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  • Writer's pictureKomaba Times

Gaijin in Japan - Tips for Housing in Japan


Realtor at Shimokitazawa station. Photo by author.

For most of the students who become students at the University of Tokyo, they start their first Japan housing in international lodges provided by the University. However, some students need to leave the dormitory because they are not guaranteed their residence in the dorm for four years. If international students plan to live in Japan for more than two years, housing contract other than university dormitory is necessary. It is considerably more burdensome for foreigners who do not have enough information about housing in Japan. For those who are interested in finding their first house in Japan, I would like to introduce a few tips.

Realtor at Shimokitazawa station. Photo by author.

Types of House in Japan

  • Apartment: multi-household house mostly made of wood. As apartments are made of wood, the rent is low. It is significantly more vulnerable than a house made of concrete in terms of soundproofing and security because many apartments are old.

  • Mansion: Unlike a large house is called mansion in the West, high-rise apartments are called mansion in Japan. Rodent problem is also better than that of apartments because mansions are made of concrete.

Where to Look for a House

1. Local Housing

- Realtor: Usually, people use local realtors when they want to rent. Because monthly rent is most reliable in Japan, real estate properties are very active. Residents need to pay the brokerage fee, but this is most convenient way to get rent since there is certain support from realtor. Sometimes owners do not rent to foreigners because foreigners can have visa problem while having two year housing contract. (*When a foreigner rents a house, a Japanese person must be a guarantor. Otherwise, realtors introduce residents a guarantor company.)

- Realtor from your home country: There are high possibilities that there would be realtor from your home country. It is most comfortable choice for foreigners who cannot speak Japanese but want to circumvent complicated procedures in getting housing in Japan.

2. Online Housing Site

However, it is not possible to look for local realtor one by one. If residents do not want a particular area, it is convenient to browse the house by using internet. Suumo (, homes (, Chintai ( are some of the major online housing information sites in Japan. The site is in Japanese, so you may have to use a translator. If you enter the desired price range, house structure, area, etc. in the site, you will get a list. The contact information of the real estate agent in charge is also listed. After contacting the agent, you would need to bring friend who can speak Japanese. Also, University of Tokyo Housing Office for international students and researchers helps you with language problem.

3. Leopalace

Leopalace targets foreigners who want to find their housing in Japan. From monthly plans to two year contracts, renters do not need a Japanese guarantor. However, comparatively, housing price is higher than that of homes (Japanese)

Realtor at Shimokitazawa station. Photo by author.

All the Housing Costs in Japan

  • 家賃 (‘yachin,’ rental fee): Japanese word for rental fee. (Sometimes includes maintenance costs & common area charge)

  • 敷金 (‘shikikin,’ security deposit): for the purpose to repair the house in the circumstances that resident breaks something. Usually, residents charge once or twice the monthly rental fee for security deposit. When the residents finish the contract and leave the house, owner subtracts the cleaning fee and gives the remainder back.

  • 礼金 (‘reikin,’ manner deposit): residents need to submit once or twice the monthly rental fee for expressing gratitude to house owner. Unlike security deposit, residents do not get a refund of this deposit even if they finish the contract.

  • 管理費 (‘kanrihi,’ maintenance fee): monthly charge made for maintenance on a property.

  • 仲介手数料 (‘chuukai tesuuryou,’ brokerage fee): residents need to pay a commission to realtors.

  • 更新料 (‘koushinryou,’ renewal fee): renewal fee for continuing the housing contract after the completion of the first contract.

  • 連帯保証人(‘rentai hoshounin,’ guarantor): to certify the identification of the residents, residents need to have a Japanese guarantor who works in Japan. If not, you can use a guarantor company to serve as your guarantor.

As explained above, the initial cost of renting a house in Japan is often about four or five times the monthly rent. If monthly rent is 50,000 yen, you need an initial payment of about 200,000 yen to 250,000 yen. The contract period is usually two years, but this contract period is not a mandatory period. It does not matter if you move without having completed two years. However, it is customary to inform the owner about a month before moving. Or else, you may not receive any of the security deposit.

It sounds considerably difficult, but don’t worry, we all have all gone through this. There are more methods than I introduced above. Home-sharing houses, share houses, private dormitories (unaffiliated with universities) are suggestions for avoiding these troublesome costs above and they are completely open for you. University of Tokyo also supports you in language problem and guarantor system for foreigners. By reading this article and getting interest, you are already ready to start.


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