Translated by Sandy Lau
Upfront Costs Of Apartments In Japan - Complete Guide To Renting And Moving
Written by chacha
The first step to settling in Japan is moving into a comfortable home, no matter how long you plan to stay. This article introduces the tips for apartment renting in Japan and Tokyo, upfront costs, and Japanese terms you should know. Find the apartment and living situation that meets your needs.
Renting an Apartment in Japan - Average Monthly Costs, Moving Fees, and Tips
Similar to how well-rooted plants grow successfully, it's vital for all to find a home that is comfortable in order to feel settled and secure in Japan.
This article provides tips on how to rent an apartment in Japan, whether you are planning on moving to the country or already have experience moving in the country. We also explain the rules to renting and real estate terms you should know, and include suggested rental listing sites with international resident-friendly options.
Table of Contents
- 1. Average Apartment Rents and Upfront Costs in Japan
- 2. The Apartment Application Process in Japan
- 3. Real Estate Firms and Top Rental Listing Sites
Apartment Rent in Japan and Tokyo
Rent in Japan is determined by the location and distance to a train station. For Tokyo, an average one-room studio along the Yamanote Line is around 80,000 yen/month due to its convenient transportation route. On the contrary, the monthly rent for a one-room studio in the suburbs is around 60,000 yen.
Most apartments in Japan will not come pre-furnished with appliances or furniture. The pre-furnished properties are higher priced in rent. If you're staying long-term with a small budget, it'd be best to find a vacant room and purchase furniture yourself.
Are you planning to stay for around a year? Try asking about furnished rooms at real estate firms that manage share houses and other properties. See the article below for some recommendations on options like these.
How Much Are Upfront Costs When Moving?
While the initial cost of your apartment will depend on the area, it typically takes four to six months’ worth of rent for your security deposit, key money, and real estate brokerage fees as upfront costs. For example, if your rent is 70,000 yen, then upfront costs will range from 280,000 yen to 420,000 yen.
What are security deposit, key money, and real estate brokerage fees like in Japan? These terms will be explained in detail in the next section.
Monthly Rent (家賃, yachin)
Your rent is the cost of your apartment, but will also sometimes include monthly management fees and maintenance fees.
Key Money (礼金, reikin)
Key money was introduced after the end of World War II. The concept of paying money as gratitude to the landlord for leasing an apartment begun during this period due to housing shortages.
Key money is typically one to two months' worth of rent. It is separate from your security deposit and is non-refundable.
Some properties don't require key money. Some landlords won't ask for key money once the peak moving season (February to April) has passed to rent out leftover properties.
Security Deposit (敷金, shiki-kin)
A security deposit is one to two months' worth of rent in Japan. This money is entrusted to the landlord to pay for cleaning and repairs to the room. The deposit is partially returned after deducting cleaning expenses when the tenant moves out.
Real Estate Brokerage Fees (仲介手数料, chukai tesuryo)
One months' worth of rent is paid in brokerage fees when hiring a real estate firm to contract an apartment.
Guarantor Fees (保証人費用, hoshonin hiyo)
If you are a non-Japanese resident renting an apartment in Japan, you will need to find a Japanese resident to act as a guarantor. If you have no acquaintances in Japan, then you will have to use a guarantor company.
Guarantor company fees are around 50% to 120% of your rent. Tenants can select a guarantor company. However, they must pass the guarantor company's audit when signing a contract.
Fire Insurance (火災保険, kasai hoken)
When renting an apartment in Japan, you must purchase fire insurance to cover any fire or water damages to the room. It costs around 20,000 yen for two years. The fee is repaid when you renew your apartment lease.
Key Exchange Fee (鍵交換費用, kagi kokan hiyo)
For security reasons, the room key is exchanged for new keys and is paid by the tenant. The fee is around 10,000 to 20,000 yen.
Contract Renewal Fees (更新料, koshin ryo)
If you signed a two-year lease and wish to continue the rental, you will be required to pay a renewal fee. It's roughly a months' worth of rent. It varies based on the area and type of apartment.
