For many new arrivals to Japan, getting an apartment is an exercise in frustration as you deal with Japanese bureaucratic red tape. There's a large number of reasons why renting as a foreigner in Japan is so difficult but in this podcast I will give you some of my tips to try and make the process a little easier.
Some of the things to keep in mind before you start are:
1. Be prepared to pay a lot of fees!
The Japanese love their fees and landlords are no exception. On average you can expect to pay the equivalent for four to six months rent for your initial move in fees.
2. Some landlords won't rent to foreigners.
It's Japan, deal with it and move on. Check out Real Estate Japan for foreigner friendly agents.
3. Don't underestimate how nice it is to live close to the station.
The difference between a three minute and a seven minute walk might not sound like much but in the peak of the Japanese summer it will be a huge difference.
4. Can you handle the rush hour?
Before you sign all your paperwork, take the train nearest to your home during peak rush hour. Some lines are worse than others and nothing is more demoralizing than having to deal with Japanese rush hour everyday.
5. Get all your paperwork ready.
The only thing the Japanese love more than fees is paperwork. Make sure you have all your necessary documents ready before applying for your new apartment. If you're not sure what you need ask your real estate agent.
Read the full article at: https://tokyo-podcast.com/season-two/renting-apartment-tokyo/© Anthony Joh
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Apts.jp has a pretty thorough rundown on these topics in their FAQ:
They've helped me out a lot. Renting can be harsh in Tokyo, but I imagine most foreigner-friendly rental services try to make everything as smooth as possible.
Yeah, "it's Japan"! "Racial discrimination is totally acceptable here! Don't complain. Don't assert your rights. Just pay extra to get the special foreigner-friendly service and take the little scraps that we decide to give you! Be a good little trained panda! Giving us your money is way better than confronting moral failure in our society!"
Foreigner-friendly rental services are fine if it's your first time in Japan, you don't speak the language, and you have no support structure in place. After a while though it really shouldn't be necessary for you. Tokyo isn't that hard to rent in, not if you know how to get any information for yourself. The big chain fudoyasans have fantastic websites that make house-hunting far easier than it was in my corner of the US, at least once you take the xenophobic landlords and sub-standard housing out of the equation.
The good news is that places that won't rent to gaijin are getting fewer and fewer, or at least they seem to be in my part of Japan.
And be prepared to accept a place on a hill or something built at the start of the Showa period-nothing that a Japanese would want to live in anyway......