How to find an apartment in japan

How to find an apartment in japan

Japan is one of the most urbanized societies in the world, but even locals in the know can find it a challenge to rent an apartment in the country. A unique system of perplexing rules and a load of specific fees can make it difficult to smoothly secure the keys to your dream apartment. Here is a comprehensive guide to renting an apartment in Japan.

Types of apartment

Apartments vary in size from 2 DK to 4 LDK with the abbreviations L, D, K standing for Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen, and the number representing how many bedrooms or other rooms the apartment contains. The size of rooms is usually denoted in tatami, so a six-jo room is a room with six tatami mats (one tatami mat is approximately 1.8m x 0.9m = 1.62m²).

How to find an apartment in japan

Access to transport

Japan has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, so being close to a train station is an important consideration when renting. Most apartment listings will let you know how far the apartment is from the nearest train station by foot or bus.

How to find an apartment in japan

Real estate agents

Most apartments in Japan are usually rented through a real estate agent who typically have offices located near train stations. Apartment listings are usually shown in the shop window as well as advertised in various publications and websites. Some nationwide agencies include Able and

The contract

Apartment contracts are usually for a minimum of two years in Japan. It is easy to break an apartment contract as long as two month’s notice is given in advance. Apartments typically come unfurnished with utilities not included in the rent.

How to find an apartment in japan

The guarantor

Most landlords in Japan are reluctant to rent their apartments to foreigners due to such things as language barriers and financial concerns, so many real estate agents require you to have a guarantor. The guarantor basically acts as a security measure, co-signing the rental contract along with the tenant and agreeing to pay for unpaid rent or damage to the apartment if the tenant fails to pay. The guarantor must be a Japanese national with stable employment and a good financial history.

Proof of identity

To rent an apartment in Japan you will need to provide two official forms of identification. In most cases this is your passport and residence card which shows your visa status.

How to find an apartment in japan

Rent is paid on a monthly basis and varies depending on the location and size of the apartment.

Other Fees

Expect to pay quite a hefty amount in upfront costs which includes a lot of little fees and services only to be found in Japan. These fees and services include:

Deposit (one to three month’s rent to cover future damage to the apartment)

Key Money or Gift Money (typically one to three month’s rent which is non-refundable)

Real Estate Agency Commission Fee (typically one month’s rent)

Property Insurance (required to rent an apartment in Japan)

Annual Maintenance Fee

Key Exchange Fee

How to find an apartment in japan

Gaijin Houses

Gaijin Houses, or Guest Houses, are companies that provide furnished accommodation to foreigners in Japan. They can be really useful and convenient as they eliminate the need to find a guarantor as well as having no requiement for key money. Many Gaijin Houses have shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms, and have a social atmosphere similar to a college dormitory.

Where to find listings online

The best place to find listings online is at websites such as Suumo, HOME’S and CHINTAI.

How to find an apartment in japan

Apartments are usually rented through real estate agents rather than landlords. Real estate offices can be recognized by listings of available apartments in their show windows. They also advertise on signs in the neighborhood and in various publications.

Conventional real estate companies

The rental system of many conventional real estate companies is not very foreigner friendly.

Apartments are usually rented for a minimum of two years, which conflicts with the fact that many foreigners stay in Japan for less than two years.

Furthermore, most landlords are naturally reluctant to rent their apartments to foreigners who are not able to communicate in Japanese. Some of them will even categorically refuse their service to non-permanent residents out of fear of frictions.

Many agents also require you to provide them with information about your financial background and to have a guarantor co-sign the rental contract as another security measure. Certain conditions apply as who can serve as your guarantor. It must usually be a Japanese national with a stable financial background.

Not at last, entering a rental contract with a conventional real estate company is very expensive. A number of refundable and non-refundable fees have to be paid, often totaling two or more months’ rent, depending on the company and apartment:

  • Reservation fee (tetsukekin)
    The tetsukekin is paid when you apply for an apartment, and before the actual rental contract is signed. It serves as a guarantee for you that the apartment is not given to somebody else, and for the agent that you do not change your mind. It is refunded after the actual contract is signed and is usually equivalent to about one month’s rent.
  • Deposit (shikikin)
    The deposit is used to cover eventual future damage to the apartment. The deposit minus the cost for repairs is refunded when you move out. The deposit is usually equivalent to several months’ rent.
  • Key money (reikin)
    This is a non refundable payment to the landlord in the amount of up to several months’ rent.
  • Service fee (chukai tesuryo)
    This is a non refundable payment to the real estate agent in the amount of at most one month’s rent.

