From Egypt🇪🇬 to Tokyo🗼
Tell us about yourself
My name is Mohamed Aly and I work for Rakuten Mobile Japan. I’m originally from Egypt and relocated to Japan in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. I have a wife and three kids.
What was challenging about finding an apartment in Tokyo?
I've lived in many countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, but moving to Japan was different. Firstly, Japan has a very unique culture - it has its own way of doing things. Secondly, the language is a real barrier for expats who are trying to find accommodation, as most Japanese people only speak Japanese. I think it’s wonderful that the people have a lot of respect for their own culture and language.
How did you find AtHearth and why did you choose us?
There are some Facebook groups for expats, and I posted that I was searching for an apartment in one of those groups. At that time I was living in a monthly rental but it was too small and very expensive. I was trying to find a suitable place for our family but we didn't know much about Tokyo.
How was the service? What was good and what was left to be desired?
I was very lucky to have met AtHearth and Nozomi. They helped me overcome many issues in the process and made things much easier. When I started the search, I found that communication with the owner or the management company was not smooth enough and needed some help. Nozomi supported me in finding a suitable apartment with the right price and size. I believe it was the right place suitable for my kids, close to the metro station, not so far from my company, and also near a supermarket which makes it very convenient. Communication with the utility companies and the internet company was also difficult for me, but Nozomi took care of everything. I didn't need to raise a finger.
After we settled in, we selected a school for our son, found a clinic for him, and chose a kindergarten for our daughter. Many living arrangements were finalized in a blink of an eye.
To Be Desired
In fact, I faced no issue with AtHearth but I think if you streamlined more services online, I think people will like it. For some of the harder-to-describe details, if you provide an interface with filters and options, customers could easily find what they want.
(*When we first launched our service, we showcased property options through PDF files. Since then we have launched a personalized user interface for customers to browse rental options→ click here to see more details)
Secondly, maybe focusing on the furnished, mid-term rentals would also be a good idea. When you first come to Japan, there are many decisions that need to be made, so it would be nice to have a furnished mid-term contract first and then try to find a permanent apartment. Tokyo is a big city, and it takes some time learning and exploring before making a final decision!