カテゴリーのアイコン Life in Japan
A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Housing in Japan
Nov 20, 2023
6 min read
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Looking for work or planning to study in Japan? This comprehensive guide will help you find accomodation and navigate the real estate market as a foreign national.

If you are a foreign national planning to live, study or work in Japan, finding suitable accommodation is a crucial step in your relocation process. Japan offers a diverse range of housing options, but navigating the real estate market can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the country's customs and language barriers. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable insights, practical tips, and recommendations on how to find housing in Japan as a foreign national.

Terms to Know

Below are a few Japanese terms to know before you begin on your search. These may be confusing, but are very important and can significantly affect the amount you pay, upfront or continuously.

  1. Deposit (敷金 Shiki-kin): Paid upfront to cover future damages to the housing, and is refunded when you move out (after subtracting costs of cleaning and repairs). Typically about 1-2 months' worth of rent.
  2. Key Money (礼金 Rei-kin): Paid to the landlord as a form of thanks, however is not always charged. Non-refundable, also about a few months' worth of rent.
  3. Advance Rent Payments (前家賃 Mae-yachin): Payment of rent for the month (and sometimes the following month) when confirming the lease.
  4. Broker's Commission (仲介手数料 Chukai-tesuryo): Fee paid towards the real estate agency. Typically about 1 month's worth of rent.
  5. Fire Insurance (火災保険料 Kasai-hokenryou): Insurance for fire damages within your home. Typically renewed every two years, for approximately 15,000-20,000 yen.
  6. Guarantee Charge (保証料 Hosho-ryou): This fee occurs if you would like to sign with a guarantor company.

(via Apaman Network Co.,Ltd.)

Research the Neighborhoods

Before embarking on your search for accommodation, it is essential to research the different neighborhoods in Japan. Each area has its own unique characteristics and advantages, so consider factors such as proximity to your workplace, accessibility to transportation, availability of essential amenities (e.g., supermarkets, schools, medical facilities), safety, and the overall ambiance of the neighborhood. By understanding the neighborhoods, you can narrow down your options and find an area that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

Determine Your Budget

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Establishing a clear and realistic budget is crucial when searching for accommodation in Japan. Consider not only the monthly rent but also additional costs such as maintenance fees, utilities, internet, and parking fees. In addition, be prepared for upfront expenses like the security deposit, key money, and agent fees listed above. By identifying your budget, you can focus on properties that are within your financial means and avoid any surprises later on.

Rent prices in Tokyo can vary significantly depending on the location, size, and condition of the property. Generally, you can expect rent in Tokyo to be higher compared to other cities in Japan.

Here is a rough overview of the rental ranges in different areas of Tokyo:

  • Central Tokyo (Minato, Shibuya, Chiyoda, Shinjuku): Rent for a single-room apartment or a small studio in prime areas can range from 100,000 to 200,000 yen per month.
  • Popular Residential Areas (Setagaya, Meguro, Suginami, Nakano): Rent for a one-bedroom apartment or a small apartment in these areas can range from 80,000 to 150,000 yen per month.
  • Suburban Areas (Adachi, Edogawa, Itabashi, Katsushika): Rent for a one-bedroom apartment or a small apartment in these areas can range from 60,000 to 100,000 yen per month.

It is important to note that these ranges are just estimates, and actual rent prices can vary depending on factors such as the specific neighborhood, proximity to transportation, age of the building, and the property's size and amenities. Additionally, rental prices may have fluctuated over time, so it's always a good idea to research current rent prices and consult with local real estate agents or browse online platforms to get a better understanding of the specific rental market in Tokyo.

Engage with a Real Estate Agent

Navigating the Japanese real estate market can be complex, particularly for foreign nationals. Hiring a reputable real estate agent who specializes in working with non-Japanese clients can greatly simplify the process. A knowledgeable agent can offer valuable assistance in finding suitable properties, negotiating lease terms, and handling the necessary paperwork. They will also provide insights into specific neighborhoods, guide you through the local customs, and ensure a smoother renting experience overall. However, be aware that this may involve a broker's commission fee when you decide on your housing.

Utilize Online Resources

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Take advantage of online platforms and resources to streamline your search for accommodation in Japan. Websites such as suumo.jp, homes.co.jp, and best-estate.jp offer a wide range of property listings, allowing you to filter your search based on location, size, budget, and specific preferences. Virtual tours and comprehensive property descriptions provide a more accurate representation of the properties, helping you make informed decisions from a distance.

Network and Seek Recommendations

Networking within the expatriate community and seeking recommendations from fellow foreign nationals can be invaluable when finding accommodation in Japan. Join local expat groups, social media communities, and online forums to connect with individuals who have already navigated the rental market. They can provide firsthand advice, recommend reliable real estate agents or agencies, and share insights about different neighborhoods, rental prices, and local practices.

Attend Housing Expos and Events

Consider attending housing expos and events, as they provide excellent opportunities to explore a wide variety of housing options in one place. These gatherings often include real estate developers, agents, and housing providers showcasing their offerings. It allows you to gather information, compare properties, ask questions directly to experts, and build connections. Take advantage of the chance to discuss rental terms, inquire about pet-friendly options, and gain further insights into the rental market.

Understand Rental Contracts

Before signing a rental contract in Japan, carefully review and understand the terms and conditions. Pay close attention to important details such as the lease duration, renewal requirements, maintenance responsibilities, restrictions (e.g., pets, smoking), and penalties for early termination. If necessary, seek professional translation or legal assistance to ensure a clear understanding of the agreement and your rights and obligations as a tenant.

Conquering the Accommodation Challenge in Japan

Finding accommodation in Japan as a foreign national may seem daunting, but with thorough research, planning, and the support of professionals, it can be a manageable process. By following the advice and recommendations provided in this comprehensive guide, you will be well-prepared to find suitable accommodation and enjoy your experience living, studying or working in Japan.


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