In most cases, apartments come unfurnished, utilities are not included in the rent. Pets may or may not be allowed.

Real estate companies for foreigners

Real estate companies, which specifically target Japan’s foreign community, exist mainly in Tokyo and other large metropolitan areas. They offer private and shared apartments for conditions that are much more suitable to the needs of foreigners, and often have staff trained in foreign languages.

For example, they offer rental contracts for much shorter time periods and lower and fewer initial fees than conventional companies. In addition, their apartments are often already furnished, and the cost for utilities may be included in the monthly rent.

Many real estate companies for foreigners operate so called gaijin houses (“foreigner houses”), a very inexpensive type of accommodation, while others target individuals and businesses on larger budgets and with higher requirements.

How to find an apartment in japan

Japan is a country in Asia. The largest cities are Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka.

Below is a selection of the best resources for searching for an apartment in Japan.

Japan Apartment Search Engines

When I’m looking for an apartment abroad, I normally like to start with the country-specific apartment search engines and portals. Here are the most popular ones.

  • At Home: One of the most popular sites to search for apartments in Japan.
  • Tokyo Apartments: Tokyo Apartments is a good one stop shop for different types of apartments in Japan.
  • Oakhouse: If you are looking for a fully furnished apartment, be sure to check out Oakhouse. You can stay for as little as one month.
  • Real Estate Japan: Real Estate Japan is in English making it easy to use for you English speakers out there.

Classifieds and Real Estate Agents

You can often find some hidden gems if you dig through the classifieds and real estate agent listings.

  • Craigslist: Pioneers in the internet classifieds space. These guys have tons of Tokyo apartment options that are updated daily. Craigslist is the first place I would check after testing out the Japan-specific search engines.
  • Metropolis: Metropolis is the leading English magazine in Japan. Click through the link to go to their classifieds.
  • Tokyo Notice Board: Tokyo Notice Board is specifically targeted to English speakers. They have a section on housing.

General Apartment and Housing Search Engines

If you have already exhausted your options above, check out the general apartment and housing search engines below.

  • Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor is a great destination for vacation rentals. Search around this site to see what you come up with.
  • A giant in the vacation rental space with properties featured in countries around the world.
  • Airbnb: Airbnb has properties displayed for over 185 countries. You can often get some pretty good deals for short term rentals.

Useful Articles and Blog Posts

Check out the useful articles and blog posts below for more information to help you with your apartment search.

  • Japan Guide: Japan Guide is awesome when it comes to detailed information for foreigners looking at starting a life in Japan. Check out this article.
  • Just Landed: Just Landed has brief but useful information on housing in Japan, including rental contracts, gas, water, electricity, and student housing.

There you have it. The best places for finding an apartment in Japan. If you are interested in working in this country, be sure to check out my article on how to find a job in Japan as a foreigner. If you are single and are looking to spice up your dating life, check out my reviews of the best dating sites in Japan. Enjoy your stay!

Further Reading

Worldwide Moving Guide: Everything you need to know in order to plan your move to 65+ countries around the world.

Worldwide Apartments Guide: If you are interested in renting an apartment in another country, take a look at my articles on how to find an apartment in various countries around the world.

Worldwide Jobs Guide: Be sure to check out my posts on how to find jobs in any country in the world.

Worldwide Dating Guide: Also, check out my posts on the best online dating sites in 60+ countries around the world.

About Addison Sears-Collins

Hey! I’m Addison Sears-Collins, the founder of Visa Hunter. You can learn more about me here. Connect with me by liking my fan page on Facebook, connecting with me on Twitter, or check out my website Automatic Addison where I build robots and embedded systems.

Website available in multiple languages

The services is available in 7 languages, so it’s easy to search for an apartment even if you don’t speak or read Japanese.

Plenty of apartments for foreigners are posted.

