April 25, 2013

Best Locations to Live in Okinawa

Where Are the Best Places to Live in Okinawa?

With all the American military bases around Okinawa, there is a continues flow of people moving to Okinawa. So where are the best places to live if you are moving to Okinawa?

Most people move to Okinawa because of the Military, either they are stationed there, or working as a civilian for the military. Some people also move to Okinawa for a variety of other jobs, like teaching English. No matter what the reason for the move, this guide should give you a better understanding of where to live in Okinawa.

where to live in okinawa
Okinawa Houses By Ricymar Photography

Factors that Go into Choosing a Location

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing where to live in Okinawa. So let's take a look at them to help break things down.

First of all, for the majority of people moving to Okinawa, renting is the best option. Buying a house in Okinawa is a challenging process, with a lot of Japanese laws that can be confusing to foreigners. However, for those planning on staying on Okinawa for an extended time, buying, or even building a house, can be done.

The next important factor is, what do you want to be close to? Okinawa offers a lot of diversity.. There are houses for rent with busy shops in easy walking distance, or quite places on a hillside. You can live next to a seawall, or near a beach. You can choose to live next to a base, or far from them if you desire. So it is important to know what you like. If you want to live close to shops and popular areas, you may have to sacrifice space and money. Living further out in more rural areas will give you more for your money, with a larger house.

Another important consideration for those moving to Okinawa because of the military, is whether to live on base or off. It really comes down to personal preference, and what you feel comfortable with. Living on base is easy, but can be somewhat boring if you don't get out and enjoy the island. Living off base has its challenges too, but one major benefit is during a typhoon, everyone on base must stay inside, while off base the Japanese tend to go shopping.

Of course, different people there are other factors that may be important, so perhaps make a list of important factors for where to live in Okinawa, and use that to help guide your decision.

Now let's look st some of the places to live in Okinawa

Where to Live in Okinawa

We begin by examine some of the more popular areas where American's and other foreigners tend to live. Then we will look at other possibilities.

Sunabe, Chatan, Mihama Area
where to live in okinawa mihama area
View of Chatan/Mihama area with Jusco in background
Located very close to Kadena AFB and Camp Foster, this area is popular among the American Military. It has both seawall, and some beaches scattered in between. This area also has a lot of popular shopping places, with many small shops as well as a large Jusco.

Rent in this area tends to be higher than most places around Okinawa(except Naha) because it caters to the American Military. Houses can be found in a variety of sizes, although they tend to be smaller in this area, but with American features. This location is nice for those who want to be close to Kadena or Foster, and enjoy the snorkeling and water activities at Sunabe seawall and the shopping in Mihama.

Yomitan Area
Located north of Kadana AFB, on the west side of the island, north of Sunaba and Mihama area, near Torii Staton, this area is becoming more and more popular. While it is a little further away from the military bases, it offers quieter neighborhoods, great beaches and more authentic feel to living in Okinawa compared to the often Americanized houses around Sunabe seawall.

While rent is typically lower in this area, it depends on the size of the house or apartment, and what kind of features it offers. Many people like living in Yomitan area because it is more quite and secluded compared to other locations.

Kitanakagusuku, Okinawa City Area
Located on the East side of Okinawa, out Kadena Gate 2 and 5, this area is close to Kadena and Foster, while not being overly Americanized. The beaches in this area are not quite as good as on the west side of the island, but one great feature of this area is the Comprehensive Park, which is a huge park located next to the ocean. It has plenty to offer for kids, and adults with playgrounds  walking paths, sports facilities, ponds, and so much more.

Houses and prices vary, but you can typically get more for your money in this area, although it is less setup for Americans. With relatively easy access to the Okinawa expressway, traveling to Naha or Nago from the Kitanakagusuku/Kadena Gate 2 area is very quick.

Other Areas Worth Considering
There are several more areas worth considering, including Uruma, Onna, Nakagusuku, and Urosoe. These locations are somewhat further from central Okianwa, with Urosoe and Nakagusuku located between Naha and Okinawa City, and Onna and Uruma located north of Kadena AFB, near Yomitan. They each have benefits and drawbacks, but may be worth investigating if other locations don't meet your needs.

In the end, Okinawa is a beautiful island, and small enough to drive anywhere you want to enjoy it. No matter where you live, there are things to discover in that area and activities to do. There isn't any one 'best' location because it depends on what you are looking for, and what you like to do.

If you need some ideas for activities, check out our Top 10 Things to do In Okinawa, or 7 More Things to do in Okinawa

Be sure to leave a comment with any questions that we can help answer!

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