Renting in Japan

Renting in Japan is notoriously difficult and expensive.

Having been living in hotels and hostels I was looking forward to having one base and more than just a 6 tatami mat space to live in.

We set a budget and my work enlisted two colleagues and a local estate agent and set them the task of finding me an apartment in the Osaka-jo Koen area of Osaka. We picked this area as we read online it was ok and is only a 15min bike ride to Amemura!

We looked at 3 apartments and we were torn between two – one was large (4 rooms) and newly refurbished (new bathroom and kitchen) but was in a quiet slightly shady area, and the second was smaller, and in a more lively area right by the train tracks. In the end we went with the later, we decided a smaller place would mean less furniture to deal with when we return to the UK!

To rent first you need to put in an application, luckily my work kindly dealt with all this for me. They explained that there was a high chance of it falling through for one reason or another (not wanting to rent to foreigners!) and that renting rules and policies vary area to area and it can be complicated even for a Japanese person. The message came back that I needed a garantor, someone in Japan to vouch for me preferably a relative. As I don’t have any such person my work offered to make the rental contract for me, and set up a contract for me to rent from them.

Renting in Japan comes with a large initial layout. In the UK you can expect to pay one months rent as a deposit and one months rent in advance. In Japan we paid…

  • Deposit 83,000 yen
  • Rent for Oct and half Sept 99,767 yen
  • Key money (to the landlord) 150,000 yen
  • Handling fee for the estate agent 47,775 yen
  • Fire Insurance for 2yrs 20,000 yen
  • Guarantee company (insurance) for 2yrs 21,900 yen
  • Exchange of the key (new locks) 15,750 yen
  • Cleaning of the apartment 15,750 yen

Which came to a total of 453,942 yen.

Compared to living in a hostel (2500-3000yen pnpp) or weekly mansion (150,000yen per month) over 6 months renting is still cheaper and of course you get more space and privacy. Although the apartments don’t tend to come furnished so you have to buy a bed and fridge at the very least.

We had the keys within 3 weeks of viewing which is very fast. We were very happy to leave our last hotel a 6 tatami mat room with only Japanese style toilets on our floor and two showers for the entire hotel.

We bought some futons from a local shop and a cheap online retailer, we went for futons as most beds are semi-doubles and we are used to king size space. So having a futon each was cheaper and more spacious.

Our sofa came from a sayonara sale we found online and cost 2000yen, yes it has some marks and is very used but it was dirt cheap and its comfortable. I picked up a full length mirror from a local recycle shop for 1500yen. And we hope to have a table, floor lamp and fridge soon, but we are in no rush to pay full retail prices and will wait until we find them in recycle shops or sayonara sales.

Our neighbourhood (Tamatsukuri) is really good, a few shops and a large Lawson, 3mins to the train station and subway and more bars and eateries than you can shake a stick at. Its pretty quiet apart from the JR loop line running right by our balcony that still wakes me up at 6.20am.

Overall renting in Japan can be difficult if you haven’t got support from someone Japanese and it can be expensive to start out. Although long term is the better option and rather than using company accommodation gives you the freedom to choose where you want to be and how much rent you want to pay.


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