Want to Visit Japan for Cheap?

Nara House for Rent - Digital Nomad NetworkI have a house in Japan that is currently empty. I am still debating renting it out or possibly making it available for travelers and digital nomads. It would be a completely set up house, with high-speed internet, a proper kitchen, furniture and bedding, etc. for up to about 6 people comfortably. The rent would be relatively inexpensive as I am just looking to cover costs.

I would like to keep my house in Japan as a place to return every year, but I don’t want to pay for a full year to only stay there for two or three months. If I can rent it out for at least an additional 3 or 4 months per year, then I will re-furnish the house and get it ready for others to stay there.

Japan is actually not that expensive, particularly if you have reasonably priced accommodations and don’t live in a major center like Tokyo.

The Idea

In a previous post I mentioned the difficulties in getting set up in a new apartments in new countries. Dealing with shady real estate agents is a big pain and apartments are often dirty, poorly equipped and/or have lousy Internet connections. It can often take several days to find decent accommodations at a reasonable price. Even then, you will have to make some sacrifices to keep your costs down.

I am hoping to put together a small network of houses or apartments in different countries that are clean, fully set up, have good internet connections and a decent kitchen. Basically, on your very first day of arriving in a new country, you could go directly to the home you rented and be completely ready to work without stress and difficulties.

For those of us trying to work online, a network of comfortable accommodations would offer a much higher quality of travel and allow us to be up and running as soon as we arrive at a new destination.

Location #1 Nara, Japan

The house is in Nara-Prefecture about 40 minutes from Nara- City by Train. Kyoto is 1 hour away (with Bullet train access to Tokyo in 3 hours). Osaka is about 50 minutes away. Kobe is about 75 minutes away and the Kansai International Airport is about 85 minutes away by train and a comfortable limousine bus ride directly to the departure floor.

My house is in a small city, about 5 minutes away from a good grocery store with great fresh and inexpensive sushi. There is a convenience store about 1 minute away and the nearest train station is a 13 minute walk. There are beautiful temples and shrines nearby (Sakurai, Kashihara-jingu mae, Nara-city, etc.) and it is still in a densely populated city.

Sakurai, Nara, Japan

It is secluded enough to be able to work without distractions, but has easy access to all the major centers of central Japan.

I haven’t worked out the costs yet, but I expect it to be about $1500 per month with all utilities and bills included for the peak season in spring and fall and about $1200 per month in off seasons. Visits less than one month would be possible but not ideal because of extra costs involved with cleaning and administration. Longer stays could be cheaper.

Digital Nomad Network

Ultimately, I would like to schedule overlapping time to connect with other location independent professionals. We could meet to share ideas, work on projects together and generally connect in person. For me, one of the best things about traveling is meeting other travelers. I hope we can create a good core group of people that regularly meet around the world. A few people are already interested so I don’t think it will be so hard to put together. We just need to start committing to dates and locations.

Do you have a house to add to the network?

I hope to set up the next location in Budapest, in 2012. If anyone else has an apartment they could add, in a popular location around the world, please contact me. Again, the goal is not to make a lot of money, I just want to share quality accommodations with a small group of people that I know and trust.

If you are interested in renting my place in Japan please contact me before March. I am visiting Japan for a short time in March and will need to decide before then if I should re-furnish the house and reconnect the Internet and all utilities.

Please contact me or comment if any of this sounds interesting.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

19 Responses to Want to Visit Japan for Cheap?

  1. Colin Burns says:

    Hey John,

    We were thinking the same thing. We are in Oz at the moment (road tripping along the coast), but were thinking of setting up a place in Penang, Malaysia and doing basically the same thing you are suggesting. We would want to come back to Penang every year for a while (it might be as much as 4-6 months) but the rest of the time be travelling or even swapping apartments with someone in other places.

    Great idea, especially given the growing number of digital nomads these days.


    • John says:

      Awesome Colin,

      Let’s keep getting the word out and maybe we can build out a network of locations around the world. It would be great to have about 20 people in about 20 locations around the world all sharing flats. I haven’t been to Malaysia yet, but if you get an apartment, I would definitely commit to renting it for a month or two.