This website is designed especially for foreigners. We post a lot of information on apartments available for foreigners here.

Multi-lingual staff available at all times.

The staff here are from different countries, so we can help you even if you cannot speak Japanese!

Overseas Application and Contract

You can view, apply, and sign a contract online from overseas! You can even move in right after you arrive in Japan.

Housing Available for Minors

There is housing available for minors too!

Short stay is OK

There are properties with no contract termination penalties.

Tips and Information about Apartment Hunting in Japan

About initial contract fees such as deposit and key money

Deposit is paid to the landlord as insurance in unpredictable cases and it will be used to cover delayed rent, damage repairs, and so on. The deposit is supposed to be returned to the tenant at the end of the contract, however, if there is any damage beyond normal wear-and-tear, the balance will be returned to the tenant after the restoration fee is deducted. In most cases, the tenant shall be responsible for the basic cleaning fee, so it is unlikely to receive back the deposit in full amount. It is recommended that tenants use the apartment neatly so there will be less to pay, and more amount returning when moving out. Deposit is usually equal to 1 to 2 months of rent in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is paid at the time of signing the contract. Here are some things you need to be careful to get more deposit back at the end of the contract: -Do not smoke indoors. -Clean the room regularly. -Do not use pins or nails to hang things on the wall. -Do not damage the floor or the walls. -Remove the oil stains in the kitchen frequently. Any other damages and stains that require extra repair may be charged upon moving out. Please make sure to use the room neatly.

What are joint guarantor and guarantor company?

The landlords must avoid the risk of unpaid rent in case the tenant loses the ability to pay due to unemployment, illness, or loss of contact with the tenant. Therefore a joint guarantor is required when renting an apartment in Japan. Legally, the responsibility of a joint guarantor is as strong as the contractor. In most cases, a family member becomes one’s joint guarantor.

Important points when looking for a room

Monthly rent budget It is best to set your monthly rent budget to 25-30% of your monthly income. -Initial cost Normally, moving in costs 4-6 months’ worth of rent. If you cannot provide as much initial cost, try looking for apartments without deposits or key money.

What you need for application and contract

Personal identification card Passport, residence card, student card, insurance card, etc. -Joint guarantor or guarantor company (1) When there is a joint guarantor A joint guarantor must be a Japanese person with a stable income. You are required to give personal information such as their name, address, date of birth, contact information, income, work information. (2) When using a guarantor company When using a guarantor company, you are required to give emergency contact information. This includes their name, address, date of birth, and contact information. (Depending on the guarantor company and the type of plan you use, you may be asked to pay 50-100% of your monthly rent as your initial cost.)

How to activate electricity service and precautions

In Japan, electricity services are provided through private businesses. Thus, when you move to a new area, you must register with the electricity company in your respective area (Ex: in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Tokyo Electric Power Company). You can register online or make a phone call. GTN can also register on behalf of you if you need assistance.

How to activate gas and precautions

In Japan, there are two types of gas, city gas and propane gas, both provided through private businesses. To activate gas, you must register with the gas company respective to your new area, just like activating your electricity (for residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Tokyo Gas). You can call to register or apply online. After registration, a staff member will come to your new apartment and will activate your gas. You must be present for this procedure for safety.

The general process for finding a rental is as follows: Make an appointment with a real estate agency.Find possible rentals.Actually view the rentals and sign a rental contract when you find a place you like.Move in. The process may take 1–2 weeks or several months to complete. You may not be able to immediately move in to some places, so be sure to check possible moving dates prior to concluding the contract.

A real estate agency acts as an intermediary between you and the real estate owner when looking for a rental. It tells you about properties which meet your budget and needs, and serves as the contact point when entering into a rental contract. First, make an appointment with a real estate agency by email or phone. When you do, inform the agency of the date you wish to move in, your budget, and your needs so they can search for a suitable place at the outset and make the process smoother. If you don’t have confidence in your Japanese language abilities, then search for “Real Estate Agencies with Foreign-language Services” from the SUUMO contents below.

