Unless your company provides you with accommodation or enlists a realtor’s services on your behalf, you will have to find your new place in Japan on your own. The best way to do so is by contacting a real estate agent (fudousan-ya) or a relocation service and by asking for recommendations in expat circles.
Two general tips for flat hunting in Japan:
Most expats living in Japan rent rather than buy housing. Temporary accommodation in the form of furnished or serviced apartments is not widespread. However, rentals of this sort can be found in metropolitan districts with a high expatriate population, especially in Tokyo.
Japanese housing tends to be smaller than what you might be used to. However, Western-style apartments designed for foreign residents are bigger than the accommodation of many Japanese families. When you read an ad for an apartment, be aware that the size of a room may still be measured in the number of tatami floor-mats (90x 180 cm) it contains.
Also remember that Japanese flats are often insufficiently insulated. Buying fluffy blankets and electrical heaters for winter or a big fan in summer might come in handy.
When you have found the place of your dreams and have reached an understanding with the landlord, you usually need to bring the following documents for signing the rental agreement:
Moreover, do make sure that you have a certified English translation of the rental contract, so you know exactly what it involves.
In Japan, a month’s rent usually includes the rental fee (yachin) itself, a maintenance charge (kanri-hi), and a building management charge (kyoueki-hi). Electricity costs may be included as well, but this is not necessarily a given.
You must apply for utilities such as electricity, gas, and water at local commercial companies (gas and electricity) or at the local government office (water) as soon as you move in.
The fees involved in a rental agreement can amount to several months’ rent, even up to five or six months. This sum consists of:
So make sure you have enough money in your bank account. Once you have moved into a new flat and changed your address, don’t forget to report this to your local government office to update your Resident Card or Alien Registration Card.
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