Are rentals for expats in Tokyo expensive

Why Tokyo Expat Rentals Can Be Expensive

Are you in the market for finding an apartment in Tokyo? I’m sure you have noticed the different price ranges on housing portal sites or Tokyo real estate shops, and perhaps you’re wondering why some apartments are significantly cheaper than others. Or maybe you have tried to get into those more affordable apartments but have been rejected. Sometimes cheaper doesn’t always mean better! Most of such cheaper apartments aren’t even available for expats.

Here are some reasons why!


Do Cheap Apartments Exist for Expats in Tokyo?


When looking at housing portal sites or even those flyers on Tokyo real estate shop windows, you will notice some housing is notably cheaper than others. Most of the cheaper apartments tend to be owned by private homeowners or very small management companies. The chances to make one of these more affordable places your home is very slim, if you’re a non-Japanese-national. Roughly only ~5% of all apartments in central Tokyo are possible to be rented out to Non-Japanese speaking expats. Even speaking fluent Japanese doesn’t give access to all options, with only 20% of apartments being able to rent out for expats who speaks Japanese.

We rarely see those strikingly cheap apartments available for expats, and this may seem unfair and leave you questioning, “Why?”


Why are so many “stupid good deals” not available to expats?


There are a few reasons, but the biggest one is that many private homeowners are not willing to work with people they can’t communicate with. It’s kind of simple, actually. Imagine if you owned a house and rented it out, but the applicant was someone who could not speak the same language as you, has never lived in your country, and they most likely don’t know many things about the culture.

Even if you have an English mediator (like us at!) or pass the initial guarantor process (screening for the apartment), private homeowners or small property managers, would rather not worry or deal with miscommunications or rules being broken by cultural differences.

We have had clients pass all of screening, but in the end, it is always owner decision. For small private type properties, it’s easy to have the owner come back with any excuse as to why they reject the application. Such frustrations can leave the potential renter devastated (and your agent at!). The choice is entirely out of your hand, and the word `gaikokujin` (foreigner) can work against you.


What Can I Do About It?


Many larger property developers are willing and very open to Expat renters. I am not talking about those massive sized dream apartments that only the larger companies can afford for their employees; the ones that make you feel as if you are living in America. Yet, beautiful places that you can personally still afford. Big companies manage these apartments with a clear and functional system in place. The screening for potential renters is evident with no hidden agenda, the same for each person. They are of exceptionally high and competitive quality, which results in the costlier rent/management fee.


Here is What We Recommend You Do


You will have a much smoother experience, by going with an apartment run by a major or even medium tier property manager.

Trying to find the most bargain basement bin apartment, often ends in a waste of time for everybody involved.

Such apartments can also make it more difficult for you once you have moved in, as if something goes wrong for some reason, the steps to get things fixed can be a challenge. We at work with property managers to clear up issues, but if it’s from a property manager that just doesn’t care about its tenants, there’s nothing much we can do!!!

We are not comfortable putting our clients into properties where the management companies don’t seem to care and don’t see the value in keeping your needs prioritized. In the end, the benefits do out way the cost difference, and larger apartment developers are the way to go for the smoothest all around process.

If that’s not convincing enough here are some more benefits:


Newer and Modern~ They are fresh, which leads to beautiful living spaces. Stylish, and not skimping on quality at any point. Always being kept up and not letting them get run down.

Cleaner~ After every move out, the unit gets a professional cleaning, possibly new wallpaper, or even new tatami flooring. Repairs are done to make the apartment as close to “new condition” as possible. No guessing if it ever got cleaned or not, no weird smells, and no broken things getting covered up to hide (like what you could find in a privately-owned bargain apartment, and yes, the smells are very unpleasantly real).

Faster Communication~ When something goes wrong, for instance, when you need a plumber, call up the management company support line (or us!) and they will send someone over. You don’t need to wait around for the owner to get back from his vacation or decide when to call you back. System is in place to solve problems.


We want you to love the place you live in. It’s where you come home every night to rest your head and unwind from the busy days and exciting nights of bustling Tokyo. Finding a cheap place probably means there is something “cheap about it.” Instead, let us help you find somewhere that makes you feel happy and, in return, is also happy to have you there. 🙂

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