Renting a House In Japan, What to look for and expect!
Renting a house in Japan
First of All-- Congrats! You are in Japan, and you plan on staying here for some time. So what do you need to do now? Renting a house in Japan of course! This can be incredibly exciting or extremely daunting depending on your point of view on home searching. You aren’t alone though, I’ve been there and done that. So here is a guide to help you get through this exciting new process. In case you are still looking for a job, make sure to check out our article on getting a job in Japan, click on the link below.
What You Should Have Before You Even Look
Money. Like a ridiculous amount of money.
Let me explain why before your jaw hits the floor okay? Renting a house in Japan, the average 1DK apartment can cost about 80,000-100,000 Yen (800-100 USD). It seems ridiculous but it gets worse, trust me.
Let’s break it down to explain it further for you. Let’s say you found the perfect place you want to move into, and it’s reasonably priced; you are going to need to pay for the first months (usually) rent, and a bunch of other fees just to move in. So that $1,000 apartment, just went up to $4,000 in one shot for the first time payment. Again- pick that jaw up off the floor, the details are in the writing! Let me itemize that list so you can see what not only I but most people in Japan deal with. (FYI, ‘~’ will mean ‘about’ or ‘average’ ).
・ One month's deposit (~80,000 yen)
・ Key money (~80,000 yen)
・ The Agencies fee (~120,000-140,000 yen) about 1 ½ months rent.
・ The first months rent upfront (80,000 yen)
・ Property Insurance (15,000 yen)
・ Maintenance Fee (10,000 yen)
・ Key Exchange Fee (12,000 yen) if needed.
・ Pet Fee ( Depends on Landlord Honestly)
All of this adds up really quick, to about $4,500 honestly. You hear that? It’s my hair, turning grey! So try to come prepared with a list of what you are exactly looking for in a listing, to minimize the time it takes to wheedle out what’s out there.
These will be the people who will show you the listings they have available for the area that you are in (different areas will require different agents). They will also be able to give you same day tours of the apartments that you’ve chosen. You only have to pay the agent that handles your final contract, and not a Yen before!
Passport and Visa
This bothered me a lot actually as since the apartment was in my husband’s name, I shouldn’t need to provide my passport and information really. Yet here in Japan, they like to have a record of EVERYONE that is living in that apartment at all times- so don’t be too offended.
I needed to provide a copy of my passport, in color for both the identification page and the visa page. If you can provide them with a copy of your Gaijin card that would also help. An important note to remember, they won't rent long-term for people with 90-day visitation visas- so please search carefully!
A Japanese Phone Number
You guessed it right, a Japanese based phone number in order to rent a house in Japan. If your agent needs to call you and inform you about literally anything, it is going to be done with a Japanese phone number, so you need to have one on record for them no matter the reason. If’s and’s or but’s do not make them happy campers if you can not oblige.
A Japanese Bank Account
From what I’ve heard on the grapevine from other Ex-Pats, you don’t need a Japanese bank account when LOOKING for a place to live initially, but eventually, you are going to have to shift to paying for your apartment or home with one later on. If you are applying from overseas, your foreign bank account will work for a wire transfer, some agencies will even accept a credit card- ask them what they prefer in regards to payment. Be mindful, not all places are equipped to handle people that want to pay cash upfront, as it is extremely uncommon.
An Employer letter
You probably used these papers when applying for your Visa in the first place. It will announce what your activities in Japan are to a tee!
A Copy of Your Pay Slip/ Bank Statement
You will need to prove to the agents that you can actually afford the place you have chosen to live in for more than a few months. They will ask to see a copy of your pay slips, or your bank slip. The bar they set is usually three times the rent you have to pay to show that your income is sustainable.
Emergency Contact (In Japan)
In case of an emergency, or if you suddenly fell off the face of the earth, your emergency contact will be called to deal with the oh so hot mess you decided to dump in their lap! Whether by choice or not.
Now there is already a stigma on Foreigners renting in Japan, and most Landlords and Agents would prefer you to have an emergency contact who is actually Japanese, as it makes you seem more reliable. (I’m not offended, you're offended….)
Where to Live, or Not to Live- That is the Question!
Renting a house in Japan will take a lot of thought on your part, whether you want to live in the big bustling city, or in something a little more refined and laid back like the edge of the city. (As countryside living is not for the faint of heart here in Japan-especially considering the heat!). You will also have to take into consideration the costs of living in the city versus living in a more suburban area. Yes, things will be cheaper living further away from central Tokyo, but things will also be a lot harder to come by. Like certain types of medical care, certain types of transportation and availability, even food!
Here in the city, we have access to many types of Hospitals, and even clinics for those with small needs. We have many different types of transportation needs that are always being met: Train, Subway, Bicycle, Scooter, Car, Car Rental, Taxi, even hoofing it on foot. (Let’s be honest though, that’s available worldwide).
So on a parting note, I will include a list of real estate websites that we combed through in the Tokyo area that helped us find our place to live. Hopefully, this parting gift will help others in the future too!
Until next time you guys~
Friendly Neighborhood Gaijin Logging Off!