7 Important Points for Living in a Tokyo Apartment

7 Important Points for Living in a Tokyo Apartment

For the foreigner coming to work in Tokyo, finding accommodation is a major first hurdle. For one thing, the housing stock may be unfamiliar, and secondly, the procedures, traditions and fees involved in finding a Tokyo apartment can be confusing. Fortunately, Japanese companies that employ foreigners are used to dealing with these issues. Here, then, are seven things you might be interested to know about renting a Tokyo apartment.



 

7 Important Points for Living in a Tokyo Apartment

 

1. Size

The first thing one can say about Tokyo apartments is they’re diminutive and only the famously creative Japanese use of space saves them from being cramped. On the other hand, they’re generally clean, modern and free from damp and draughts. Most single occupancy dwellings consist of one room, like a bedsit, with a small kitchen area and a separate combined bath/shower/WC. More substantial lets with separate bedrooms are accordingly higher in cost. Many landlords provide basic amenities, such as an air-conditioner (essential in the summer), a gas hob and, sometimes a microwave oven. Otherwise, furnishings may be quite sparse.

 

2. Construction

There are a variety of building types to choose from; from sprawling, so-called ‘bed town’ developments, hundreds of acres of high rise blocks, to simple two-storey, wood frame constructions tucked away on city streets. Generally, building standards are high in Japan and slums and slum landlords are unheard of. But whatever style you’re offered, in whatever part of town, newer buildings will probably better survive a major earthquake.

 

3. Rents

The bad news is you’ll be paying through the nose for your Tokyo apartment, around a third of your income. You need to provide the estate agent/landlord with copies of your passport, proof of employment and salary, your Japan tax certificate and a copy of your residence card (Juminhyo), as well as guarantor information where applicable.

 

4. Additional Fees

However, it will be your initial outlay that really stings. Additional fees include: 2 months deposit, agent’s fee, key money, contract renewal fee and miscellaneous charges related to insurance and building maintenance, all of which could add up to the equivalent of 6 months rent! The legality of some of these fees is open to interpretation, but Japan is awash with unenforced rules, so all you can do is pay up and take independent advice later, or look for alternatives.

 

5. The Alternatives

The good news is, not everyone in the business of renting Tokyo apartments is out to fleece you. UR Housing in Tokyo is a public company that offers rental dwellings without asking for key money, agent or renewal fees, requires no guarantor and rents to anyone irrespective of nationality. A guarantor is often required when letting to foreigners, which adds to the fees and paperwork. However, many employers act as guarantors for what are known as company lets, or themselves own housing, in which case, much of the hassle in finding accommodation will be taken out of your hands. Similarly, if you have a Japanese spouse, they will act as your guarantor in all respects and can take on the responsibility of finding suitable housing.

 

6. Proximity to Stations

Working in Tokyo will often mean a lot of commuting or travelling around on trains, so it makes sense to look for accommodation near a convenient station. But everyone else is thinking the same thing, which of course induces landlords to charge significantly higher rents for ever smaller apartments close to stations. If you don’t mind a long walk, or can invest in a bicycle, you may find a more substantial Tokyo apartment for less rent further away from your station.

 

7. Neighbours

For their generally tolerant and considerate nature, Japanese neighbours must be among the best in the world. In fact, you probably won’t even realise they’re there most of the time, unless you were foolish enough to rent a Tokyo apartment with ridiculously thin walls! So repay this consideration by being a good, not unduly noisy neighbour yourself. And, when you do move into your new home, introduce yourself to those either side of you with a small gift, like we Japanese do; it will earn you great respect.

 

Conclusion

Moving house is very stressful, but moving from country to country, culture to culture, is even more so. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer, school, college or spouse what they can do to assist you ahead of your move. Of course, sometimes one may have to accept what is made available to you, but it will improve your comfort and outlook if you can make your own choices. Welcome to Tokyo!

 

7 Important Points for Living in a Tokyo Apartment

1. Size
2. Construction
3. Rents
4. Additional Fees
5. The Alternatives
6. Proximity to Stations
7. Neighbours