Renting a new apartment in Japan can be quite costly. Unlike in other countries, there are a myriad of hidden expenses to consider when you move. It is a general rule that you will need four-six months rent to cover all the moving costs. You may be asked to pay the following:
1) Monthly Rent
This is an expected cost, the monthly rent for your apartment.
2) Monthly Building Management Fee
This is sometimes added on to the cost of your rent, or it might be a separate fee. It is usually between 2000-10000 yen.
3) Key Money
This was introduced after World War II as a way to show gratitude to the landlord for leasing you an apartment during a big housing shortage. Unfortunately the concept still remains, although this can sometimes be negotiated and is probably the easiest thing to negotiate, although not during peak months (Feb-April). It is usually one-two months’ worth of rent. It is non-refundable.
4) Security Deposit
This will be refunded when you move out (minus reasonable damages and cleaning expenses). It is usually one-two month’s worth of rent. Expect the cleaning fee when moving out to be excessive, between 30,000-70,000 yen.
5) Real Estate Agent Fees
Strangely in Japan, the renter has to pay a fee to the agent. This is usually one months’ rent.
6) Guarantor Fees
When moving into a new apartment you will be asked to provide a guarantor to cover any rent or damage costs if you can’t pay or suddenly terminate your contract. Generally non-Japanese people need to find a Japanese resident to act as their guarantor. Most expats use a guarantor company. The agent may try to assign a company to you, but you are within your rights to nominate your own company. The initial cost should be around 50-100% of your monthly rent, and you will need to pay a yearly renewal of about 10,000 yen.
7) Fire Insurance
Since so many old Japanese buildings are prone to fire damage, it is compulsory to purchase fire insurance. The cost is approximately 20,000 yen per two years.
8) Key Exchange Fee
Another surprising fee in Japan – the tenant has to pay for the keys to be replaced when a new tenant moves in. That will cost around 15,000-25,000 yen but not all landlords charge this.
9) Contract Renewal Fees
Instead of being rewarded for being a good tenant, if you wish to renew your lease after the two year contract is up, you will be expected to pay an extra months’ worth of rent in “gratitude” to the landlord. Try and negotiate this “koshin ryo” out of the contract when you first find the apartment.
Now let’s illustrate this with an example:
Monthly rent: 130,000
Management fee: 10,000
Key Money: 130,000
Agent fee: 130,000
Key exchange: 15,000
Total cost: 630,000 yen
So although your monthly rent is only 130,000 yen, you would need to pay 630,000 yen upfront. Therefore when moving in Japan, it is best to have ample savings prepared.