A complete guide to



5 steps on the way to your new home in Japan

From an idea to moving in




Thanks to the very reliable transport system in Kanto region, you more or less free to choose where you want to live, despite your place of work or study.

People often pay less attention to their neighborhood, focusing all their attention on the apartment. But the surrounding environment is just as important as your own room. So if you have some time, think about your future life: where you going to buy groceries, how you going to relax after work etc. And of course, how much is it going to cost to live in a certain place.




Depending on your circumstances, some things are absolutely crucial. If you have a car, you need an apartment with parking space. Or maybe you know that you going to commute every day, in which case it’s better to live closer to the station. Other things you can sacrifice for better deal or nicer area, like closet space or a balcony. Remember, that some of those things are especially important for Japanese people, and can seriously influence the price of a unit. So set your priorities in order of priority for you and let the agent know about it.

Usually, when going through real estate listings on the internet, you going to see something similar to this. A lot of icons for the most popular things, people are asking for. But people in Japan might have slightly different views on what’s matter in the living space. So be sure to think about your own preferences and then let the agent know what to look for.

Most of the things to choose from are about different properties of an apartment and things that you will find inside, like flooring and joint or separated bathroom and toilet. But you can often choose straight away only properties that doesn’t require guarantor or paying the key money.



Thinking about how much your new apartment will cost, you have to keep in mind that your rent is only one part of it. For example, your electricity bill in Tokyo is going to about the same as in Saitama, but a month of daycare for a child can be more than twice as high in the capital as the same thing in Saitama.

Bearing that in mind, you need to be sure that you can afford not only the rent but your future life in a new place.

Initial Payment

Once you find an apartment and you’re ready to sign the contract, the initial payment, or shoki-hiyō, 初期費用 is typically going to be the largest. Of course it all depends on the situation, but you may have to pay an amount equal to five or six times your monthly rent as an initial payment. And Japan is still a cash-based society, so don’t forget your cash!
Here are the costs you’ll have to take care of for your initial payment:

Reikin ・ 礼金
Appreciation money
Also known as "Key money", this is a custom unique to Japan that requires paying the landlord a “payment of gratitude”, which is generally equal to 1–2 months of rent and non-refoundable. However, in recent days there are some properties that don’t require this appreciation money.
Shikikin ・ 敷金
Security deposit
This one-time fee is paid to the property owner as a kind of security deposit and in many cases is equivalent to 1–2 months of rent. Unlike appreciation money, this deposit is returned when you move out of the apartment, but keep in mind that if any damages are found when move out, the repairing cost will be deducted from the deposit and only the remaining will be returned to the lessee.
Kasai hoken ・ 火災保険
Fire insurance
This property insurance fee is paid to cover emergencies, such as fire. In most cases, it is 10,000–20,000 yen and non-refoundable. Purchasing this insurance is required for most properties.
Chukai tesuryo ・ 仲介手数料
Brokerage fee
This non-refoundable fee is commission that’s paid to the real estate agency that served as an intermediary for the contract agreement. This fee is restricted by Japanese law to being no more than 1 month’s rent. In some cases, it is half a month’s rent or not charged at all.
Maeyachin ・ 前家賃
First month’s rent
This number is typically averaged from the number of days left in the month you move in + the following month’s rent. Therefore, the amount differs depending on when the contract is signed (beginning of the month vs end of the month).
Hoshogaisha riyo-ryo
Guarantor company fee
If you don’t have a guarantor in Japan, you need to use a guarantor company and pay for its usage fee.
Tetsukekin ・ 手付金
Reservation deposit
This 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.

And don’t forget to think how you going to move in the first place. Japanese transport and dedicated moving companies are amazing, but they can cost quite a lot. Be sure to check out our guide on moving in Japan.




Japan has it’s own well-established real estate system where you can’t really contact property owners directly. You going to need to talk to an agency. There’s endless amount of big and small companies and almost all of them work with the same database of properties. So you just need to choose the one that’s going to be easy to work with.

Saitama Maruyama Engeneering can offer you one stop service for all your needs, whether it’s renting or buying an apartment, or building your own property or just dealing with noisy neighbours. We are always there for you. With full English support, you can be sure that your voice will be heard.



Room Layout

Apartment layouts in Japan are expressed in terms of the availability of a living room, kitchen/dining area plus the additional number of rooms.

1K ・ 1R
One room studio apartment with a compact kitchen.
1-Dining / Kitchen
Apartment with a dining / kitchen area plus another room.
Living-Dining / Kitchen- plus 1 room
This is equivalent to a one-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen / dining area.
Kitchen plus 2 rooms
Kitchen area plus two separate rooms.
Kitchen / dining area plus 2 rooms
Kitchen / dining area plus two rooms.
Living- Kitchen / dining area plus two rooms
This is equivalent to a two-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen / dining area.
Living- Kitchen / dining area plus 3 rooms
This is equivalent to a three-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen / dining area.
Living- Kitchen / dining area plus 4 rooms
This is equivalent to a four-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen / dining area.



This is a tricky step, because the sheer amount of paperwork.

  1. Copy of your passport
  2. Copy of the front and back of your residence card
  3. Proof of employment (if you are on a work visa)
    • Depending on a situation, you might also need to prepare copies of your:
      • Health insurance card
      • Three months of pay stubs
      • Tax withholding slip
      • Employment contract
  4. Proof of enrollment (if you are on a student visa)
  5. Contact details for an emergency contact in Japan

You might not need everything on this list, but if you want to be fully prepared, make sure you have at least these numbered items covered.




You now have a new place to live. The whole process can seem difficult, but hopefully this guide can make it more straightforward to you.

When you come to this stage you probably already know that there are still some additional steps left.

Hopefully this was already dealt with before you moved in. But if not, you need to apply for utilities, such as electricity, water and gas.

Internet usually gets disconnected after previous residents moved out. So if you need your own wifi spot or wired connection, you have to apply for it.

Different companies have different payment options. You can always bring your bills to combini, but you can also set up autopayment from your bank account, or pay with a mobile app.

Lastly, definitely save our contacts, that you can see right below this article. If you have any questions, complaints, requests, etc., please contact us.