, ALTs are still expected to pay rent on their BOE apartment until the lease can be properly ended without penalty or a new ALT moves into it. BOE apartments are leased for ALTs on a yearly basis. For this reason, ALTs wanting to move into their own private apartments generally line their move up with the change over of the ALT contract year in order to avoid paying rent on two apartments for an extended period of time.
If an ALT moves, whether to another BOE apartment or a private apartment, the move, transfer of utilities, and all related expenses are the total responsibility of the ALT. This is also true in cases when the BOE is ending the lease on a BOE apartment and must as the ALT to move to a different BOE apartment.
If you ever have questions or are thinking about moving, please contact the ALT Seikatsu (General) Advisor.
Rental fees for current ALT apartments are between Y47,000 and Y77,000 a month. Apartments downtown or near a major station will typically be more expensive, as will larger apartments for couples, and those in 'mansion' style buildings. Most ALTs pay around Y55,000-65,000. Rent is paid on a monthly basis and will not be prorated in the case of occupancy of less than a month in any case.
All utilities are your responsibility. Most of your bills can be directly debited from your bank account. Please talk with your supervisor about setting it up with a local bank after you arrive. Alternatively, you can pay many bills at the convenience store. Of course, that means remembering to pay them! The following table provides some estimates from veteran Sendai ALTs.
Average Monthly Bills
Service Summer(yen) Winter (yen)
Gas (cooking/hot water) 3-8000 4-10000
Electricity (cooking/lights) 2-3000 3-5000
Water (shower/washing) 2-3000 2-4000
Kerosene (heater) - 2-4000
Apartment Inspection & Repairs
When ALTs leave their apartments, their supervisor completes a checklist confirming the condition/cleanliness of the apartment. When you arrive in Sendai, your new home should be clean and in good condition. If there are any problems with your apartment on your arrival, please ask your supervisor to note them on the checklist (we will therefore know that you were not responsible).
When it is your turn to leave the apartment, we expect it to be in good condition. ALTs may be living in the apartment for ten or more years after you, so please take good care of your home.
Repairs to apartments are the responsibility of the landlord, who can be contacted through the real estate agent (your school has the phone number) or the BOE. Repairs to BOE-supplied appliances will be arranged by us. All other repairs are your responsibility, including changing light bulbs and batteries and the maintenance of your own items.
Keys and Locks
Shidoka keeps a copy of your key, if you have a physical key, in the office. If you have a digital lock, we also keep a record of the codes for each BOE apartment`s digital lock. If you change your digital lock code, please be sure to notify the Seikatsu Advisor.
Although Shidoka keeps copies of your keys and codes, please be aware that Shidoka will never enter your apartment without your permission or you being present. The copies are kept mostly for the case of ALTs locking themselves out of their apartments or for emergencies (medical or otherwise).
If you lose your physical key, you can come by Shidoka to pick up the original, make a copy, and then return the original to us. If you lose your key outside of office hours, on a weekend or holiday when the office is closed, you will need to contact a locksmith to let you in to your apartment. Locksmiths can let you to both keyed and digitally locked apartments.
Digital locks require maintenance. If you let the battery run too low, your lock will stop functioning. Please read about digital locks here in the Appliances section.
If you find yourself locked out, here are locksmiths in Sendai that you can contact. Here are two examples ALTs have used before. They are 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but the operators will likely only speak Japanese.
Locations in Kotodaikoen (Tel. 022-711-9948) and Rokuchonome (Tel. 022-288-9969), serving all 5 wards.
Serving the general Sendai Area. (Tel. 0120-3333-99)