Living Infomation

Comprehensive Living Guide for Foreign Residents in Japan

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Housing, rent and moving

Types of housing/How to find your home

Renting privately owned housing

  • If you plan to rent a privately-owned house or apartment, it is convenient to use the services provided by housing agents. Based on individual preferences such as rent, property size or commuting methods, the agents can list and give you the information on suitable rental properties.
  • The initial down payment to rent a home costs the equivalent of as much as five to six months rent. The cost includes the first month’s rent, security deposit (shikikin), key money (reikin) and agency fees.
  • In principle, the security deposit (shikikin) must be returned to you by the landlord when you vacate the residence. However, expenses to clean the rented house or apartment and/or repair damages can be subtracted from the security deposit (shikikin) upon vacating.
  • Natural wear and tear is normally the landlord/landlady’s responsibility. If you have any disputes with the landlord/landlady over your shikikin, you may consult the National Consumer Affairs Center or a local Consumer’s Center. To instruct the rental housing industry and to reduce any related disputes, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has established guidelines on the responsibilities for the restoration of rental properties. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Urban Development has also established the Rental Housing Conflict Prevention Act.
  • Disputes regarding security deposits are very common. In order to avoid these issues, please be sure to read the rental agreement carefully. If you are not comfortable with reading Japanese, ask a Japanese native of an acquaintance to help you read through the rental agreement.
  • Key money (reikin) is more like a move-in fee you pay to the landlord/landlady and is usually equivalent to one to two months’ rent. Key money is not refundable. Some rental properties today do not require key money.
  • To complete a rental contract, in many cases you are required to have a guarantor. Under certain circumstances, there are "rental guarantor companies" that can act as your guarantor.

Public housing

  • An application for renting public housing is accepted only during the designated application period.
  • For most properties, applicants will be selected by lottery to rent the property.
  • To be eligible for application, you need to meet certain requirements including the maximum annual income.

Dormitories for students, exchange students and corporate employees/homestay

  • In addition to using university and Japanese language school dormitories to house foreign exchange students, there are dormitories for exchange students operated by national and local governments, and private organizations.
  • The Foundation of Corporate Friendship Network for Foreign Students gains support from Japanese corporations to allow international students to stay at corporate dormitories.
  • In any situation, the number of dormitory rooms is limited. Consult your school about eligibility and other details.
  • Homestay with Japanese families is available, but there are few families willing to accept foreign students.
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Things to do when you move

Cancel the rental contract on your home.

  • You need to inform your landlord/landlady of your intention to cancel the contract one to two months prior to your desired cancellation date (refer to your rental contract).

Find a moving company.

  • There are a number of moving companies available in Japan. If you plan to use their services, you should obtain an estimate of moving costs from several companies to compare prices.
  • If you plan to move on your own, there are various rental vehicles of various sizes that can be rented from a car rental company.

Notification that you are moving.

Please contact the following utilities when you change your address:

  • The sales offices of electricity companies, gas companies and Bureau of Waterworks.
  • Telephone companies and internet providers.
  • Post office.
  • Bank and other financial institutes you use.
  • Follow procedures to transfer your child(ren) into the public elementary/junior high school.
  • Submit a moving-out notice to the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside to receive a moving-out certificate. You may also need to return certain items such as your personal seal registration card (inkan toroku-sho), national health insurance card (kokumin kenko hoken-sho), and long-term care insurance certificate (kaigo hoken hi-hokensha-sho).
Things to do after you move

You may need to take the necessary procedures for the following items after you move:

  • Take appropriate steps to initiate utility services such as electricity, gas, water, telephone (for gas, you will need to make an appointment and must be home when a gas company employee turns on the gas supply)
  • School transfer (if your child transfers to a public elementary/junior high school).
  • Moving-in notification: bring the moving-out certificate you received from your previous address along with your resident card to the municipal office of the ward (or city, town or village) where you will reside. Within 14 days of relocating submit a moving-in notification. If you wish to enroll in national health insurance (kokumin kenko hoken) or national pension (kokumin nenkin) plans, application forms may be submitted to the municipal office where you will reside.
  • Personal seal registration (inkan toroku): you are required to re-register your seal at the municipal office of the ward (or city, town or village) where you will reside.
  • Change of address on your driver’s license: This can be done at the police station, driver’s license renewal center or driver’s license examination center.
Tips to avoid trouble

Keep the following tips in mind to avoid any trouble while you are renting.

  • You cannot allow any additional family members or friends to share your rental residence without asking permission from your landlord. Subleasing the property you are renting is also unacceptable.
  • You should not nail anything onto the walls or alter the property.
  • Refrain from making too much noise.
  • Learn and follow your new community’s rules for trash disposal.
    To make your community comfortable for everyone, good manners are most important. Make your new life enjoyable and safe by frequently communicating with your neighbors.
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