Sam Growdon shares her thoughts on moving from New York to Tokyo
When Sam Growdon was planning to relocate with her family from New York City to Tokyo in late January 2020, the first thing she did was to go online and begin searching for the right property.
She found three buildings suitable for a family of four: her husband, their 12- and 9-year-old, and herself. But in the end, they chose Azabu Gardens, in part because of its human scale, and that it seemed to be connected to the neighborhood. “I found it online, and this was before I came to Japan. I liked that it was a low-rise. It felt like it was in a neighborhood, as opposed to being in one of the major cities.”
Sam was also impressed by the building’s embrace of greenery, a striking feature of Azabu Gardens, even when viewed at first from thousands of miles away via the internet. “The greenery, for me, was the first attraction. I liked [the fact that] the outside of the building had these potted plants all over, and it seemed very contemporary.”
When Sam and her family settled into their new home, it wasn’t long before they hit the ground running, even at a time when social distancing rules and coronavirus countermeasures were in place.
“In some ways, this was a sanctuary for us because we had a bit more space [than in our previous apartment]. Actually, apartment sizes are good here. They’re pretty big, you get a four-to-five-bedroom place. And all my friends who live in other buildings say, “Yes, [yours] is the best building in the area.”
Sam says her husband used the in-building gym every morning without encountering any issues. Her kids also took advantage of the media center, which can host about 15 people, to watch shows on Netflix.
But the game-changer for her family was the rooftop, especially in those early days when they were still adapting to life in Tokyo: “The rooftop is the biggest draw of this building. It’s big. You can use it for kids’ parties. It’s great.”
Another draw for Sam and her family has been the neighborhood itself, that is, Moto-Azabu, Azabu-Juban, Hiroo, Roppongi Hills, and so on, and the close proximity of a myriad of services on offer. As she explains, “It’s super convenient. You’re five minutes from Roppongi, five minutes from Azabu-Juban, which is another reason that we chose to live here.”
Sam says, “I love that main street in Azabu-Juban. It feels local, but you’re living in an expat area.”
While there are high-end bakeries and fancy restaurants in the neighborhood, there is also “a great Tsutaya-Starbucks, where you always bump into people you know.”
And that’s not to mention OneWORLD International, her favorite local hair salon, which has English speaking staff; Arisugawa Park, where her children played soccer; and a local supermarket.
The next destination for Sam and her family will be Hong Kong. But having lived in Tokyo, and in particular Azabu Gardens, for over two years, would she recommend it? “Of course, I already have. Easily,” she says without hesitation.
“I think there are around six buildings in Tokyo to live in for families with kids the same age as mine, and who are going to the same kinds of schools.” In her case, the children attended the American School in Japan. “Because you want those kids who are getting off the bus together to create this kind of community and I think there is a great community here.”