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In these countries, if I decide on a whim that I would like a regular apartment for one month, what's the best method to find something CHEAP (less than 300USD) no matter where I am?

Craigslist or something similar? Or maybe finding a Couchsurfing host first and then asking them for word-of-mouth apartment connections?

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Have you tried ? It is possible to find some very good deals and have reviews of people that stayed in that place (just like or other sites).

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As for Tokyo area, check out
Depends on where you are planning to go, dormitory style may get you down around $500. If you are interested in another area, you might ask them for a referral. Possibly it could be less outside of major cities.

Also you can search on Google for "japan apartments "no key money"". In Japan, normal apartment renting for short term is not practical, because you have to pay traditional key money and various fees, in addition to rent.

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I have staid for in Seoul (ROK) a few months in 2009/20. The cheapest option was to take a roomlet in a 'gosiwon'. The room was 5 sqm, (2m wide, 2m long + a 2 * 0.5m bathroom). for ~400k Won a month

Rooms included TV, Broadband internet, a small fridge, a bed (60cm wide, 2m long), a few cupboards and shelves.

some info might be found here:

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The key word for medium-term rentals in Japan is "weekly mansion", search for that on Google and you'll find a whole bunch of sites offering them in English.

That said, your expectation is not very realistic, as less than US$300/Y30k a month in any of Japan's major cities will be virtually impossible. You'd generally be looking at Y50k and up for some tiny shoebox in an inconvenient location (and when I say tiny, I mean tiny, there are apartments in Japan under 10 sq.m.!), and even doubling that won't get you very far.

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