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Apartment Hunting In Japan: Top 7 Foreigner-Friendly Rental Listing Sites And Tips

Apartment Hunting In Japan: Top 7 Foreigner-Friendly Rental Listing Sites And Tips

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by miho

2020.08.06 Bookmark

Searching for an apartment in Japan? We cover how and where to search for apartments, room shares, and housing friendly to all foreign residents! Find places with short-term monthly rent options, pre-furnished rooms, rentals without security deposits--lead your lifestyle in Japan comfortably.

How to Find an Apartment in Japan - Recommended Rental Sites and Advice

When the writer left her hometown in Taiwan and decided to live in Japan, she first encountered difficulty finding a residence in Japan.

Through the experience of renting overseas, this article will introduce her top rental listing websites that are friendly to international residents in Japan. By referring to this list, you can find an apartment that meets your needs. Below are some tips on getting started in apartment hunting here.

Basics of Apartment Hunting in Japan

There are two methods when looking for an apartment in Japan. The first is visiting a real estate company and having them find a property that meets your requirements. The second is searching for a property on your own online.

Regardless of your preferred method, you will likely have to pay a security deposit or key money, then co-sign your contract with a guarantor after deciding on a listing. A tenant screening will likely also take place before signing the contract. The table below has a list of terms used when apartment hunting and signing contracts in Japan.

Real Estate Terms in Japan
Apartment (アパート, apaato) A small two to three stories tall apartment building constructed from lumber or light-gauge steel.
Mansion (マンション, manshon) A large-scale apartment complex over three stories tall and constructed from reinforced concrete.
Security Deposit (敷金, shiki kin) Money entrusted to the real estate firm or landlord to cover any damages to the room by the tenant. Typically one to two months' rent. This deposit may be returned (depending on conditions of the apartment) when the tenant moves out.
Key Money (礼金, rei kin) Non-refundable. Money paid to the landlord as gratitude for leasing the room to you. Typically a months’ rent.
Real Estate Brokerage Fees (仲介手数料, chukai tesuryo) Commission paid to the real estate firm. Typically one to two months’ rent.
Guarantor (保証人, hosho nin) This person is responsible for paying rent if the tenant cannot pay on time. You may be able to co-sign with a guarantor company instead. Not always required when signing leases.
Real Estate Agent (不動産会社, fudosan gaisha) The company that manages and leases properties.
Landlord (大家さん, ooya san) The person that owns the property, often separate from the real estate agent.

Looking at this table, you’ll see that moving into an apartment results in paying an additional three to five months’ worth of rent towards your security deposit, key money, and commission fees.

Interested in keeping your expenses low or want to compare different rooms online? We recommend checking out the rental listing sites, which offer foreigner-friendly spaces that can help make your lifestyle in Japan all the better.

7 Top Rental Listing Sites in Japan - Share Houses, Private Apartments, and Foreigner-friendly Options

Find An Apartment In Japan! What To Know And 6 Top Rental Listing Sites

Photo by Pixta
Below is a brief compilation of six rental sites and their features. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at each of these websites.

Website Merits Other Features
BEST-ESTATE.JP Exclusively for foreign residents. Support in seven languages free of charge Consultations, viewings, and contract procedures can be made online. Rentals from abroad also possible.
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 overseas students. Easy renting for non-Japanese residents. Search near your school. Available discounts for overseas students.
SUUMO (Japanese) Many options for properties, frequently updated. Search for specific requirements.
MUJI×UR (Japanese) Security deposit and key money not required Renovated properties that are well-designed

1. BEST-ESTATE.JP: Free Multilingual Support and Online Contracts!

BEST-ESTATE.JP is a rental service that caters to the needs of foreign residents in Japan exclusively. It is operated by GTN (Global Trust Networks), which also offers mobile Wi-Fi services and SIM cards for foreign residents.

The main characteristic of BEST-ESTATE.JP is that they offer support in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Nepali free of charge.

Book a zoom meeting and an operator will search for a property based on your preferences. Property viewings and contract procedures can be performed online!

In other words, you can look for a room while being abroad, and start living there as soon as you arrive in Japan!

Search for Apartments on BEST-ESTATE.JP

2. OYO LIFE: Rent by Month and Sign Contracts Online

OYO LIFE

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

OYO LIFE is a housing service jointly headed by OYO—an India-based hotel group—and Yahoo! JAPAN.

OYO LIFE allows anyone to apply and sign a property contract online, including from a smartphone. You can move into your new apartment the day after signing the contract. No security deposit, key money, or commission fees are required. The rooms come ready with furniture, appliances, and an Internet connection. It's also possible to lease an apartment with OYO LIFE for as short as one month, making it ideal for short-term stays.

If you're overseas, all you need is your passport to apply for a room. After applying, you can get your key the day you arrive in Japan!

