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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is where Shibuya is 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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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 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！