  2. Colin Burns says:

    It’s certainly a great lifestyle in Penang. Ohhhh the food and sooooooo cheap. I will certainly mention this to a number of people in my network as it certainly is a great idea…


  3. Mike says:

    Sounds like an interesting idea. I recently bought a small gueshouse on the north coast of Bali. We have a fairly decent wifi connection which is free for guests. I traveled around Asia for a couple of years, working on the internet before buying this place, so I know how important a decent wifi connection is. While our rooms are fairly basic, I would be open to people using our kitchen if they want to cook as I know that eating out all of the time is expensive and you get sick of it after a while. While it’s not like your apartment, I would like to join the network if you can get it going.

  4. Steven says:

    Great idea Mike, I can’t add a property yet but I’m open to the rental arrangement.

  5. Jannell says:

    Excellent idea! I like the ‘network’ concept and think you’ll be able to pull it off. I don’t have a place to offer at the moment, but will be interested to see how your plans go.

  6. Hi John,

    I’ve been lurking on your site for over a year now. Working on designing my lifestyle and using your site as a reference.

    We have been considering keeping our apartment and renting it out while we travel. I am an American, however we are currently based in Dakar, Senegal. But sadly, I have to say the connectivity is not the best as we often have blackouts. When we have electricity there is no problem with connectivity, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who depends on being connected for work. Although, my husband and I both are web developers and work remotely, I believe we have just learned to adapt to the outages. We haven’t experienced any real issues in terms of work though.

    Having said all of that, I would like to say that we are interested in your apartment later in the year. We have been talking about doing a month in Japan, but with such a great place, why not do 3 months?

    I will continue watching your blog for updates, but please feel free to reach out to me via email.

    Love this idea! Thanks for continuing to share your experiences. It’s both inspiring and encouraging.

    • John says:

      Thanks for your interest in this house sharing network. Japan is a fantastic country, three months is probably not enough. Hopefully, you can time your visit to go to some of the great festivals in the area.

  7. its really good, well furnished at reasonable cost

  8. Phil says:

    Sounds great John. W might want to add our house in Kyoto to this scheme. And maybe our place in Spain too! I’m having to spend time in Frankfurt and Los Angeles for work, so they are becoming increasingly empty!
    If you decide to set up a formal network let me know.

  9. Hi John,

    I think this is an awesome idea. I’ve been living in Aonang, Thailand (in Krabi) for just over two years. I’ll be traveling about 4-6 months each year and don’t necessarily want to pack away everything each time I go. However, it would be great to have some sort of swap situation. I’ll be interested in learning more once you have pulled this all together! Thanks :0)

    • John says:

      Hi Brooke,

      Thanks for the comment. It seems to be a popular idea. The difficulty is getting a critical mass of people willing to commit. I don’t want to open this up to everyone, because then it will just be another house swap type of service. At the same, we need lots of participants to keep a variety of locations. Any ideas?

  10. Akila says:

    John, This is a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, we don’t have a house right now but we were actually considering purchasing a house in the next year in a somewhat exotic location and using it as rental property. I’ll keep in touch in case we do.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Excellent idea John.

    Do keep me on the list of interested people, my place in Sicily will be finished this summer and while many guests there will be creatives for residencies, I’d be happy to share/swap/rent to digital nomads too. (wifi will be installed too, they’ve just gotten good connections in the past year)


    • John says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Long time no talk. I am glad to hear about the progress on your studio in Sicily. I think the network is still a great idea, we just need the right group of people to make it happen.

  12. Frank says:

    Hi John.
    Am interested in principle. As the network grows, I think that regional networks would be even better, for say larger families, etc. For example, people in neighboring countries could swap by just traveling by bus or car, that way the airfare could be much lower.
    Just a thought, I know we’re not there yet as a group.

    Thanks for your ideas

    • John says:

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for the comment Frank. We are definitely not there yet. Many people are interested, but few are willing to make any commitments and most long-term travelers, myself included, have given up their homes.

      I had no takers for my house, so we ended up selling it. I would still love to create some type of network. Perhaps the focus should just be on rating guest houses and apartments around the world?

      It takes a lot of time to research and evaluate new places to stay, so some type of closed network with reviews of peers would be very helpful.

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