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.
  • It may cost as much as five to six months' rent for an initial down payment to rent a property. The cost includes the first month's rent, security deposit (shikikin), key money (reikin) and agency fee.
  • In principle, the security deposit (shikikin) should be returned to you by the landlord when you move out of the property. 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. The Bureau of Urban Development of Tokyo has also established the Rental Housing Conflict Prevention Act.
  • Disputes regarding security deposits are very common. 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 make a rental contract, you are usually 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

  • As housing for exchange students, in addition to school dormitories, there are dormitories for foreign exchange students operated by the national and local governments, and private organizations.
  • The International Student Support Corporation Cooperation Promotion Association 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 service companies available in Japan. If you plan to use their services, it is better to obtain an estimate of the 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 water services
  • Telephone companies
  • Post office
  • Bank and other financial institutes you use
  • School (if your child transfers from a public elementary/junior high school)
  • Municipal office (city hall): submit a move-out notification to the municipal office in the ward (or city, town or village) where you reside and receive a move-out certificate. You may also need to return certain items such as your personal seal registration card (inkan toroku-sho), national health insurance certificate (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:

  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water, telephone, etc.,): for gas, you need to make an advance appointment and will have to be present when someone from the gas company comes to your new home to start the gas supply. You may be able to use electricity and water services immediately after moving and need only to fill out and mail a provided moving-in notice.
  • School transfer (if your child transfers to a public elementary/junior high school)
  • Moving-in notification: bring the move-out certificate you have received from your previous address along with your identification to the municipal office of your new address and submit a moving-in notification within 14 days from the date of moving. If you wish to enroll in national health insurance (kokumin kenko hoken) or national pension (kokumin nenkin) schemes, you can also submit the application forms.
  • Resident card (the change of address must be reported within 14 days from the date of moving in)
  • Personal seal registration (inkan toroku)
  • Driver's license (address change procedure)
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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