How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Tokyo?

No matter which field you’re planning to find employment at, Tokyo offers you the most opportunities. Therefore, unless you own real estate in the Japanese capital, you’ll have to start looking for a rental property prior to your relocation. Finding a place to rent and live in Tokyo can be overwhelming, especially to those who don’t speak Japanese. Besides the language, the ins and outs of the rental system in Japan can also be frustrating in some cases so I decided to have a look at the details and in this short guide I’m going to introduce your three different properties in central Tokyo to demonstrate the amount of money you’d have to spend each month only to provide shelter above your head.

How much is it to rent an apartment in Tokyo?

While you can find rental properties in Japan on various English sites, the number of properties listed by Japanese real estate agencies are much larger compared to those listed by English speaking realtors. Therefore if you can at least read Japanese and you know how to navigate through a Japanese website, you have tremendous advantages over the expats who don’t know Japanese.

SUUMO is one of the largest real estate corporations in Japan and they actively advertise rental properties all around Japan, including Tokyo. Their website is well-designed and it’s straightforward to use, especially if you know how to read Japanese. This is how the homepage looks, all in Japanese:

The homepage of SUUMO in 2020

I wanted to show you some rental properties in Tokyo, therefore I clicked on the “関東 or Kanto” button, which shall indicate the capital regions of Japan.

On the next screen you’ll have the option to choose whether you are looking for rental properties or properties for sale. I clicked on “借りる or to rent”, because I was searching for rental properties in Tokyo.

Choose 借りる on this page

This will give you a schematic map of the metropolitan area and you have to select “東京 or Tokyo” from this figure if you’re looking for rental properties in Tokyo.

Choose 東京 on this page

The next screen will show you two options. These will be the buttons to select whether you want to search by area or subway lines. For me it was easier to search for areas, so I click on the button on the right.

Choose エリア on this page

The next step will be to choose an area. One of the most central locations of the capital is “渋谷 or Shibuya” and I was interested in rental properties in this district of Tokyo.

Choose 渋谷 on this page

This is where Shibuya is in Tokyo:

渋谷 in Tokyo

If you select the area, you have to click on the 検索する button, which will take you to the search results.

The listings

When the page loads, you can see the current number of listings. When I was searching for a property, there were 39.077 listings that satisfied my search conditions. So we’re ready to scroll down a little bit and search for a suitable apartment.

If you scroll down, you can see the layout of the properties and the rent is indicated with red. Usually they are in ¥10.000 units, so you have to multiply the displayed price by 10.000 to get the total amount. For example if you see the following: 11.5万円, that means ¥115.000 or $1100 per month.

There are other parameters displayed in the result list, and you have to know some Japanese in order to understand these numbers.

For example if it says 8階, it means that the property is on the 8th floor.

If it say 礼17.25万円, it means that there is a ¥172.500 fee to be paid when you sign the rental agreement in Tokyo.

Another very important factor is the refundable deposit. For example if it says 敷5.75万円, it means that there is a ¥57.500 refundable deposit to be paid by the tenant. Expect this to be returned to you if you leave the property intact when you cancel your contact.

There is another entry that will tell you the layout of the property. For example if it says ワンルーム 30.2m2, then this is a 30 square meter one-room type apartment, or in other words a small studio apartment, ideal for a single tenant to move in.

You might find three buttons on the right side. 動画 means video, so I guess the realtor uploaded videos to the listing. 追加 means to add. And 詳細を見る to see the details.

$1100 per month in central Tokyo

Now let’s open one of the listings and I’m going to explain some of the information displayed on the property’s page.

There are several factors you have to consider when you’re searching for an apartment in Tokyo. The most important attribute of a Japanese rental property is undoubtedly its size. Finding a cheap apartment in Tokyo is not impossible, but you shouldn’t not expect a spacious space for less than $1000 per month. Even then cheapest options will have concomitant costs and the initial payment usually exceeds $2-3000, because you have to pay the realtor’s commission, key exchange fee, refundable deposit and a fee for rental rights in addition to one month rent. Such information is displayed in the following way for a Japanese rental property:

  • 管理費・公益費:8000円 ($76) (utilities)
  • 敷金:5.75万円 ($550) (refundable deposit)
  • 礼金:17.25万円 ($1650) (fee for rental rights)

The refundable deposit is understandable for westerners, because this is a fee collected by the landlord to ensure that you don’t destroy anything in the apartment, however the “fee for rental rights” is somewhat absurd, as most western countries don’t have this component. The better the quality of a Japanese rental property the higher this fee is and nobody can tell you a reasonable explanation as for why Japanese landlords charge this fee. This is not a cleaning fee or agent fee, because everything else is charged under a different name. This is money you have to pay. In some cases you can ask for a discount, but in most cases you won’t get too much of it, and this is especially true for those properties with high competition. If you’re planning to rent something in central Tokyo, you should accept the fact that there will be other candidates for the place and if you’re a foreigner with no Japanese guarantor, you are in a much weaker position when it comes to negotiations. You can see that the property above has a ¥172.500 fee for rental rights and if other possible clients are looking at this property expect to pay the full amount. If not, then you might try with an offer of ¥130.000 or ¥150.000 and see how the agent reacts.

The first listing

$736 per month in central Tokyo

The next property I’m going to discuss here is a much cheaper option. This apartment is ideal for a single tenant with a limited budget, as the monthly rent is $736 excluding utilities. There is a refundable deposit of $734 so you’re not going to lose a lot of money even if you destroy the apartment completely. There is no fee for rental rights and this is good news, but the apartment is extremely small. This is the reason for the low price. If you’re alone and you’re starting your new life in Tokyo, this might be a good option for you, however if you have a decent job with a reasonable salary, then it might be better to look for more spacious spaces. The total area of this place is around 20 sq. m. and while this might seem sufficient to survive, the apartment is definitely not a comfortable choice.
  • 管理費・公益費:8000円 ($76)
  • 敷金:7.7万円 ($734)

These small Japanese apartments are very well planned, and you can place your furniture in a way that you still have some empty space, but still this is not a place to live for many years. I would recommend these compact options if this is the first time you’re renting a place in Tokyo and you’re about to settle in the city. You can choose such a place for a few months, until you find a decent job in Tokyo and when you’ve saved enough money to pay for a larger apartment, move immediately, because it’s not fun to live in such a small den!

The second listing

$5360 per month in central Tokyo

Finally, let’s see a high-end solution for those who have larger budgets. If you want to have more space in Tokyo, be prepared to pay significantly more. In some cases the floor size is not even in linear proportion to the rent. I guess this is because, while there are many people looking for tiny and cheap places in Tokyo, the number of possible tenants for a larger, more luxurious place is much less.

  • 敷金:56万円 ($5360)
  • 礼金:56万円 ($5360)
  • 専有面積:71.84

The apartment on the next image costs significantly more. The rent is almost 6 times more, while the floor size is roughly 3.5 more than the previously introduced rental property.

The third listing

The more modern, high-end apartments in Tokyo can be found in very tall buildings that were built recently. These larger places are much more sought than the small old ones, therefore the landlords are in a position to set a much higher price for these units. This rental property might not represent the average of its category, however it can still serve as a good example to learn about the rental prices in Tokyo if you are looking for a more spacious option.

Stay tuned for the next post! じゃねー!


Content: LB

Further reading

More Videos