Moving into a new place is a stressful process for anyone. This fact is even truer when moving in and looking for a place in a foreign country. Japan is no exception and looking for a place here can be difficult. There are many new terms you may have never heard of, like 1LDK or key money. In fact renting a place in Japan is a cultural experience in and of itself. Hopefully after reading this article you will can be confident in finding your next place in Japan.
Rent an apartment in Japan
The process for finding a place here in Japan is basic and doesn’t change too much whether you speak Japanese or don’t. The only thing that changes is which resource you should use! For Japanese speakers finding a place is as easy as walking into the nearest real estate office and inquiring. You can also browse online through a variety of different websites and smartphone apps.
For Non-Japanese speakers there are still a number of websites that will help you in your native language. I highly recommend using minimini.jp to get started. This website shows different real estate offices that have multi lingual workers and whether you speak Korean, Chinese, or English you will be able to find a real estate office that will support you in your native language. This website also allows users to search based on location, price and furnished or unfurnished.
When talking with an agent be sure to explain exactly what you are looking for, your preferences, and any conditions that may become a deal breaker for you. Some small things that I usually look out for are distance from the nearest train station, whether or not the building is made out of concrete and if it has a unit bath. Once the agent has an idea of what you are looking for and your budget he/she will start suggesting places and you will be able to schedule viewings to see your potential new apartment.
Useful words to know
Here is a useful words list that will help you decipher apartment descriptions and help you pick a place.
LDK: This stand for living, kitchen, and dining room. These three are usually connected in an open concept and most apartments are built surrounding this area.
1LDK: indicates one bedroom and a living, dining, and kitchen area. 2LDK means two bedrooms and a living dining kitchen area.
1K or 1DK: In bigger cities these measurements are a lot more common. The lack of L indicates no living room. 1K is usually one bedroom and a kitchen separated from the main room.
1R: This is what we would call a studio apartment. This is one room where the kitchen and bathroom are all accessible from the same space.
Jou (畳): Approximately 1.62 square meters this is the size of a standard tatami mat and indicates the approximate size of a room.
Reikin (礼金): This money you will never see again. This translates to “key money” in English and is a sort of commission payed to the landlord. This can vary from ¥0 all the way to 2 months this rent. It depends on the owner of the apartment.
Shikikin (敷金): This means safety deposit. This is payed to cover any potential damage that may occur directly due to you living in the apartment. This usually comes back when you move out and there is no significant damage to the apartment.
Kanrihi (管理費): This is the maintenance fee. A few usually paid to keep the building in operation and varies in price . This isn’t always required.
Chukai Tesuryo (仲介手数料): This means agent fee and this is kind of like a commission that the real estate agent charges for finding you a place.
Cleaning fee: This isn’t always charged, but covers the cost of cleaning out your apartment after you move out.
Basic things you need
There are a number of things you need in order to move into an apartment in Japan. Starting with the basics you need two forms of identification, the first one being your passport and the second can be either your visa, foreigner card, or a student ID. After that you need a Japanese phone number and a Japanese bank account. If you are employed you need proof of employment and if you are a student you need your certificate of eligibility. In addition to those you also need a copy of your bank statement or pay stub. Domestic emergency contact as well as a guarantor.
Renting a place in Japan is a difficult process, but hopefully this article has answered some questions and pointed you in the right direction. Whether you are working in Japan, going to school here, or just visiting renting a place can be a challenging yet rewarding experience! This process is unique in Japan and you will surely learn many things like putting the correct garbage out on the correct day, or measuring a rooms size by number of tatami mats.