A year back, the first place I went to here in Tokyo is my new home – the Tokyo International Exchange Center. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me the best place I’ve lived in my entire life. A month ago, they sent me an email – they are kicking me out.
The Start of the Journey
Once I got into the compound, I went immediately to the Admin office. It’s basically the area where there are rows and rows of flags. The entrance is at the back, in a corner. There’s plenty of sign pointing to the admin office.
I got in and presented my resident’s ID and passport, I think, upon registration. I simply have to fill up a couple of forms, and since they speak English, it was pretty easy. They also give you an invoice to pay in a convenience store. You can pay it in Daily Yamazaki, which is at the ground level of building B. They then give you your keys and take you to your room.
The TIEC Layout
There are four buildings – A, B, C and D. I’ve only been in A, B (I live there) and C.
Building A is for singles, but with limited appliances and space. It’s the cheapest option, and based on my observation, has the cheapest price that does not change as much as the other 3.
Building B is also for singles. It has air conditioning, refrigerator, washing machine (from wash to dry), iron, iron board, vacuum cleaner, bed, mattress, all sheets (for JPY7,000 annual lease, you get a bed mat, sheet, fleece layer, futon, futon cover, pillow covers, and futon), cabinets, stove, table (study table and circular), lamps, and air conditioning. Basically, what you need to bring from wherever you are from are clothes, cooking tools and utensils (should you plan to cook), and other personal items/consumables.
Building C and D are for couples. I don’t know much, all I know is that it’s extremely big. More than twice the size of a B room, and yet only with around 50% price premium.
You have to pay:
1. Rent – automatic deduction from your bank account. Prices have been increasing (2016 & 2017) for B, C, D and E. The 2017 increase was around 15%. But if you’ve signed a contract, then don’t worry. Price changes don’t affect current contracts.
2. Electricity – there’s a daily charge of, er, JPY50 if think? Or JPY30? You precharge your account in a machine in the Admin area.
3. Telephone – there’s a daily charge of JPY10, I think. Precharging is the same with Electricity.
Regarding daily charges, I believe you need to pay them regardless. When I missed paying for the telephone, I had a negative amount in my account!
I paid around JPY10,000 per month for electricity WHEN I used the heater daily. It can go way lower otherwise (around JPY3,000 or 4,000 a month, probably). I also cooked almost every night.
- Daily Yamazaki. The most convenient one, there’s a convenience store that sells food right in Building B.
- Maruetsu. There’s one right next to the Daiba-Kaihinkouen station of Yurikamome line. It’s way cheaper than a convenience store. For example, a liter of milk is JPY180 in Maruetsu, JPY250 in Daily Yamazaki.
- Green Market. Every couple of days (Monday, Wednesday (?) and Thursday (?), around 7pm to 8:30pm, Sunday around 3pm). I’ve been here a year, I still don’t have their schedule memorized with certainty. It’s way cheaper – for example, one (head?) of garlic at JPY150 in Maruetsu. JPY150 in the green market gets you three.
- Coop. A service I’ve never tried, they cook food and deliver it to you daily.
Utensils, Equipment and the Like (update: August 28, 2017)
What about the utensils? Pots? Any equipment needed?
Technically, the only items you need to purchase are cooking tools (other than stove) and utensils. You can also purchase other things if you want – like a fan (to save on electricity), a sofa (to, er, sit on? because the two chairs provided are not comfy enough?), a piano (there’s a music room btw, it has a piano on it), or anything else. For these items, where can you go other than the specialty places or taking them from home?
- Daiso. Yep, go for that hundred yen store. There’s one in Diver City (6th floor) and another in Venus Fort (basement, I think). If you can buy it in a hundred yen shop, for goodness’ sake, don’t buy it anywhere else.
- TIEC Flea Market. Go to Facebook and look for the TIEC Flea Market Group. This is the group for people who don’t really care about the money – they really would just want to dispose of their stuff because you have to pay money to dispose of things. Sometimes they do charge prices though, and the free ones gets claimed FAST. Better hurry.
- Amazon. If Daiso fails to deliver and you are just unlucky with the TIEC Flea Market, then Amazon will be there to the rescue! It’s actually cheaper sometimes to buy here than anywhere else, and it’s FAR TOO CONVENIENT. I so love Amazon. Rakuten is a stronger competitor, but well, I already paid my student’s premium access to Amazon so I’m staying put.
- Other shops in Odaiba. Just explore! There’s Nitori (home furnitures?) in Venus Fort, and other various shops all over. I’m very happy with the first three though, so I never had to buy from others.
Life in TIEC
The daily life is pretty simple. You have your own mailbox, and there’s a communal delivery box where people can leave things for you. You have your own unit, and you basically are there alone… forever. :p What are the other facilities?
- Lounge. There’s a lounge area in every floor, just in case you and your friends wanna hang out and chat.
- Training room. There’s three treadmills, four cycling machines, weights, etc. You need to register for a training before you get access, so do it once you get in. It’s open around 6am to 12mn, so it’s a pretty good deal.
- Gym. Yes, you get a gym for free. Just register to reserve a time spot in Admin. There’s a limit of 4 hours a week per team (because you also write the name and room number of who you’re playing with). They have a basketball court, table tennis area, soccer area, a net for badminton (or whatever needs a net), etc.
- Guest house. This is a dorm, not an apartment. Hence, the room is only for YOU. If you have other people coming in, family members can be accommodated at the guest house, at a fee. I don’t remember the rate, but it’s a pretty good deal if you compare to a hotel.
- Music room. Never been there, but I peeked and there’s a grand piano inside!
- Barbecue Area. Guess what this area is for.
Short term. If you are coming back but will be out for a couple of days, you send them and email to let them know. I don’t think this is critical, but it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes so why not.
Long term. You’ll still pay rent, so think about it carefully. No special procedures, though I’m not sure how it’ll work if longer than a month. I was gone for almost two months (coming back for around a day every two weeks), and there’s nothing special I had to do.
Exit. At least a month’s notice is needed, and you personally have to go to Admin to sign some papers and reserve your spot for the final inspection. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.
So. That’s it, I think. Did I miss anything? Just ask!