The Apartment Application Process
Once you've decided on what apartment to rent, you will submit a tenant application to a real estate firm. You will then provide documents with proof of your bank account in Japan along with your Japanese phone number. An identification card, such as your residence card, is also required.
As all these documents are required for most apartments, if you've just moved to Japan, be sure to open a bank account at a bank or the post office, and then get a phone number straight away. Only then should you apply for a lease.
After submission, you will be audited by the landlord who owns the apartment. If your application is approved, you will proceed to the move-in process. Arrangements may also be made to meet the landlord by phone or in-person.
What Types of Apartments Are There in Japan?
The types of rentals options in Japan are as listed below:
Apartment (アパート, apaato): a wooden property that is two-stories tall or less. There is no apartment manager or community amenities. Sound insulation, earthquake-resistance, and security aren't as great as apartment complexes. Rent is relatively cheap, making these types of rentals suitable for people with a small budget.
Mansion (マンション, manshon): an apartment complex over three-stories tall and constructed from reinforced concrete. It may have an apartment manager. There is better security, and the rent is more expensive than regular apartments.
Rental Home (貸家, kashiya): a single-family home for rent.
Terms like "2LDK" or "3DK" will often pop up when looking up information on rentals. What exactly do these letters mean?
L: Abbreviation for living room.
D: Abbreviation for dining room.
K: Abbreviation for kitchen.
Numbers represent the number of bedrooms. A 2LDK will have a living room, dining room, kitchen, and two bedrooms. A 3DK will have a dining room, kitchen, and three bedrooms.
Corner Units, Facing Direction, and Size
There are several points you should consider when choosing an apartment.
The first are corner units. This is a room at the corner of the apartment complex or building. No one will live on either side of your apartment, so you won't have to worry about noises from your neighbors. The rent is slightly more expensive, but it is an option for those who prefer a higher quieter, more private lifestyle.
South-facing apartments are the most sought after in Japan. These apartments can end up being over 2,000 yen more expensive in rent, even on the ground floor, compared to east, west, or north-facing apartments. The reason is that these rooms get a lot of direct sunlight. During the day, you won't need to turn the lights on. It also makes it easy to dry your laundry outside, which is great for long-term residents.
Additionally, apartment size is measured by the number of tatami mats (“jo” in Japanese), not square meters. Six tatami mats, for example, is equivalent to ten square meters (107 square feet).
Should You Hire a Real Estate Firm?
When foreign residents rent an apartment, the landlord will often check their Japanese language skills. Be aware that some landlords will avoid leasing properties to non-Japanese speakers to avoid having issues in the future.
The best strategy to avoid this is to first decide the area you want to live in. Then, request a real estate firm in your area to introduce foreigner-friendly apartments. The rental listing sites below also have many options that accommodate international residents in Japan.
Top Rental Listing Sites in Japan
Below is a list of suggested rental listing sites in Japan.
|OYO LIFE||Rent an apartment for as short as a month. Deposit and key money is not required.||Sign your contract online and from overseas.|
|OAKHOUSE||Company-managed share houses and apartments.||English support available. Holds events.|
|SOCIAL APARTMENT||Socialize with tenants while maintaining your personal space.||Trendy designs and multiple communal spaces.|
|Youzi Liuxue (Japanese)||For international students. Easy rental for non-Japanese residents.||Search near your school. Discounts available for international students.|
|SUUMO (Japanese)||Many options for properties that are frequently updated.||Search for specific requirements.|
|MUJI×UR (Japanese)||Security deposit and key money not required.||Renovated properties that are well-designed.|
For further information on rental listing websites and services in Japan, see the article below.
Find an Apartment in Japan!
Most leases in Japan are two-year contracts with the main upfront costs being your security deposit, key money, and furniture. Are you visiting Japan on a working holiday visa or for a short-term stay? If so, we recommend staying at a share house or short-term apartment (see OAKHOUSE or OYO LIFE above).
Recently, more and more real estate agencies are managing foreigner-friendly properties. Refer to the sites and information above to find an apartment that meets both your needs and budget!
All photos by Pixta