How to find an apartment in japan

A real estate agency handles information on a variety of rental properties. Tell the agency about your needs, including your budget, preffered area, floor plan, and amount of space required, and they will select several properties that suit your needs from their large database. Though you may not find the exact property for which you are looking, at this stage it is important to precisely and fully communicate your preferences. If you find a place you like, then actually go to the building or rental property. Look at several that seem appropriate and narrow your choices from there.

Incidentally, you may be surprised at the high rental prices in the city center, but be aware that obtaining a rent lower than what was advertised is fundamentally difficult in Japan.

How to find an apartment in japan

When you’ve finally found what you want, then you will sign a contract. In Japan, in addition to the rent, initial fees include a security deposit and key money (details are found on the following page), so you will need a sizeable sum of money at first. Also, in the majority of cases you will need a Japanese guarantor to co-sign when signing the contract. When the person who signs the contract is unable to pay the rent due to reasons such as illness or unemployment, the guarantor must pay in his or her stead. Talk with the real estate agency if there is no one you can ask to co-sign. You may be able to contract with an agency that will serve as guarantor.

Carefully check the contract when signing. You should be aware of all restrictions placed on each property, such as rules against pets, more than two persons residing in a property, musical instruments, etc. If you are not confident in your Japanese language abilities, then it is best to have a Japanese acquaintance accompany you if possible to prevent any later problems.

How to find an apartment in japan

When the contract has been completed, get in touch with a moving company and prepare to move in, and contact the real estate agency after the moving date has been set.

Generally, services such as electricity, gas, water, and telephone are initially disconnected in properties. When moving in, the first priority is to call the utility companies to get them connected (by the way, electricity, gas, and water are all provided for a fee in Japan). Then, go to the city office and submit a change of address. Also, be sure to carefully check which days trash is collected and the rules for separating trash, which differ according to area. Not abiding by rules causes trouble.

Introducing yourself to the maintenance staff or owner when they live nearby is an important custom to observe. If possible, you should bring a gift to make a favorable impression and pave the way for asking them for help if problems arise.

Whether you are here for work or as a student, acquiring a room for yourself is crucial in starting a new life in Japan.Coming to Japan, a foreign country and finding a room to rent has its challenges. The language barrier being one, but there are also many different policies, traditions and manners to consider.
Here, we will explain in depth the flow of things from looking for the place to securing it, as well as the various types of expenses that will result in the process.

STEP1. Search for your desired Apartment or Condo.

When using please look for buildings based on area, budget and layout of your preference.

Many real estate companies that own foreigner friendly mansions and apartments in areas such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Nagoya and much more have their building information listed on our website. If you are unfamiliar with the location in Japan, they will pick up several buildings out from the extensive database that match your preferred conditions, so please inquire to the real estate companies from our website.

STEP2. Previewing your desired Apartment.

Location and the environment surrounding it, distance from station, whether the sunlight shines in the area or not, distance from convenience stores/restaurants/supermarkets, there must be many things you would like to confirm beforehand. You are of course welcome to come see the building.

STEP3. Applying for rental properties

Because the amount of foreigner friendly apartments still fall short to normal apartments, the ones with favourable conditions are usually rented very quickly, so if you find one that meets your needs, we advise that you apply as soon as possible.

STEP4. Screening of Application

Before the contract is made, the owner and management company will examine whether you are eligible to rent the property.

Screening details

The screening mainly consists of your occupation, income and VISA expiration date. If you have a joint guarantor or are using a guarantor company, the person listed as emergency contact will be contacted for confirmation.
Depending on owner or management company, there may be cases where you are required to take a language proficiency test.

Also, usually when renting a house in Japan a joint guarantor is required. However, securing a joint guarantor is very difficult for foreigners. If there are no suitable people near you, it is also possible to contract with a guarantor company, so if that is the case please take this up with the real estate companies.

Documents needed:

Foreigner residence card, passport
Certification of employment, student ID, income tax slip, payment slip

STEP5. Contract with rental property

Once the screening process is finished, you sign the rental document and the contract is completed.

Expenses that result upon signing contract


It is basically a deposit fee that you pay the owner for a certain period of time, and most of the time it is set to 1-2 month’s rent worth. Unlike the gift money, the deposit is returned to you upon departure, but if something is either broken or dirtied, then most of it does not come back.