OYO LIFE Rent Books

Pictures courtesy of PR TIMES

OYO LIFE has rental properties in Tokyo and Yokohama as well as the surrounding suburbs in the Shonan and Takao areas. The rent ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 yen per month. Are you an adventurer who wants to experience life on the move? This option may be great for you.

Search for Apartments on OYO LIFE

3. OAKHOUSE: Socialize at a Share House With Tenants From All Over the World

OAKHOUSE

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

OAKHOUSE mainly offers share houses and apartments. Their official website is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, French, and Korean, and about 40% of their residents are from overseas. Since OAKHOUSE directly manages the apartments, you'll get an immediate response if there are any issues with your room.

Their share house properties are clean spaces with a communal living area, large kitchen, showers, and bathrooms. Recently, they've added several new rooms with bicycle and gardening themes.

Choose an apartment that suits your own interests. This way your room won’t simply be a resting space; it’ll act as an entertainment and healing oasis.

OAKHOUSE

Nationalities: 65% Japanese, 9.4% American, 9.4% Taiwanese, 6.3% French, 3.1% German, Australian, South Korean. Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

On the official website, data on gender ratio, age groups, and nationality of residents in the same house are made public, and events are occasionally held to promote socializing between tenants. Share houses are perfect for people who are looking to make more connections in Japan and around the world.

Search for Apartments on OAKHOUSE

4. SOCIAL APARTMENT: Make Friends and Keep Your Personal Space

Social Apartment Shared Balcony

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

The apartments that SOCIAL APARTMENT offer are great for people who want to socialize but also maintain their own space in beautifully-designed living quarters. Every tenant has their own private space at SOCIAL APARTMENT. Residents, however, are free to socialize with one another in communal areas, including a coffee bar, billiard room, library, and movie theater.

All the rooms and properties are very stylish and comfortably furnished, and some may make you feel like you're living on the set of a Japanese drama series with their trendy interior.

Social Apartment Ebisu

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

Properties are located near major train stations in the Tokyo and Kansai area. In Tokyo, there are also properties available in areas popular with younger people, like Kichijoji, Ogikubo, and Kiyosumi-Shirakawa.

SOCIAL APARTMENT’s Official Website: https://www.social-apartment.com/eng/

5. Youzi Liuxue: Rooms in Japan For All Overseas Students

Housing Agency

Photo by Pixta

Youzi Liuxue’s (Japanese) official website is available in Japanese, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese. The majority of properties are leased to Chinese students, which ensures you won't be turned away by a landlord for being non-Japanese. Nearly all of the listings on their website are available for private viewings or contract.

On the website, you can narrow down your search by neighborhoods and listings in close proximity to your school or university. Perfect for overseas students who are apartment hunting, it will display all nearby properties after searching for by school name.

Many rooms listed are either single or shared rooms, with some properties under 60,000 yen per month. This is ideal for those looking to save money or who don't feel confident in their Japanese language skills. They frequently have rental discounts available for international students, too.

Youzi Liuxue’s Official Website: https://www.youziliuxue.com/zufang/ja/index.php (Japanese)

6. SUUMO: Plenty of Properties With Detailed Search Options!

SUUMO

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

SUUMO is Japan's largest rental listing website, containing thousands of listings. It available only in Japanese, though, but detailed information on properties, including the number of floors, the construction year, and apartment layouts, are posted on the site.

You can search for properties located across the country with detailed requirements like the maximum rent you can pay, size of the apartment, type of flooring (tatami or not), whether or not a guarantor is needed, 24-hour trash services, and more.

If you find a property that piques your interest, you can contact the person in charge to view the room via the website or phone number on the listing.

SUUMO’s Official Website: https://suumo.jp (Japanese)

7. MUJI x UR: Renovated Housing Designed with MUJI

MUJI×UR Renovations Concentrated in Residential Areas

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

Urban Renaissance Agency (UR) leases rental properties to approximately 720,000 households in Japan. Those renting with UR security do not have to pay deposits and commission fees, and there is no need for a guarantor.

UR's properties are mainly quiet housing complexes in the suburbs and high-rise condominiums near train stations. However, the application requirements and screening process may be stricter than the previous companies introduced. Those with a mid-to-long-term residency or permanent residency in Japan who meet the monthly salary level can apply.

MUJI×UR

Picture courtesy of PR TIMES

They have various properties available, but we recommend the apartments created in collaboration with MUJI. These old housing complexes, constructed during the Showa Era, are newly decorated with interior items from MUJI and renovated into a clean, bright space.

MUJI x UR’s Official Website: https://www.muji.net/ie/mujiur/ (Japanese)

Find the Apartment of your Dreams in Japan

In addition to checking out the featured websites, try to get advice from experienced tenants to find the apartment that fits you! Please stay tuned for more articles on finding housing in Japan and what to expect when renting or owning property as an international resident.

Main image by Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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