Expert dishes on important factors that are leading young people to shun living in certain areas of the capital in favor of other suburban centers. 

Young and moving to Tokyo for work or study? You may want to think a little outside of the box in terms of where to rent an apartment, or at least evaluate which factors are most important to you when it comes to a desirable place to live.

Real estate agency Suumo‘s recent 2018 survey of the most desirable places to live in and around the Tokyo area found some interesting trends between the age of respondents and their top living picks. The most dramatic difference was related to the traditionally coveted Kichijoji neighborhood of western Tokyo which is often ranked high in this type of housing survey but performed underwhelmingly for the 20s demographic. Compare the overall rankings for respondents of all ages polled with the 20s-only crowd below:

Top ten places I want to live (20s-40s demographic):

  1. Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture)
  2. Ebisu (Tokyo Prefecture)
  3. Kichijoji (Tokyo Prefecture)
  4. Shinagawa (Tokyo Prefecture)
  5. Ikebukuro (Tokyo Prefecture)
  6. Musashi-Kosugi (Kanagawa Prefecture)
  7. Shinjuku (Tokyo Prefecture)
  8. Meguro (Tokyo Prefecture)
  9. Omiya (Saitama Prefecture)
  10. Urawa (Saitama Prefecture)

Top ten places I want to live (20s demographic):

  1. Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture)
  2. Ebisu (Tokyo Prefecture)
  3. Shinagawa (Tokyo Prefecture)
  4. Ikebukuro (Tokyo Prefecture)
  5. Musashi-Kosugi (Kanagawa Prefecture)
  6. Kichijoji (Tokyo Prefecture)
  7. Shinjuku (Tokyo Prefecture)
  8. Shibuya (Tokyo Prefecture)
  9. Omiya (Saitama Prefecture)
  10. Meguro (Tokyo Prefecture)

While Kichijoji ranked third for all surveyed ages combined, it only took the sixth spot for respondents in their 20s. Conversely, Yokohama, the capital of neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture and only a 30-minute train ride from Tokyo, was equally desirable for all age ranges. In fact, the more detailed results indicate that even people from outside of Kanagawa Prefecture would like to live in Yokohama–only 52.4 percent of those who billed it as their top choice were already residents of Kanagawa Prefecture, whereas 68.9 percent of those who selected Kichijoji were already residents of Tokyo. What can account for these trends besides the obvious steep price of rent for living in the capital city?

▼ Even if it’s expensive, Tokyo does have some of the best public cherry blossom-viewing spots at this time of the year.

Suumo Editor-in-Chief Yoichi Ikemoto recently shared some insight regarding why the younger generation is not completely sold on the idea of Kichijoji or even Tokyo as their ideal place to live, as well as the draws of other neighboring suburban centers. In particular, he cites two main factors: the availability of fun places to spend time and ongoing workplace reforms. 

The first reason is inextricably tied to most younger people’s natural desire for fun places to hang out after work and on their days off. It’s perhaps most succinctly illustrated in a common survey response along the lines of “There’s no movie theater in Kichijoji.” Ikemoto notes that while Kichijoji has long been prized for its fashionable boutiques and upscale dining, people in their 20s don’t necessarily have the disposable income yet to enjoy these perks as do the 30s and 40s crowd. Furthermore, Kichijoji is lacking a cinema complex, a variety of entertainment attractions, large public parks, and inexpensive family-style restaurants where it’s acceptable to linger for long stretches of time.

▼ A new shop opening in the stylish Kichijoji area of Tokyo

Contrast those details with Yokohama, which offers an abundance of inexpensive entertainment and dining options in the form of Minato Mirai 21, the city’s central business and commercial district which boasts the Landmark Plaza shopping complex and Cosmo World Amusement Park. Yokohama Chinatown, the seaside Yamashita and Rinko Parks, and many other attractions are also nearby and easily accessible. In other words, Yokohama has all of the perks that keep young people clamoring for more at a more realistic cost of living than many Tokyo neighborhoods.

▼ A view of Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama

The second reason why many people in their 20s prefer living outside of Tokyo rests with ongoing workplace reforms, for which many of the core suburban centers are leading the way. In light of the startling amount of overtime hours that many Tokyo firms expect from their employees, many companies are beginning to see the value in cutting working hours so that employees can actually go home at a decent time. It’s no wonder that a fresh-out-of-college employee would prefer this workplace model to that of the older generations.

On a final note, Ikemoto notes the role that sports and “civic pride” have perhaps played in raising the popularity of some current and up-and-coming suburban cities. For instance, the excitement in Yokohama was palpable last year when the Yokohama BayStars professional baseball team won the 2017 Central League Climax Series for the first time in 19 years. Similarly, the neighborhood of Urawa in Saitama Prefecture (which crept into tenth place in the overall living survey rankings this year) is home to the Urawa Reds of the J1 League. Sports serve as a unifying force for these areas, and make the people who live there proud to be residents of them.

▼ Professional soccer team Urawa Reds have helped contribute to Saitama Prefecture’s newfound “cool” factor.

Regardless of where you decide to live near Japan’s capital city, make sure to take a look at our list of the five worst areas to live in and around Tokyo–you might thank us later.

Source: Yahoo! Japan via Otakomu
Featured image: SoraNews24