About 1-2 month’s rent worth that is paid to the owner as a token of appreciation, this is unique to Japan, although nowadays there are many apartments that do not require this. Gift money is not returned upon departure.


Fee that is paid to the agencies that generally take care of communication regarding contract. By law, the maximum price of this fee is 1 month’s rent worth. In some cases it is half a month or free.


The first rent you pay upon signing contract. The amount is subject to change as it is broken down on a daily basis from the day the contract is signed to the first rent pay date.


Fee paid for insurance admission in preparation for fires or any natural disasters. In some cases the admission is compulsory.


If you cannot find yourself a joint guarantor, you will require the services of a surety company that acts as a guarantor on your behalf. The payment is not monthly but rather one time, and the fee is usually half to one month’s rent worth.

Expenses that result every month

Payment methods vary from bank transfers, convenient stores to automatic bank deductions. Credit card payment is not accepted most of the time.


Fees paid to maintain building repair costs. Some buildings are free, while others cost approximately 10000 to 20000 yen a month.

STEP6. Moving into your rental property.

Accept the key, and all that remains is moving in.
Please confirm with the real estate company you contracted with regarding gas, water, electricity and internet start up procedures.
Once you have completed the move in process, your new life in Japan has officially begun!

How to find an apartment in japan

Receiving an apartment in Japan as a foreigner can be very difficult if you do not have the proper guidance or know how. There are many things that you should know before you start to hunt for your new apartment. Here are to top 10 reasons why it’s difficult for foreigners to receive apartments in Japan.

1. Owners

The number one reason why it is difficult for foreigners to rent in Japan. Is that owners or management companies do not allow foreigners into their properties. Some realtors will tell you that only 10-20% of apartments in Japan will allow foreigners. However this percentage is just a guess with the population and language levels both also being a factor. For example if you are looking in central Tokyo and can read, wright and speak Japanese well the percentage goes up.

2. Cosigner

More than half of the apartments in Japan require a guarantor which is a cosigner. A guarantor in Japan must be a Japanese citizen and is willing to take responsibility for the rent to be paid. Most Japanese will rely on their parents to be their guarantor. This can be very difficult for a foreigner however to find somebody willing to take this huge responsibility for them. Learn more by visiting our article on guarantors.

3. Language Barrier

Language can also be an issue. If an owner or management company feels language will be an issue they will be more hesitant to accept your application. However most apartments that allows foreigners will let your emergency contact help you through this issue.

4. Painting Us with The Same Brush

Some owners and management companies have experience with foreigners leaving the country without paying off what they owe. This can result with them painting us with the same brush. Meaning that they put most or all foreigners in the same category without seeing us as individuals.

5. The Rules

Another reason it’s more difficult for foreigners to receive apartments in Japan. Is that owners feel that foreigners will not follow the rules. Some people have not been properly explained the rules to them. For example trash pick up and so on. This results in the owners considering the other tenants that live there and what they think. Not being accepted for this reasons is a bit of a rare thing in urban areas but it can still happen. Again this is something that they paint us with the same brush and is considered not fare as an individual.

How to find an apartment in japan

6. Realtors

If you go through a normal Japanese realtor and not a foreigner friendly one. It is possible that you can be denied service or treated unfairly. Walking into a realtor shop and being denied service is not uncommon. The main reason for this is that it is more difficult to find apartments for foreigners. Especially if they have little experience in doing so. Also if you have not done your homework or are inexperienced in receiving an apartment in Japan. If the realtor is not honest it is much easier for them to hide fees form the initial payment.

7. Initial Cost

The average initial cost in Japan is five times the rent. The most hated fee would be key money. Most people consider this to be overwhelming and a bit ridiculous. However it is possible to find apartments with a more affordable initial payment.

8. The process

The process of receiving an apartment in Japan can be very difficult and confusing if you do not have the proper guidance. It’s not Just finding an apartment and signing the contract. The whole process usually takes one week from signing an application to receiving your keys. In some cases it will take up to 10 days or more. To apply for an apartment you will need a residence card and a Japanese phone number. Also in some cases you will have to see the property in person before applying for it.

