Firstly, your action plan will be different whether you receive housing support or you independently take care of where you live by yourself.

For example, if you come to Japan for working holiday, you have no housing support from a specific organization but you need to look for your apartment by yourself.

In contrast, if you are sent to a subsidiary office in Japan from the head office in your country as Intra-company transferee, your company will guarantee housing support.
So you don’t have to worry about arranging your apartment by yourself.

If you are exchange student, an educational institution which you go to pay provide a dormitory with much cheaper price than any other apartments.

Like so, your action plan will brunch to two ways. If your position is guaranteed housing support then all you need to do is just filling in necessary application forms before moving in.

A case where you receive houing support or a case where you look for your apartment by yourself

A case where you can receive housing support

  • You come to Japan for Intra-company transferee
  • A Japanese company you apply for possesses some properties to rent for workers as one of welfare services
  • An educational institution you will go to has domitory or apartment to rent for students
  • Foreign teacher dispatch program like “JET” managed by the Japanese government supports your place to live

A case where you look for your apartment by yourself

  • You come to Japan for working holiday
  • A Japanese company you apply for requires you to look after where you live by yourself
  • You want to move from a school domitory to an single apartment by yourself

Steps for finding a place to live

I am going to explain how to find an apartment for those who don’t have housing support and find apartment by themselves.

The general step is the following chart.

  1. Find a shared house to live in
  2. Move to an apartment

Without any exception, those who look for a place to live independently need to take the above steps.

Foreigners can’t make a rental contract for living in an apartment from the beginning

Firstly, it is very difficult for foreigners who start living in Japan for the first time to rent an apartment from the beginning in Japan. I said it is difficult but correct a word of “difficult” as “impossible”.

The biggest problem is whether you have a resident certificate or not. Every single apartment requires you to submit a resident certificate without exception

However, according to Ministry of Justice of Japan, for doing resident registration and resident certificate, you must decide where you live. Which means, a resident certificate is issued by municipality after you decide a place to live because a move-in notification form requires you to inform your address in Japan no matter who live in Japan regardless of whether or not you come to Japan for the first time.

Moreover, for renting an apartment, you are required to submit a resident card. There are some people can’t receive a resident card at airports because their arrival airports are other than 4 designated airport.

In that case, resident cards which those people couldn’t receive at airports should be sent to their places to live later. So you need to secure a place beforehand to receive a resident card from an immigrant office.

Your first choise is limited to shared house or guest house

I explained if you look after where you live by yourself, you can’t live in an apartment as soon as you arrive in Japan because…

  • an apartment owner requires you to submit a copy of resident certificate and a resident card
  • your resident certificate is issued after you decide where you live
  • your resident card is sent to where you live in Japan if you couldn’t receive it at an airport

Which means, your first place to live in should be the one which doesn’t require you to submit a copy of a resident certificate or a resident card

The place is shared house. However, depending on the shared house, you are required to submit a resident card. In that case, those of you who don’t receive a resident card at an airport should stay at guest house temporarily and set an address of a guest house for your provisional address to receive a resident card.

You should report move-in notification that you move in a guest house and receive a resident card. A resident card will be sent to your place after you report a move-in notification in 10 days

From the beginning, I recommend you should arrive at designated 4 airports (Narita, Chubu, Kansai, Haneda) to receive a resident card on the spot as much as possible. That’s much easier to make your step forward without any troubles.

Duration of residence of shared house

Required duration of residence of shared house is basically 6 months for minimum period in urban areas no matter where you go in Japan. If you move out before you spend there 6 months, additional one month to two month rent will be added on a basic rent as a penalty when you move out. You must make sure the contract carefully before you conclude.

If you want to move to a single apartment as soon as possible and you can’t wait to move out, you should stay a guest house for several months as preparatory period to move to a single apartment.

Payment method of a shared house

Mostly, a shared house requests you to make a payment by direct debit but for those who don’t have bank accounts in Japan, it prepares another payment methods which is like payment by credit card or paypal.

