Today I’ll share with you my experience of looking and renting an apartment in Japan.
I moved to Japan in October 2016. At that time I have to live in school dormitory. I can stay at dormitory for 1 year. However, I can move out if I want to after lived there for 6 months. Well, thank God Alhamdulillah, that Allah blessed me with a great roommate. They’re great and we’re still remain friends up until now.
I moved out after 6 months. The thing is, no matter how great my roommate is I’m just not used to live with other people, sharing space and stuff.
At that time, my Japanese ability was super limited. I might understand what people saying but I didn’t knew how to convey my thoughts and opinion.
Alhamdulillah my school really care to their students and they have some kind of rules that we only able to rent room from appointed real estate broker.
There are several brokers, but I only remember 2 😅
It’s Leopalace 21 and Apaman (アパマン). I don’t know why, but at that time most of my Chinese friends (including me) used Leopalace 21, and my Vietnamese friends used Apaman.
If you just came to Japan, or your Japanese availability is very limited (like me before), I suggest you to come straight to Leoplace 21 or Apaman. Leopalace have a great support in foreign language. They have English call center. Also in Namba branch, they have English, Chinese, Vietnamese speaking staff.. I don’t know for sure if Apaman also have it or not. But my Vietnamese friend have no problem, so I believe they do have a great support for foreign language.
Okay, here’s the steps of renting an apartment in Japan!
1. Decide where do you want to live.
Well, you don’t have to be specific. But you do have to know where do you want to live. Actually, the more specific the better. If you already know in which area you want to live, you can just strolling around in that area and choose which one you’re interested in. Usually they have a sign 入居募集 with phone number written on it. If you confident enough with your Japanese skill, then go ahead and call that number.
“I still don’t know where I want to live”, it’s okay but you do need to make a list of your needs. For example, I still don’t know where the best place to live. However, I really need to stay in an apartment that close to Midosuji Line station since I have to commute to work everyday with Midosuji Subway.
You might want to take supermarket or any other facility into consideration. As for me, not only Midosuji line station, I also need the building to have elevator and air conditioner/heater.
In my case, I used an app called Suumo. You can also access it through browser with this link https://suumo.jp/, it’s in Japanese, but it’s quite easy to use. Also, it’s quite reliable if you compare it to the other apps/website.
Since I still not decided where to live at that time, and also I have no time to go directly to the site, first I used the app to look for the apartment. I entered my preferences and voila, they showed me several options. If you want to take a look at the apartment, you can visit the room by making a reservation first.
2. Make a visit to the room you’re interested in
Since I’ve been using Suumo to help me choose the room, I spent a lot of time with my phone looking for a room. After looking, looking, and looking I decided to visit 3 rooms in different location and different agent. When you have a room that you interested in, just press 見学予約. It means that you want to visit the room. Later the real estate broker that responsible of the apartment you chose will contact you directly. Then, you’ll discuss about when you’ll come to visit the room.
Usually you have to meet the broker at their office, and then they will take you by their company car to visit the apartment. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the traveling expense.
Well, I know it’s tiresome and you really want to decide as soon as possible. However, don’t hurry yourself to make a decision. Take your time, visit all the room that you really interested in. At first, I just want to take the first room I went to. However, Alhamdulillah at that time my father accompanied me and he said that I HAVE TO GO TO ALL THE PLACES THAT I ALREADY MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH. Well, his reason is simple, it’s rude to broke a promise. Thanks to that, right now I live in the apartment that I’ve fallen in love with.
3. Decide which one is “The One”
“The one” in this case is a room, not a person (jok baper 😂).
There are a lot of things that you have to think through before decided which one is the one. Moving in/out in Japan is not a simple thing (in my opinion), also is not cheap. There are various things that you have to pay. Like 礼金(reikin). Reikin is the amount of money you have to pay to the landlord a the gratitude for letting you rent the apartment. You will not get back this money. In Osaka you’ll need at least 100,000 yen to move-in to a new room (not included the cost you need to bring all of your things to the new apartment).
After decided which apartment, you have to contact the broker that showed you the room, that you want to rent it.
Usually they’ll ask you to come by to their office and explain the term and condition. They’ll also ask you when you wan to move in, and will start to calculate the initial cost you need to pay.
You have to understand what kind of term and condition the broker offer. If you don’t understand, just ask them until you understand.
As for me, they need a Japanese Nationality as my guarantor. Alhamdulillah, I have a friend who’s willing to be my guarantor. Although I ended up troubling her because she had to get few certificate in order to be my guarantor.
If everything settled, the broker will give you a quotation form or 見積書, this one below is the one I got from my broker:
Please note that if you use a broker, you do have to pay them a commission. Commission usually counted best on the monthly rent of the apartment they introduce to you.
4. Pay the initial cost and finalise the contract!
Yup, it’ s the hardest part. Paying… hahaha. As you can see, moving to a new apartment in Japan will cost you a lot of money. After you transfer them the initial cost, you have to inform them. They will ask you to come one or two more time to finalise the contract.
Things you need to make sure:
- Get your own copy of the contract and keep it in a safe place
- Usually they’ll make you enrol to a program from an insurance company. In that case, make sure that you get your own copy of the insurance’s contract as well.
- You have to confirm how many keys you’ll receive. Make sure to count it together with the broker’s staff
- Confirm with your broker about the common rules of the apartment (ex: when to take out the trash, what colour of trash bag should be used, how to divide trash, etc)
- Get the contact of the actual company that managing the apartment (管理会社)
- Ask them about how to set gas, wifi, or whatever you might need. Usually, they’ll only give you the contact number and you have to contact them by yourself. It’s important, because usually each apartment already have a partner company for these services. As far as I know, you may change the provider later, but you have to use their partner at first.
5. Move in! (and move out)
If you stay in a monthly rented apartment, you have to notify them (the managing company) at least 1 month prior to your move out date. They might deduct your next month rent. For example, I moved out on March 15. Therefore, I just have to pay half for March’s rent.
Even though you received the key, you’re only allowed to enter the room starting from your move-in day. For example, if your move-in day is April 5th, you may enter the building and the room you rent from April 5th at 12 am. Make sure you spare a few days to move all your stuff from your old accommodation to the new one. And make sure you’re not accidentally make yourself homeless by setting the date of move-out and move-in wrongly. Like, you set the move-out day on April 5th and move-in day on the 6th. You have to move out all of your stuff and give back the key(s) during business hour on your scheduled move-out day.
Since I was moving all of my stuff by myself, I spare 2 weeks. It means I kept both of 2 apartments for 2 weeks. If you have sufficient money, you can just use a service to move all of your belongings. Well, I was very tight on money, so I had to move all my stuff by myself using bicycle and also brought it in suitcases then moved it using train.
Below, is my journey during moving stuff~
When I buy stuff, I always buy the one that can be folded so it will easier for me when I have to move out.
Oh ya! I almost forgot, before you actually live in your new place, you have to contact the gas, water, electricity company. It will take some times for them to setting all of the facilities.