How to find an apartment in japan

9. Holiday Visas

If you came here on a holiday visa and it is limited to one year without renewal. It will be much more difficult for you. The reason is usually once you found an apartment your visa will not be for a full year anymore. Because it is impossible to stay there for a complete year. It will be more difficult to be accepted. However there are some ways around this. If you have a good realtor he can try to simply find you an owner that can accept you. However it will not be easy. You also can receive a short term lease which is paid month to month. The last option is to receive a room in a share house.

10. Getting An Apartment From Overseas

If you are planning to stay in Japan for a year or longer. Getting an apartment from overseas is something that you should definitely consider avoiding. The main reason is that most apartments that have a one year lease or more will not allowed this. To get a normal apartment in Japan you’ll have to have your residence card and also provide a Japanese phone number. Also some apartments will not allow you to apply for it until you have seen it in person. Most of the time the only way you can receive an apartment from overseas is by renting out a short term apartment.

Short term contracts have less requirements which will allow you to apply for it form overseas. However short term properties are usually much more expensive. The best way to handle this is to know which apartments you would like to go see before your arrival. Then set up an Airbnb for your first 10 days.

Tokyo is the world’s largest city, the sprawling metropolis is home to over 13 million people, incredible food and advanced technology. Expats choosing to move to a monthly apartment in Tokyo should be aware of the very fast pace of life and the importance of work in the social structure of the city. With 23 different districts of the city, Tokyo’s diversity and size accommodates many different types of people with different priorities when it comes to housing. Tokyo apartments are generally small by European standards, and expensive, even by European standards too. Tokyo apartments for rent are some of the most expensive in Asia due to the high demand and limited space inside the city center. The mega city hold so many people yet is not a massive city by area, thus developers decided to build upwards to house the city’s population.

Many apartments in Tokyo’s downtown neighborhoods like Minato-ku and Shibuya-ku are very expensive due to so many people working in downtown and desiring a quick and easy commute to work, rather than travel an hour by train every morning and evening. Tokyo apartments for foreigners in Minato-ku are very popular with expats and expat families because of international schools and properties designed in a European style, making it more convenient for international families.

Another central area is Hiroo, it has traditionally been home of many European Embassies, thus diplomats and their families have typically live in Hiroo and surrounding areas. There are good international schools and great transport links into the downtown district of Tokyo.

Furnished Apartments Tokyo

Tokyo is a very developed metropolis, and this is reflected in its properties. The heavy number of expats here mean that there are a lot of properties designed with international tenants in mind. There are cheaper, local residential neighborhoods, but Japanese architecture, especially in terms of room size, is much smaller than typical European rooms and living spaces. Furnished and serviced apartments in Tokyo are numerous, across many different districts that all provide suitable accommodation for expats. Some of the main area with serviced and furnished apartments in Tokyo include Hiroo, Azabu and Ebisu.

Serviced apartments in Tokyo Japan are some of the most expensive options due to the services that these apartments provide. In the higher end building complexes and Tokyo’s luxury serviced apartments, the facilities will include a swimming pool, gym and sauna for residents to use. As Tokyo is a very congested city, the fact that many of Tokyo’s furnished apartment blocks offer underground parking is a massive bonus.

Many of the buildings also have a 24 hour reception desk and security on site. Be aware, these serviced apartments for rent in Tokyo will charge a premium price and these services will the factored into the monthly rent. They are often in modern buildings with plenty of natural light and are built to a high standard.

Types of Accommodations in Tokyo

Rooms for rent in Tokyo

Rooms, flatshares and cheap accommodation Tokyo

Tokyo is an expensive place to live. Japan has a high cost of living, and Tokyo has the highest cost of living in the country. The capital’s size means that across the 23 different districts, prices vary from very high to not so bad, depending on how close to the center you are. A great way to save money and not live too far outside of the central zone is to find a room for rent in Tokyo.

The benefit of finding a shared apartment with a room for rent in Tokyo, japan is that they are much cheaper than renting an entire apartment yourself. It is also a great way to meet fellow expats or locals working and living in the city. This is especially important to sociable people moving to Tokyo who do not know anyone. If you do not mind sharing things like a living room and kitchen, then a shared apartment is the option for you.

