How To Rent An Apartment In Tokyo 2020 | Find The Best Place To Live In Tokyo!

Moving to Tokyo, Japan? Read on to find out how to rent an apartment in Tokyo so you get the best apartment in Tokyo for the best price!

Your apartment search in Tokyo just got easier, especially for foreigners. Now, let’s be real renting an apartment in Tokyo is not cheap. So keep a realistic budget, especially if you’re looking for a decently-sized apartment. And plus, you have a list of initial moving-in expenses like agent’s fee, key money (more on that later), deposit, guarantor fee (if you don’t have a Japanese friend/kin to vouch for your reliability), cleaning fee, insurance, etc.. etc.. etc..

We’ll discuss all these fees’ in detail in a short while. But all these initial expenses will total up to about 6 times your monthly rent. 

How do I find an apartment in Tokyo?

You can find an apartment in Tokyo through a real estate agency, though a real estate agent’s fee is usually about one month’s rent. Other than that, you can also find an apartment in Tokyo through sites like www.gaijinpot.com, that offers services and information any foreigner coming to Japan would need! 

For short term stay in Japan, you can also rent share houses like Sakura house or through Urban Renaissance agency, if you’re looking to rent a place in Tokyo for cheap. 

Renting An Apartment In Tokyo

Rent Tokyo Apartments For Long Term

How To Rent An Apartment In Tokyo

Renting an apartment in Tokyo for the long term is no joke. It’s a lengthy process so it’s best you start behind the scenes work at least 2 months prior to moving to Tokyo. Before you find a real estate agent for yourself, decide which area you’d like to rent an apartment in Tokyo. After which you can contact a few local real estate agents in that area. 

Try and work with at least 2-3 local real estate agents so that you can compare prices and settle for the best price. 

Also, renting an apartment in Tokyo is not cheap! There’s quite a bit of cash you need to pay upfront when you move in. Also, most real estate agents will set your rent not more than 30% of your total income. So, say, for example, you want to rent an apartment in Tokyo whose monthly rent is 80,000 JPY then you’ll have to prove that your monthly income is about 280,000 JPY. This is basically to ensure that you can afford the apartment you want to rent. 

Now let’s look at the different fees involved that you may have to pay upfront other than the rent. 

Again, assuming your monthly income is 280,000 JPY – 

Deposit is usually 1-2 months rent; 

Key money is given to the landlord as ‘thank you’ money when moving in, which is also about 1 month’s rent;

The agent fee will cost you about a month’s rent as well. 

Guarantor fee will cost you about one month’s fee too plus annual renewal charges are around 10,000 JPY but this depends on the agency. 

You can skip the guarantor fee if you have a Japanese friend or family member living in Japan who vouch for your reliability – the only condition is that your monthly rent should not exceed 30% of the guarantor’s monthly income. 

The fee to pay upfront (other than rent) when moving into Tokyo apartment initially: 

If rent = JPY 80,000 

Deposit: Rent x 2 = JPY 160,000

Key Money: Rent x 2 = JPY 160,000

Agency Fee: JPY 80,000

Guarantor Fee: JPY 80,000

Insurance, cleaning, lock change: ~ JPY 60,000 

Total = About JPY 540,000

Don’t lose hope though, there’s always some room for negotiation. Key money and other fees like cleaning fees, lock change, etc can be negotiated. Especially, if you move during the off-season, i.e, months others April and October. 

On average, it’s best to keep aside about 6-7 months of rent to upfront when you move into a new apartment in Tokyo! 

On a monthly basis, you also may have to pay a maintenance fee along with your rent. The maintenance fee is usually around JPY 3000 – JPY 9,000. 

What You Need To Rent An Apartment In Tokyo

I know it’s exciting moving to Tokyo and looking for an apartment for yourself or your family. But there are a few things you need to keep ready before you begin your Tokyo apartment search so that the entire process becomes just a bit easier. 

#1 — Money

tokyo housing

And a whole lot of it! As I already mentioned the different setup costs, you’ll have to keep aside at least 6-7 month’s rent to pay upfront. 

#2 — A real-estate agent

serviced apartments tokyo

To find the most relevant agent, it’s best to first decide which area in Tokyo you’d like to move into. After this, you can get in touch with a local real estate agent. Make sure that you have a checklist with all your requirements ready so you can share that with your agent. Your agent will then discuss available listings that match your requirements and take you along for viewings.

If you don’t know Japanese, it’s best to take a friend who can help translate for you. But many agencies do have English-speaking agents, so if you especially request one, you might just find one! And believe me, that’ll make things a whole lot easier for you! 

However, another way to go is to look at listings online and short-list the ones you like. In this case, though, you’ll be working with multiple agents but you’ll pay the one with whom you settle the final contract. GainjinPot is one of the best sites to find foreigner-friendly apartments in Tokyo!

