Friday, 20 June 2008

So we’ve gone and bought an apartment

Once I got my new job at the international school the guru and I sat down and wondered just what in the hell it all meant. The most important thing was that it meant I wasn’t working for the English school anymore, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, doing my head in. But it also meant that we had to reappraise our plans, such as they were, regarding staying or going.

The kind of tentative plan was that we would stay in Japan whilst the youngster was young, probably up to the end of elementary school or Year 6, so about 10 years old, and then head back to Blighty as that way he’d get the benefit of both a Japanese and a British upbringing (and the concomitant language benefits contained therein). But then I got this job at the international school and so now he’ll get a British education but in a Japanese environment, perhaps the best of both worlds (or maybe going to a Japanese school whilst living in the UK would be better, who knows), and, not wanting to blow the school’s trumpet too long or hard, the education he’ll get here will be every bit as good, if not better, than an education he’d get at a state school in the UK (except we don’t have enough space, especially playground and playing fields, but we are an inner city school so you can’t have everything).

So anyway, he’s 3 now and he’ll be able to stay at the international school here until he’s 16 at least (assuming I stay here as well, or else I find another job where I can blag 10 grand’s worth of school fees along with a better salary, which, let’s face it, is unlikely) – by the way I didn’t try to get the job here for this reason, but I must say it’s panned out remarkably well. So that meant that the guru and I took a short, direct think about what was in the offing and decided it was probably a good idea to buy somewhere to live and get out of the rental sector, so we have.

Well, I say we have but what we have actually bought, right now, is a big hole in the ground with a few foundations that will, by March next year, have grown into a 50 apartment mansion block. The good news is that it is new, it shouldn’t fall down in an earthquake, it’s in Tokyo, near where we live now, near the river and a nice park (with a windmill, no less), we can choose options we want, it’s bigger than the place we have now, it’s close to a railway station that’s only 25 minutes to Shibuya so not a bad commute and, probably the most important one, we can afford it. The bad news is that it is quite close to a railway line (the very one the youngster and I will get on to go to school), the mortgage is for 35 years so I will probably be paying this off into my retirement, the land is designated as residential/light industrial so there are a few not so nice bits around the area (zoning laws are great in Japan) and the station area isn’t nearly as well developed as Kawaguchi (so no big library, no city hall, only 1 supermarket, no sports centre etc).

The town itself is a bit like Kawaguchi in that it is going through a strong phase of redevelopment, with lost of apartment blocks being built on the sites of old factories and warehouses. With this, usually, come more amenities like supermarkets and the like as there are more people to use them – this might be wishful thinking on my part, but we have watched Kawaguchi change mightily over the last 6 years so I have high hopes for the new area.

Of course it might still all fall through as we haven’t really got full backing from the bank yet for the mortgage. What we have is a positive pre-judgement for a loan for an apartment in a place called Mizonokuchi, where we nearly bought a place but backed out of at the last minute (I will write the story of that one sometime), the new place is slightly more expensive so we need to go back to the bank to get a new pre-approval. Once we’ve got that the bank then takes its time to decide whether it wants to give us the full approval or not, and actually hand over the cash. If it does, all well and good, if it doesn’t we get our deposit back but have to pay for the apartment options we chose – not so well and good. Bit of a long, drawn out process this, but there you go.

So, we’re up and running, roll on March 2009…

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