The rent is split between each tenant and you pay based on how large or small your room is. Utilities and things like wifi are also split between each tenant, again saving everyone money. Another reason to consider finding a cheap room for rent in Tokyo is that it allows you to live in areas such as Hiroo or Ebisu relatively cheaply, where as affording an entire apartment in these neighborhoods would be much, much more per month.

Accommodation in Tokyo for Students

Tokyo Student housing

Tokyo may seem like an expensive option for studying. The city is vast and overwhelming to first time visitors, and it can cost a lot to live here. However, student housing in Tokyo is trying to combat its expensive reputation through university run accommodation such as the Yamasa Institute, providing student residences in tokyo for reasonable rates.

The institute provides all the furnishings and homeware that students will need, removing the cost of finding these items. All of the utilities and bills are including in the monthly rent per room so there are no surprises and the rent is the same each month. It is also a very good way in which to meet fellow international or locals students also living and studying in the city. By grouping lts of students together they have created a community feeling within the building and this is invaluable in such a vast metropolis such as Tokyo.

For those students that feel as though they want more independence in their living situation. There are also many private apartments catering for groups of students. These apartments will be nearby the university, or with good public transportation links to the campus.

Although student dormitories operated by local governments and universities are available, approximately 75% of international students live in private houses or apartments. It is advised that you begin doing research on accommodation as soon as you receive notification of your acceptance to the university. You can find information regarding accommodation 1) at the school’s international student office, 2) online, or 3) by checking with real estate agents in the area you wish to live in.

Student dormitory


  • Lower rent and overall expenses compared to apartments (no need for shiki-kin [security deposit], rei-kin [gratuity money] or renewal fees)
  • Student dormitory rooms may come equipped with electrical appliances and/or other furniture


  • Due to limited numbers of rooms available, not all students can stay in dormitories.
  • Rules such as curfew and wake-up time
  • Shared kitchen, toilet and bathroom



  • The freedom to live according to your own lifestyle
  • Development of independence and an understanding of finances Disadvantages


  • In many cases, you will have to pay shiki-kin (security deposit equal to a few months’ rent), rei-kin (gratuity money), real estate agent’s commissions, or other fees in advance.
  • Complicated rental agreements and a need to find a guarantor
  • Need to purchase all furniture and electrical appliances

Average rent by area

Area Average rent (JPY)
National average 35,000
Tokyo 45,000
Hokkaido 28,000
Kanto 41,000
Chubu 28,000
Kinki 35,000
Chugoku 25,000
Shikoku 25,000
Kyushu 24,000

Joint guarantor

A joint guarantor is required when renting an apartment in Japan. If you do not pay the rent in time or cause damage without paying for repairs, the landlord can demand that the joint guarantor pay for the overdue rent or repairs. There is a system in which school-related persons (student office or teaching staff) can serve as joint guarantors for international students with limited Japanese connections. A joint guarantor may not be needed if you conclude a contract that requires the payment of a guarantee charge.

Comprehensive Renters’ Insurance for Foreign Students Studying in Japan

This insurance program, which is managed by the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES), is designed to cover unexpected emergencies, such as fires, and to help an international students avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing his/her joint guarantor. To find out if you are eligible for this insurance program, please contact the school in which you are currently enrolled or will be enrolled.

How to find an apartment in japan

How to Rent an Apartment or Condo in Japan

A firm understanding of these rules
will help you enjoy living a comfortable life in Japan.
Rules in Japan are different from those in your country!

How to find an apartment in japan

Necessary Documents and Other Items

In Japan, as a matter of custom, signatures are generally not accepted. Rubber ready-made seals are not accepted either. An inkan is necessary for living in Japan. Be absolutely sure you have one.

・Residence Card (在留カード, zairyū kādo), etc.

A guarantor is a person (or company) who, in the event that you the tenant are ill or lose your employment and are unable to pay rent, takes on the responsibility of paying in your place. When renting a room, you will need to have a guarantor (in some cases two). Another option is to use a guarantor company, which is similar to a consumer credit company and provides payment guarantee service. After passing through a credit check by the guarantor company, they will act in place of a guarantor on your behalf. Whether to use a guarantor or a guarantor company is determined by the landlord or managing company of the place you’re trying to rent, so you’ll need to check to be sure. After passing a review stage, a surrogate company will act as your guarantor.

