• Life in Japan

How to move into an apartment in Japan


Moving into a new place in Japan, can be daunting.


How to move into an apartment in Japan?
Moving house around Japan is somewhat of an undertaking, to be honest. Even if you benefit from living here for some time, knowing some Japanese friends, or having a Japanese partner or spouse, it is still quite time-consuming. The first thing you are going to need when moving into a new place in Japan is a residence card (we have an article all about that here). Unless you are coming here on a student visa or a long term visa, you will need to have a place of work that will sponsor your visa. At Link Japan Careers, we have several jobs that are open to people who want to come to Japan that is available for all professional people. Feel free to click here and find out more.

How do I move into an apartment in Japan 

Okay, so assuming you have your job lined up, and your residence card handy, you are now good to start looking at leases. If you are arriving in Japan with a client of LJC’s you may be eligible for our Life support services in which case we will be able to assist you with finding and securing your apartment, if not some real estate agent companies that are helpful are UR apartments, GTN or Aonissin. You can read more about UR, GTN, or Aonissin here.


Inspecting the property

When you do inspect the property, be sure to note any problems. This is an important thing as anything that was damaged by the previous tenant that the landlord missed could cause him to blame you.
What type of fees can I expect in leasing an apartment building in Japan?
When you find a place to live and have thoroughly inspected it. You will want to know how much to expect to pay upfront. In Japan, in addition to rent, you can also expect to pay:

1) Rent:

The standard monthly sum you are going to pay each month while living in Japan. Rent across Japan varies quite considerably. The average rent in Tokyo for a one-bedroom unit is between 50,000 ~70,000 yen, but this could go up beyond 100,000 if you are trying to live in the Yamanote line. Although a little dated, you can look at the average monthly rent nationwide at the following site here. Rent can be paid in cash or by direct deposit from your bank account.

2) Key Money:

This is a gratuity payment of about one month’s rent. The practice is quite common across Japan for all people regardless of nationality. You will not receive this money back when you leave. Key money is a funny issue. Outside of hotspots like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, you may be able to find real estate agencies that can negotiate contracts without key money. However, if you’re living in Tokyo, it is unlikely you will be able to get out of paying the key money.

3) Deposit:

The deposit is usually 1 or 2 months of rent. The landlord will likely hold this and try to use it if anything is damaged during the tenure of your lease. Please note that there may be refurbishments that are made that are not covered in the maintenance fee (see below) and are mentioned in your contract. (E.g. Tatami flooring). When you leave your accommodation in Japan, you will get some of the deposit back, but it is unlikely to be the full amount. Almost all accommodations are professionally cleaned before the real estate agent puts the property back on the market, and that money will come from the deposit usually.


4)Agency fee:

The standard fee you will pay for the agent’s service. Some agents will not charge a brokerage fee. However, again, expect to see this type of fee in hotspots where there is some degree of exclusivity.

5) Guarantor Fee:

When you set up a lease agreement, you will likely need to set up a guarantor to act on your behalf so you cannot pay the rent. Once again, this is fairly standard practice across Japan. Although most people can act as a guarantor, many agencies are increasingly requiring individuals to use companies instead. If you are unsure, ask the realtor as they may have a preferred party that has a lower rate.


6)Maintenance fee:

A fee to cover the 管理kanri – building’s management/caretaker. Think things like drainage, cleaning-exterior, elevator, etc.

7) Fire insurance:

At the beginning of each 2-year lease, you will be required to take out this insurance. It is considered compulsory, so it is unlikely you will be able to negotiate it.
As you can see, there are many move-in costs you may need to be aware of when moving to Japan. However, as you can see for convenience, many of these movements of the expenses are being centralized so moving into a new place in Japan is only getting easier.
Don't worry your apartment will be slightly bigger than these 3 models here. I will help you with How to move into an apartment in Japan

Moving into a new place in Japan.


A quick visit to the city hall/ward office.

Once you have started your lease and signed a contract, you will want to go to your local city hall and report your current residence to the local government. It is the law that when you move anywhere in Japan that you go to the city hall and complete your address registration. When you do this, you will want to bring your residence card, a copy of your lease, and any documents or certificates of accompanying family members or dependents, including marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc. Once you have registered with your city hall/ ward office, you will now be able to go about setting up your utilities as well as getting your My number card.

What is the mynumber card?

The mynumber card is a card that is issued by your city hall as a point of identification. It contains a lot of the same information as your residence card, but it also has your individual number. This number can be used in a variety of ways, and you can see a list here.

Setting up utilities in Japan.

The companies that you use for utilities can often change from region to region. However, there are large companies nationwide, such as TEPCO and Tohoku Denryoku. You will find that the utility company you will use will already be decided upon by the apartment/landlord. When setting up the utilities, your provider will issue you with a customer number. If you find yourself with a problem regarding your services, you will be able to quote it to save time.

How often do I pay my utilities in Japan?

Although the payment cycle will likely depend on the utility company, most companies will charge electricity and gas every month, and water every two months.

A typical process:

Step 1) You will open the utilities while signing your lease agreement.
Step 2) The utility companies will send you a notice indicating the start date. It is important to note that this is not a bill rather a note to start.  It is not uncommon for a company person to come out to your apartment at a scheduled time and turn on your gas taps. You may be asked to pay for a deposit.
Step 3) Monthly payments will start. You can pay your utility bills at most convenience stores and banks. If you would like to set a direct deduction system from your bank account, you will need to fill out an application form that is written in Japanese. In many large companies like Link Japan Careers, there is staff available to help you do this. Otherwise, if you are not confident in your Japanese ability, we would recommend asking a friend. It is not a particularly difficult form, and many Japanese people will have filled it out personally.

A quick note:

Sometimes, a direct deposit can take a few months to set up. If this is the case, simply pay the bills at the convenience store. The worst thing you can do is not pay your bills on time. In Japan, the utility companies are quite forgiving, and while missing one payment (possibly due to being away on holiday, etc.) is not going to cause a problem (they will likely resend the bill within 2 weeks after the passed deadline). Continuous missing of payments can cause your service to be cut.


This concludes the first part of How to move into an apartment in Japan. We hope it answered some of your general questions!  Otherwise what have a read here to find out how you can stay cool this summer.
Interested in living and working in Japan?  Check out ALT jobs with Interac here.