Housing Construction in Iwakuni Japan
All of the houses in Iwakuni are made out of concrete and most are multiplexes, so be ready for that. Even the floors are made from concrete so bring your own rugs and carpet padding with you. It will be hard to find anything to put down, so plan on bringing things from the states on your move over.
There are several typhoons that hit around the area and the buildings need to be able to withstand those. Make it an adventure, have your kids ready and join your neighbors or family in some catch up time, playing games, or hanging out. It is extremely humid and mold is a huge problem. Leave anything expensive or your family treasures behind if mold can damage it. Leather, fabrics, anything in the right condition in humidity can and will mold.
You do receive COLA in Iwakuni, which stands for Cost of Living. They give you a stipend depending on your rank and dependents because the cost of living is so much higher than in the states. You’ll receive this in your paycheck and can range from $500-$900, this is given out on a monthly basis and fluctuates with the yen to dollar exchange. Click on the link, Japan Iwakuni and enter your member information to find out what you rate.
Military Housing on Iwakuni Japan Marine Corps Base
Base Housing: It is great for those who are interested in getting to know your neighbors and developing a tight-knit community around you. Everyone helps everyone out in Iwakuni. It’s pretty small there so you have a neat opportunity to develop close bonds with those around you.
If you have children, you will definitely want to consider living on base. All of the schools are on base and you are very close to playgrounds and community activities. Living on base all of your water and electric expenses are paid for which are extremely expensive. Some of the housing areas aren’t as large out in town, but the community and amenities offered on base easily negate that. Lastly, if you live on base, you will have access to approximately 40 American TV channels (AFN).
If you are moving with a pet, you may want to consider living on base because only Townhouses on base accept pets. Moving with a pet off base is extremely expensive and there are many fees involved. It can add up to be quite a bit of money.
Housing Rentals Off Base in Iwakuni Japan
Should I rent housing at Iwakuni Marine Corps Base? There is some housing on the beach and you can try to find one with an ocean view. The community will most likely not be there as some of your neighbors may not be military. It is very safe off base; you won’t need to worry there. The government will give you a housing allowance based off your rank and dependants just like in the states (OHA – Overseas Housing Allowance). Where it differs is that you will check in with a realty agency and they will give you a choice of homes that you “qualify” for off base. They will offer you the homes, you pick one, they keep your OHA regardless if you spend it all or not. They do try to offer a variety of charges into your rent, like extra heaters or A/C units, satellite, cleaning out fees, etc to help make up for any additional room in your allowance. Very few people can opt to live out in time due to a switch in Marine Corps policies.
There tends to be more room off base, but the out of pocket utility costs are so high ($200+), many move back on base after some time. If you are moving with a pet, make sure you read about pets below. You will have limited American television out in town. Also, you will have japanese appliances out in town, which means they will be in Japanese. Many will be different in each unit, so you will have to figure out how to use all of those. Most japanese homes don’t have dishwashers or garbage disposal. Housing will also give you an electric transformer, but some American appliances may not work as well. Some opt to buy Japanese appliances once they get here.
One last tip, when you check in with the agency, withhold your spouse’s rank and number of dependents Only tell them what type of home you are looking for. So many people have relayed that they raise the prices of homes (whether the rent should be that or not) to the maximum price the government gives you. Others have not provided information and received cheaper housing, saving themselves and the government money.
Here’s a great inbound checklist before you arrive in Iwakuni.