#3 — A Japan SIM Card and number: 

japanese apartments

In the world of Japan’s real estate, things move pretty quickly. So it’s best to have a Japanese phone number so your agent can reach you at all times. But if you’re applying from outside of Japan then an international number should also be fine. 

#4 — Visa/Residence Card/Student ID and Passport

tokyo apartments for rent long term

If you want to rent an apartment in Tokyo, you must provide two official ID proof – one is your passport and the second one could be your visa, residence card, or Student ID.

For short-term travel to Japan, you cannot sign a long-term contract to rent an apartment in Tokyo. If you’re on a short visit to Tokyo and want to rent a place in Tokyo to stay then you have other cheaper and easier options. More on that below!

#5 — Employer Letter 

Or any papers that state the purpose of your stay in Japan. You probably used these papers for your visa application as well. It could be a letter of employment, invitation letter, etc. 

#6 — Japanese Bank Account 

Technically speaking, you won’t need a Japanese bank account immediately when you start looking for an apartment in Tokyo. But rather, you’ll eventually need a Japanese bank account to transfer the rent to your landlord later on. So it’s best to start this process as well. To pay initial costs, you can do so via an international bank account, credit card or some agents may even accept the amount in cash. 

#7 — Bank Statement Or Recent Pay Slips Copy 

Your rent will be set to around 30% of your monthly salary and not more. So in order to prove that you can pay this amount, consistently, you have to show your bank statement of 3 consecutive months or payslips. Or your bank book in case you’re unemployed. 

#8 — Guarantor

A guarantor is someone who can vouch for your reliability. Basically, they’ll be held accountable in case you’re not able to pay the rent. 

Here you have two options: If you have a local Japanese friend or family member who can vouch for you then you can list them as your guarantor, if not you’ll have to turn to a guarantor company (your agent will help you find one). But this will charge you (obviously). 

The guarantor’s fee is usually one month’s rent and an annual renewal fee. Other than this, your company or university may also act as your guarantor for free (or for a small price). 

Hiring a guarantor company is becoming more popular in Japan, at least amongst the locals here, since nobody wants to burden someone else with that responsibility. 

#9 — Local Emergency Contact

You have to list a local emergency contact who the landlord will hold accountable for in case you leave without saying sayonara. This local emergency contact will then have to deal with all the problems you’ve left behind. You can see why no local Japanese will agree to do this for you unless you’re best friends or direct family. 

But don’t worry your company may agree to be listed as your emergency contact since organizations in Japan look at their employees as their responsibility. However, some agents will also allow you to list a non-Japanese emergency contact as well. 

#10 — Character Reference 

Almost always your domestic emergency contact will also be your character reference. And if you’re a foreigner trying to rent an apartment in Tokyo then it’s best you have a Japanese as your character reference. A character reference basically vouches for your character – that you’ll be a well-behaved tenant. 

Tokyo House Rent: Prices

If you’re not sure which area in Tokyo you want to rent an apartment in, here’s a quick guide listing average rent prices of different neighborhoods in Tokyo. Before that let’s get familiar with some lingo: 

LDK = Living, Dining, and Kitchen. The number that’s mentioned before LDK refers to the number of rooms. For example, 1LDK = 1 room, living, dining, and kitchen. 

1K = 1 room + kitchen 

1DK = 1 room + dining + kitchen

2LDK = 2 rooms + living + dining + kitchen 

urban renaissance agency

The size of an apartment in Japan is measured in terms of ‘jo’. This unit is based on how many tatami mats can fit the floor of your apartment. Ask your agent for the exact size. 

Tokyo is one of the most expensive places to rent an apartment. Wards like Chiyoda, Shibuya, Minato, Chuo, and Shinjuku are the most expensive neighborhoods to rent an apartment since they’re at the center of the city. 

WardAverage Cost Per monthAverage Cost Per monthAverage Cost Per monthAverage Cost Per monthAverage Cost Per monthAverage Cost Per month
1R1K2K2DK1DK1LDK
Shinjuku97,300105,50097,700145,700142,000235,800
Chuo124,100111,000120,300158,200163,200231,700
Meguro105,400111,600108,600141,700155,400209,000
Minato132,300117,500149,400150,000177,200293,400
Shibuya117,000119,100114,300156,600146,700226,200
Chiyoda130,600123,800137,000175,000162,800234,400

One room rent in Tokyo in the Shinjuku ward is 97,300 and in Minato is 132,300 – being the most expensive. 2 bedroom apartments in Tokyo rent with dining and kitchen in the same wards are 145,700 and 175,000, respectively. 

tokyo rent map

The further away you go from the center of Tokyo, you’ll find that the is lesser. For example, in Wards like Kita, Arakawa, and Suginami the average cost for 1R is about 70,000 – 80,000   

WardAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per month
1R1K2K2DK1DK1LDK
Suginami69,90081,500100,200113,10087,000132,700
Kita74,90082,00083,600110,600117,900157,800
Arakawa71,90083,70081,100100,200102,800126,100
Ota75,50084,20088,600117,200101,800138,400
Setagaya80,10086,90099,000137,700127,000163,500

Wards that are still further away, the most outer-laying wards of Tokyo, like Adachi, Katsushika, and Edogawa have the cheapest rent compared to all of Tokyo. The average rent for 1R in these wards is about 60,000 to 65,000. 

WardAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per monthAvg Cost Per month
1R1K2K2DK1DK1LDK
Edogawa61,20068,30072,40089,80075,200110,200
Katsushika59,40069,20067,60085,10087,90095,700
Adachi63,60070,50065,60091,50077,100106,500

Rent A House In Japan For A Month

For short-term stay in Tokyo, it doesn’t make sense for you to sign a two-year contract. You have several options that are cheap and you’ll find that it is well within your budget for short-term stays. Also, these options don’t require you to pay key money, huge deposit, etc. Plus, you don’t need to worry about a guarantor either!

Sites like MetroResidences can help you find a serviced apartment. Or there’s the Urban Renaissance agency that will make your life so much easier without charging you all that extra fee. 

You can even opt for share houses through Sakura house that charges no hidden fees and offers fully-furnished apartments. 

Rent Serviced Apartments In Tokyo

tokyo apartments for rent cheap

Renting a serviced apartment in Tokyo is the best option for a short-term stay in Tokyo. All you need is your passport, about a month’s deposit fee which will be returned in 15 days. There are no hidden fees and everything is included in your rent. And the contract can be set from 1-12 months depending on your requirement! Check out MetroResidences to find yourself a serviced apartment in Tokyo! 

Rent Through Urban Renaissance Agency

If you opt for UR housing, you’ll be happy to know that there are no key money or renewal fees charged. Also, you don’t need a guarantor. However, you still have to pay a deposit of about 1-3 months’ rent. But the main thing is that all those extra fees are absent. You can check their listing here!

Rent A Share House In Tokyo

cheap house in japan

Share houses are definitely one of the most fun places to stay during your time in Tokyo. Think of it as a hostel. Sakura house is one of the most popular share houses in Tokyo, Japan. And it’s for foreigners only.

tokyo house rent prices

No key money, guarantor fee, or agent fee required. Like every other housing option, you do have to pay a deposit of about 20,000. Check it out here! 

american area of tokyo

Cheap Tokyo Apartments For Rent

tokyo apartments minato ku

You can find cheaper apartments for rent in Tokyo towards the outer-lying wards of Tokyo and if you don’t mind a small commute to the train station, renting an apartment at least 10 minutes away from the station will prove to be cheaper even in the central wards of Tokyo. 

Where can I find cheap apartments in Tokyo?

Adachi, Katsushika, and Edogawa wards have the cheapest apartments in Tokyo. Plus, renting serviced apartments through sites like MetroResidences, or renting apartments through UR Housing, or opting for a share house like Sakura house will prove to be much cheaper as there’s no key money, agent fee, renewal fee involved in these options. 

Also, if you don’t mind living with Casper – the friendly ghost, then let your agent know that you’re open to viewing Jiko Bukken houses as well. They are fully-renovated and much cheaper! 

What are Jiko Bukken houses? 

monthly rental tokyo

Jiko Bukken houses are basically houses whose former owner died in the house due to unnatural causes. And according to Japan law, real estate must let you know that you’re viewing a Jiko Bukken house.

Jiko Bukken houses are rented out for much cheaper (thanks Casper!) and they are fully renovated so the house looks more attractive! (I mean it’s a win-win situation, as long as you don’t mind some friendly spirits) 

Apartments For Rent In Japan For Foreigners: FAQs

#1 — How much is a small apartment in Tokyo?

A small apartment in Tokyo for rent can be anywhere between JPY 60,000 to JPY 140,000, depending on which ward you’re viewing the apartment. Apartments in Wards like Edogawa, Katsushika, and Adachi have the lowest prices whereas central wards like Chiyoda, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Chuo, and Minato have the most expensive apartments. 

#2 — What is UR housing in Japan

UR housing offers apartments for rent in Tokyo and is foreigner-friendly. The UR is short for Urban Renaissance. You can rent an apartment through UR housing irrespective of your nationality. And there are no hidden fees involved when renting a place UR housing. 

#3 — Can a foreigner rent an apartment in Japan?

A foreigner can rent an apartment in Japan through real estate agents, though this is a lengthy and tiresome process. But more popular options among foreigners to rent an apartment in Japan are serviced apartments through MetroResidences, rent apartment with UR housing, or rent a share house through SakuraHouse. 

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