Key money and security deposit

Key money and secerity deposit is what we call, Shiki-Kin & Rei-Kin. Those deposits are the most popular deposit that most of apartment owners require you to deposit.

In shared house, you are not required to may those payment when you move in. However, if you break a part of contract content, there is a case where a-month rent will be added on a regular payment as a penalty.

Shiki-Kin is a deposit for guaranty of a liability for a rent. If you end up being unable to pay a rent, your rent money will be deducted from Shiki-kin

Rei-Kin is a money to pay an apartment owner with the feeling of gratitude. This is kind of like gratuity. This moeny will not be returned back to you. Most of foreigners will not be convinced to this payment.

If you want to move to a single apartment

Nowadays, shared houses’ quality is very good beyond your expectation. Rooms are as if you rent an single apartment in contrast to a student dormitory. Some of them provide fully furnished room with a shower room and toilet equipped altogether in a room. Shared houses in Japan are progressing day by day.

But if you want to rent an apartment independently in Japan, you just think the term of stay in a shared house as preparatory period because there are some conditions you have to clear to live in an apartment in Japan beforehand and it takes a while.

The following things is to-do lists which you need to do perfectly before you apply for an apartment.

  • Do resident registration and receive resident certificate
  • Receive a resident card (if you didn’t receive it at an airport)
  • Opening a bank account
  • Finding guarantors
  • Being able to speak Japanese
  • Preparing Shiki-kin and Rei-Kin
  • Your period of stay should be more than 2 years as of application.(If your period of stay is not sufficient to 2 years, you should renew your visa status.)
  • Submit move-out notification to a municipality if you move to another prefecture
  • Order a Hanko at a specialty shop (which is to stamp on a contract in place of signature)

I summarized the above information on this article Concrete methods of passing through screening of Japanese apartment

You just check your solvency

Lately, apartments introduced by major real estate agents tend to remove Reikin (key money) and request you to pay only security deposit.

However, security deposit is usually 2 to 3 month rent is market price. If you rent an apartment which costs you 60,000yen, you need to pay 120,000 yen to 180,000 yen with the first month rent when you move in.

This deposit price is in proportion to the expensiveness of rent of an apartment. If you want to move in an apartment which costs you far more expensive than 60,000 yen apartment like its one-month rent is more than 100,000 yen, security deposit may be added on more month than 60,000 yen apartment.

You just talk to your savings and decide where to live.

If you live in a dormitory provided by a school or a company you go to

Those who already live in a dormitory satisfy the above some conditions. But if you don’t move out of there because you’re worried about your solvency, there are good apartment managed by the Japanese government.

Whose name is UR
Unfortunately, entire pages of the website is written in Japanese, and you have to translate with Google or something

This UR doesn’t require you to pay both security deposit and key money when you move in. Moreover, you don’t need a guarantor to rent a room. However, payment screening is relatively hard to pass.

You can check this article → Governmental apartment will support your budget for living cost. Check UR apartment!

Are you really sure you want to move to a single apartment?

Residence screening of apartments in Japan is very hard to not only foreigners but Japanese. This is because resident rights is exclusively protected by the Japanese government.

For example, if you fall behind in your rent, apartment owner or a real estate agent can only demand you to pay overdue rent. Being threatened with eviction by a owner or a agent is illegal action which is strictly prohibited no matter how heinous an occupier will not pay rent stubbornly.

Even entering room without an occupier’s permission is an illegal offense, which is housebreaking. So an apartment owner naturally tends to make conditions harder to avoid payment troubles by residents.

You can imagine how difficult it is for foreigners to pass the screening because this rule is strictly practiced even when Japanese rent an apartment.

So in my opinion, if you are a single, unless you have your family to live with or married partner or some reasons, there is no reason to move out a shared house and carry difficulty for yourself because living in shared house in Japan is not different from living in a single apartment in Japan.

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