Short term rental apartment vs serviced apartments

Short-Term Rental vs Long-Term Rental vs Serviced Apartment: What’s the Difference in Tokyo?

In Japan the whole application process, monthly cost and method of finding an apartment is completely different depending on whether you are looking for a long-term rental (1 year or more), a short-term rental (1 week – 12 months) or a serviced apartment.

This blog post will take you through these 3 rental options and the associated costs and other differences.

Long-Term Rental Apartments in Tokyo

Most apartments or rooms in Japan are designed to be rented for long periods of time. They are not furnished by the home’s owner because it is assumed that people will want to bring their own items from their previous home, or if they are setting up for the first time then they will want to purchase their own things to furnish the home.

Additionally – In Japan, people like to reduce any potential points of conflict. For example is a tear on a sofa’s upholstery carelessness on the part of the tenant or simply wear and tear? By offering apartments unfurnished all of the potential points of conflict are reduced.

Utilities are generally not included in the cost of rent. Pets are usually not allowed.

The rental contract for a long-term apartment is typically two years minimum.


  • Long-term apartments provide stability for people who are hoping to live in Tokyo for a number of years.
  • Unfurnished apartments allow you to add your own style to the rental.
  • Costs are lowest with long-term contracts
  • You get to develop a real relationship with your neighbours and wider community
Cherry blossom trees in Tokyo at sunset

Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash


  • Long contracts and agreements.
  • You have to provide your own furnishings, which can be expensive if you are only planning on being around for a few years – furniture and appliance resale value is typically very low in Japan.

Short-Term Rental Apartments in Tokyo

If you only plan to be in Japan for a few months, a short-term living space may be more suitable. Short-term apartments are used by people who are on vacation or in between houses. These rentals are typically furnished. You can often rent this type of apartment for only the amount of time that you plan to stay.

In a short-term rental apartment, you are in charge of keeping it clean and taking care of it as you would your own home. These rentals have kitchens that are fully equipped with everything you need. Therefore, you can save yourself the burden of going out to eat every night during the weeks/months you are here in Tokyo. On average, you will pay more for a short-term furnished apartment than you would for a long-term non-furnished apartment of the same size.

In Tokyo you can expect to pay 20% more per month for a furnished short-term apartment rental than you would for a long-term unfurnished apartment rental.


  • Address can be used to register for a residence card
  • Fully furnished and comfortable.
  • Short-term rental agreements ranging from weeks to months.
  • It allows you to relax in your own space, prepare your own food, and more.


  • No services are included
  • Slightly more expensive than a long-term rental

Serviced Apartments in Tokyo

Think of a serviced apartment as you would think of a hotel room, only with more freedom and privacy. Whereas a hotel provides you with a room, a serviced apartment gives you a home. These short-term rentals provide you with a fully furnished and equipped home. You have all the necessities for daily life from a comfortable bed, to a relaxing sofa, a serviceable desk, and even tableware.

They may have a studio set up or up to two bedrooms. They come with a basic kitchen, dining, and living spaces. You may have on-site amenities such as a fitness area. These apartments may be rented for a short amount of time, even nightly.

Many offer weekly cleaning services and laundry services if you need them. Some may offer room services. There is typically a front desk that you can visit if you have needs or concerns about your apartment.

This type of apartment is usually used by employees of larger corporations or businesses. If you are going to be in Tokyo for an important meeting, you may want to have a home that you can walk into. You can unpack, prepare for your meeting, and walk away from in only a couple of days. They are more expensive than a short-term rental apartment without these added services.

For a serviced apartment in Tokyo, expect to pay around double the monthly fee of a standard long-term apartment rental.


  • Fully furnished.
  • Cleaning services are available.
  • Front desk services are included.
  • Perfect for per night or per week home rentals
  • Address can be used to register residence card


  • More expensive than other short-term apartment options

What Type of Apartment Is Right for You?

Most people want to have an idea of where they will stay before they ever step off the plane in Tokyo. They do not want to arrive and then worry about which home is right for them. Before you decide, there are some things you need to ask yourself. You need to know:

  • How Long You Plan to Stay
  • Your Budget
  • Specific Needs You May Have
  • Which Services You May Require
Apartment choices in Tokyo

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Length of Stay: If you are making a move to Tokyo because you have accepted a new job in the area, a long-term rental may be ideal. Long-term rentals are mostly for residents of Japan to take advantage of and build a life in. The longer contract can be intimidating if you are not sure how much you will like a particular area.

You could always opt for a short-term rental whilst you look for something more permanent.

If you have been to Japan in the past or know where you want to live, then you are likely fine with going straight for a long-term rental.

This does not mean that if you are moving to Japan then a short-term rental is a poor option. Short-term apartments are fully furnished which can make the transition from your home country a little easier. You do not have to worry about navigating Tokyo’s shopping districts straight away or have your furniture shipped around the world.

In a situation where you plan to arrive, stay a month or two, and return home, a short-term option will be most appropriate. You will have all the conveniences of home without the burden of moving your entire life with you on an extended stay. It can allow you to bring your partner, your children, or just yourself. You will have space to thrive in, and no risk of breaking a contract if you have to cut your trip short.

Anyone (with the budget) who arrives in Tokyo knowing that their stay will last days or weeks rather than weeks or months, may consider a serviced apartment. Families can take advantage of the services that are offered and businessmen or women can relax in a space that is not confining. Though expensive, serviced apartments are the most worry-free option available.

Budget: Your budget may be the biggest concern when choosing an apartment type. This will be something to discuss with your employer as it is a fair ask that you are compensated a little more for the first few months of living in a new country.

With long-term apartment rentals in Tokyo you have a lot of upfront costs on top of your rent:

  • Security Deposit – typically 1-3 months rent
  • Key money – 1 months rent, rarely 2 months rent
  • Management fee
  • Advance Rent
  • Guarantor Fee
  • Contract Renewal Fee
  • Cleaning Fee
  • Lock Replacement Fee
  • Fire/Rental Insurance Fee
  • Agency Fee -usually 1 months rent

You need to take these into account too when weighing your options if you are only planning to live in Tokyo for under 2 years. If you are staying for more than 1.5 years then it will still be more economical to go for the long-term rental option.

Serviced apartments are more expensive because they offer services rather than just the necessities. A basic, short-term stay rental is just the basics, but will allow you to walk in and make yourself comfortable quickly.

Needs and Service You Require: If you are staying for a short time frame, you may have certain needs.

A business trip may not allow a lot of time for you to focus on cleaning your apartment. You may want a help desk that can provide useful information about how to reach certain locations within the city. You may want to have guests over that you work with, etc. In short, an apartment that offers select services may meet your needs better than any other option.

If you are here for a short time visiting family or sightseeing for more than a week, you may not need the services. The furnishings though will still enable you to make yourself comfortable. A short-term rental will meet every need that you have. By giving up the services, you save money, which can be used for exploring all that Japan has to offer.

We can advise you

We specialize in matching internationals like you with the perfect apartment in Tokyo. We will take you through the options that best suit you based on your lifestyle and your budget.

All of our staff are bilingual so you can be confident speaking with us in English and of course feel free to try out a little Japanese with us too.

Please contact us, and let us know what you are looking for!