It is a known fact that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world so it’s not surprising to hear that a lot of people are interested in living in the country, whether temporarily or for good. While making the decision to live in Japan is one thing, the next hurdle is finding a place to live. You’ll hear time after time that the renting process in Japan is complicated but did you know that it could be made that bit simpler if you have the right information and resources to do it?
Just like anywhere else, the living and housing situation in Japan’s metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo (東京), Osaka (大阪), Yokohama (横浜), and Nagoya (名古屋), is quite different from the situation in its less-populated areas.
As for the price, unsurprisingly, the cost of living spaces in urban cities are higher than those in rural areas. For around 70,000 JPY, you could rent a three-bedroom apartment in Chiba (千葉), a prefecture located east of Tokyo, which is approximately the same price as a studio apartment in the capital city.
Despite the wide range of apartment options to choose from, most information on how to rent in Japan is only available in Japanese. This makes the process somewhat challenging for those with no Japanese ability, but all hope is not lost.
It is said that even the Japanese find the process of renting in Japan long and complicated. So, how much more complicated is it for foreigners? Let’s find out together!
The first dilemma is that most Japanese real estate companies will require you to have a Japanese bank account for monthly rent payments. While we’d love to tell you this is a walk in the park, unless your Japanese is top-notch, this can be a long and troublesome process with few English-speaking staff and endless complicated Japanese documents.
Companies will also require you to have a guarantor, generally a Japanese person or a guarantor company. Your guarantor will be liable for your rent if you ever fail to pay, so you’ll need somebody Japanese that knows and trusts you. While people often ask relatives to be their guarantor, unless you’re lucky enough to have a family member in Japan, this could be another problem for your house-hunting.
The next issue is one that effects anyone wanting to rent in Japan, so you’re not alone here. Whether you’re a Japanese citizen or not, the traditional Japanese renting system expects you to prepare a large amount of money before you’ve even moved in. These initial fees are called shikikin (敷金) and reikin (礼金) and must be handed over before signing a lease and occupying a property. This is a separate fee normally costing two to four months of rent acting as a security deposit aside from your monthly rent. On top of this, be prepared to pay the key deposit, insurance, maintenance fee, etc., which can cost an additional 100,000 JPY, depending on the area that you choose to live.
These are just some of the requirements from landlords and, depending on whom you rent with, the process could be even more long-winded. It is, therefore, no surprise to hear that the Japanese themselves find it bothersome to rent, let alone foreigners with little Japanese ability who are unfamiliar with the Japanese renting system.
Combined with the language issues, most foreigners in Japan decide that renting is an impossible task so they often choose to live in share houses, as they are the least strict and are usually cheaper. However, the problem with living in a share house presents itself in the name. You’ll be sharing your communal spaces, or even bedrooms in some cases. So, if you’re somebody that needs a bit more space and privacy, we suggest renting an apartment.
Luckily, as time goes on, Japan is slowly but surely making it more convenient and less complicated for foreigners residing in Japan. One of their efforts to provide a foreigner-friendly solution is the GPM Housing Service.
So, what are the good points of the GPM Housing Service?
For starters, you won’t be required to go through as many complicated steps as for the usual renting process. The GPM Housing Service accepts credit card payments so you can make payments from foreign bank accounts. There is also no more need for a guarantor. On top of this, you can even apply to rent from overseas which means your place can be all set up for you just in time for your arrival in Japan.
The best thing of all? They offer bilingual support! Yes, you read that right. No more struggling along in broken Japanese and hand gestures as there are English-speaking staff on hand. Their English website also means you can search for the perfect apartment online, making the whole process of renting much more convenient.
Another advantage of this service is their Cash Back Campaign whereby those who sign a lease with them are eligible for a cash back of up to 1,000,000 JPY!
With GPM Housing Service’s simple process, all you have to do is search for an apartment on their website and they will take you on a tour of the property (you can skip this if you apply from overseas). Once you’ve chosen your dream apartment, you can sign the lease and pay the fees. Wouldn’t you agree that this is less stressful than the ordinary process?
GPM Housing Service offers more than 2,700 foreigner-friendly properties all over Japan, which means that you can choose to live anywhere in the country, whether it be in the city or in a less crowded area.
Of course, nothing is perfect, so let us cover the disadvantages of the GPM Housing Service compared with the ordinary renting process in Japan. As a third-party company, you will be charged three additional fees when you apply for an apartment and while on your lease.
The first one is the GPM Housing Service Registration Fee which will be the price of 50% – 100% of your total monthly rent (rent + maintenance fee + 8% consumption tax), depending on the payment method you choose. The second initial payment is the Contract Processing Fee, an amount that varies depending on the property.
During the period of your lease, you will also be charged the Bilingual Billy Monthly Subscription Fee which covers the English concierge service for any apartment-related issues you have, setting up of essential utilities, and fire insurance, which is usually required when renting an apartment. For those who pay rent by credit card, this monthly subscription fee is equal to 8% of your total monthly rent. For instance, if your total monthly rent is 70,000 JPY, then this service will cost you another 5,600 JPY per month.
Although these fees may add up for your first payment, they assure these foreigner-friendly services that guarantee you a good renting experience. For further details on the GPM Housing Service, their renting process, and their campaign, you may check out their website here.
While it’s true that the Japanese are some of the nicest and friendliest people you’ll meet, there are still some things in Japan that are not foreigner-friendly, one of which is finding and renting an apartment. Today, however, the main issue is not having access to the right resources. With all the information we have provided in this article, we hope that you can easily find yourself a nice and cozy place that you can call home while experiencing and enjoying what Japan has to offer!