・For the unemployed: Remittance certificate from bank, scholarship grant certificate, account statement (copy of bankbook)

Necessary Funds for Signing a Contract

Paid to the landlord as a “courtesy,” this is a uniquely Japanese practice. Generally equivalent to one to two months’ rent, this will not be returned upon moving out.

Generally equivalent to 1 to 2 months’ rent, this is a fee deposited temporarily with the landlord. While it is returned upon moving out, be aware that it may not be returned due to dirtiness of or damage to the room. Japan has a unique rental system which stresses a restoration to original condition. Be aware that as a rule, putting nails into walls, repainting walls, or relaying floors is prohibited.

A fee paid to the real estate agency for brokering a contract. The maximum limit of this fee is set by the law at one month’s rent, although there are cases where half a month’s rent is charged.

※The first rent paid upon moving in is the only time that daily calculation will be used to determine payment. Rent is normally paid in one-month units.

An insurance fee that covers fire and other disasters, ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 yen every two years is the standard rate. Payment is mandatory for almost all apartments.

Monthly Expenses Following Move-in

Heating and lighting expenses (electricity, gas, water) necessary for everyday life are not included in your rent.

Some apartments charge fees for cleaning and repairing public spaces, or managing and maintaining complexes, which are separate from the monthly rent. The rate can vary, from no charge at all to ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 per month.

How to find an apartment in japan

Process Leading up to Move-in

While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find an apartment that matches up with your preferences, it’s important to communicate your wishes clearly and thoroughly at this stage of the process.

If you find an apartment that catches your interest, go ahead and check out the room and building in person. Look around a few places, narrow down your choices, and find an apartment that’s ideal for you.

Once you pass through the examination, it’s finally time to sign a contract!

As a basic rule, the rental contract period in Japan is two years. However, there are many other do’s and don’ts which apply to each different apartment, so be sure to understand those as well. If you’re not confident in your Japanese ability, it’s probably safer to go over the contract with an acquaintance who understands the language, but make sure to tell the real estate agency if you don’t understand anything. It’s important to try to establish mutual understanding.

In Japan, you have to pay for everything: electricity, gas, water, and internet or phone lines. Just like with your rent, you’ll have to determine a monthly method of payment for these services. Unlike rent, it is possible to pay with a credit card. But be aware that if bills go unpaid for too long, your service will be cut off.

Common Issues

Here we introduce issues that might occur due to differences between the customs of Japan and those of your country. Try to learn about Japanese customs ahead of time in order to live a comfortable life in Japan!

In Japan, garbage is carefully separated into set categories, such as burnable, non-burnable, recyclable, etc. Days on which it’s ok to put out garbage are also divided by these categories. Separation guidelines vary by region. Be careful to obey rules concerning removal days and collection places. In almost all cases, the real estate agency will supply a calendar when you sign the contract, which has removal days marked on it (in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese).Further details concerning garbage disposal can be found here .

In Japanese apartments, sound carries over into adjacent rooms and lower floors more than you might imagine. In the event you have some friends over for a party, you’ll need to show plenty of consideration for your neighbors. As a basic rule, playing instruments is prohibited; however, some apartments allow it, so speak with your real estate agency.

Be sure to pay on time. Japan is a country that’s strict on rules. Continuing to make late payments or falling behind on payment for months may result in you being asked to move out, so beware.

The number of tenants who may occupy a room is determined in the contract. Moving into a one-person apartment with a friend or lover is prohibited. Even if it’s a case where you feel you have no other choice, be sure to speak with the real estate agency.

A person other than the signer of the rental contract living in a rented room forms a breach of contract. Renting a room in place of an acquaintance who can’t make a contract themselves for some reason is also forbidden.

If restoring the apartment at move-out proves to be too difficult, there is a possibility that you’ll need to pay an extra fee in addition to your security deposit. When any sort of repair becomes necessary or when you’d like to remodel the room, first speak with the real estate agency or your landlord.

If you’d like to live with a pet, try looking for apartments which allow them.

To those considering living in Japan for the first time.