Applying to rent an apartment in Tokyo may seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re new to Japan. However, with a good real estate agent and the right preparation, you can remove a lot of the stress and even enjoy the search for your new home.
So you have the job in Tokyo and you now need to find a place to stay. It doesn’t matter if you are an expat, foreigner, gaijin or gaikokujin in Tokyo – everyone is the same! If you have friends living in the city, they may be able to help by recommending good estate agents or even have a spare room.
Depending on the country you are from, you may be used to having plenty of space at your disposal. it’s also important to have realistic expectations of rental properties in Japan. We compare 5 common Japanese apartment sizes and layouts so you know what to expect.
15 Essential Things You Need to Know
Japanese is the country's primary language, and although some residents are conversant in English, the language barrier can still pose a challenge. To navigate daily life, ordering food, asking for directions, or even conducting business, knowing basic Japanese phrases can go a long way. Consider taking language lessons before you move, or utilize language learning apps for on-the-go study.
Japan is known for its high cost of living, particularly in metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Osaka. From grocery bills to rent and public transportation, daily expenses can add up. Thoroughly research the cost of living in your preferred city and plan your finances accordingly. Be aware that initial set-up costs, like apartment deposits, can be substantial.
Expect smaller living spaces in Japan, especially in the cities. Apartments are compact but efficiently designed. Understanding the different types of housing options - from traditional single-family homes to modern city apartments - will help you find the right place for your needs and budget.
Japan’s culture is a fascinating blend of the ultra-modern and deeply traditional. The nation cherishes its cultural heritage, with many customs and traditions still prevalent today. Be prepared to take off your shoes indoors, bow when greeting others, and learn other cultural nuances to respect local traditions.
Japan lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," experiencing frequent seismic activity. Earthquake preparedness is an integral part of life here, with regular drills and well-established protocols. Familiarize yourself with the necessary safety measures and always keep an emergency kit ready.
Japan boasts an excellent healthcare system that provides comprehensive coverage for a relatively low cost. After moving, you'll need to sign up for Japan’s National Health Insurance. While the system is efficient, language can sometimes be a barrier in healthcare settings, so having a translator app or service can be helpful.
Japan experiences a distinctive four-season climate. From the sakura bloom in spring to the vibrant fall foliage, each season offers unique charm. However, be prepared for hot, humid summers, and if you're moving to the northern regions, prepare for snowy, harsh winters.
Japan's public transportation system is world-class, known for its reliability and punctuality. Trains, buses, and subways make commuting easy. However, they can get crowded during peak hours. Although owning a car is possible, many prefer public transport due to high parking fees and congested urban areas.
Japan's work culture is notorious for its high levels of dedication and long hours, often leading to a phenomenon known as 'karoshi' or death from overwork. However, a growing awareness of work-life balance has led to changes in labor laws, encouraging healthier work environments.
Japanese cuisine is much more than just sushi and ramen. It's diverse, delicious, and known for its health benefits. However, if you have dietary restrictions or allergies, especially to seafood, you may need to exercise caution when eating out. Learning how to express your dietary needs in Japanese will be beneficial.
Despite Japan's technological prowess, the country remains largely cash-based. From small eateries to some shops, not all places accept credit cards. Always carry sufficient cash, especially in rural areas. Note that international ATMs can sometimes be hard to find; convenience stores are often the best bet for withdrawing cash.
Japan has strict waste disposal and recycling regulations, and adherence is not just encouraged but expected. You'll need to separate your trash according to the rules set by your local municipality. While it may seem complicated at first, it's an essential part of contributing to Japan's sustainability efforts.
Japan consistently ranks as one of the world's safest countries. Crime rates are low, and lost items often find their way back to their owners. However, it's always important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, just as you would anywhere else.
Once you've arrived in Japan, you must register your residence at the local municipal office within 14 days. This registration is necessary for various administrative procedures, such as opening a bank account, so prioritize it upon arrival.
Understanding Japan's visa regulations is crucial. Whether you’re moving for work, study, or long-term residence, ensure you have the appropriate visa. Visa violations can lead to serious penalties, including deportation, so be sure to keep your documentation up to date.
Moving to a new country is a significant transition, full of anticipation, excitement, and, naturally, a little apprehension. The key to a smooth move is preparation and understanding of the local customs and expectations. Embracing the vibrant culture, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and serene landscapes of Japan can make this move a rewarding experience. Do your due diligence, plan meticulously, and look forward to the fascinating adventure that awaits in Japan.