Friday, February 27, 2009

How to rent an apartment for gaijin student in Japan.

Being a gaijin (外人) in Japan, one of the most inconvenient thing is to find and rent a house in Japan. Here's my personal experience.

First of all, MONEY!
In Japan, renting a house is like sucking out all your life saving. Normally, any house owner in Japan would require you to pay

敷金 - shikikin : Deposit Money
礼金 - reikin : Gift Money

Minimum 1 month rent each. Normally 1 month 2 months or 2 months 1 month or 2 months 2 months. I asked my Japanese lab mate once, they think it's strange if owner doesnt collect shikikin and reikin, they think something hanky-panky happened to the house if nil is collected. Well, for gaijin like me, I dont mind if I could find a place without a need of paying those. :)

Except reikin shikikin, prepare one month rent agency money, key money, insurance money, cleanning money and one month pre-rental.

Personal touch :
I found a house from an agency call Able. Pronounce E-i-bu-ru. エイブル.

A mansion cost 67k yen rent monthly and 5kyen management fees.

Mansion Management Fees: 5k yen
Reikin: 67k yen
Shikikin: 67k yen
Pre rental: Nil. (After showing my difficult face on the final sum he made, the agent made a call again and finally agree to waive this fee)
Agency Money: 35.175k yen (Able collects 52.5% rent)
Cleanning money: 15k yen
Key Money: 15k yen
Insurance: 9k yen (Bought from school, much cheaper, Able's insurance cost 20k yen).

A whoppy 210k yen!! (RM 7875 with RM3.75 to 100yen currency rate).

It's sometimes negotiable, just bring your "I am poor student with no money face" with you along to the agency.

Then, location, location, location
Anywhere inside Tokyo, cost fortune! Do a lot of survey from the internet, normally all the properties are listed online.

It's also expensive if:
House is near to the station.
Final stop of a station.
Train station has more than one line.
Express train that stop at that station.

Personal Touch:
My university is Tokyo Institute of Technology Oookayama campus in Meguro-ku, Tokyo. So, I do not mind a little bit of travel to Kanagawa-ken (which is out of Tokyo) along Meguro train line as long as I do not need to change train.

It certainly require you to speak Japanese or know Kanji (漢字). Bring along Japanese friend with you if you are not sure.

After you decided on a property, go to the agency listed online. Normally, that agency specialize only in that local area.

Firstly, once you enter the shop, they will ask you to fill up forms, name, address, personal info. Then, comes the main part, they will ask you what kind of houses you are looking for.

1) Budget (rent + management fees).
2) Along which train line.
3) A little bit of your background.
4) When do you need to move.
5) How far away from train station is tolerable.
6) Desire condition.
For me, I wanted western style room, indoor washing machine place, 2nd floor and above, 1R, 1K or 1DK.
(1R = 1 Room - room and kitchen together,
1K = 1 Kitchen - Kitchen and room seperated,
1DK = 1 Dining Kitchen - with dining room)

Normally other conditions includes, toilet and bath together or separate? (Separate cost higher), bicycle parking? facing which direction? (South cost higher).

Then comes the crucial part, they will scramble along all their available properties, and MADE PHONE CALLS. The conversation normally goes like this,

" Hi, this is Koyama from Able, I am planning to introduce this property to a customer and wonder is it still available?"

" *short pause - Checking* Yes, still available, go ahead!"

"However, the customer now is international student, I am wondering is it still okay."

*Long hesitation*
(This is indeed the most annoying part, it's more difficult than a job interview. Questions like, which university? can they speak Japanese? How do they receive their income? Which country? Malaysia? Nope, terrorist!!! *click......* It usually takes more than 2 calls to complete the inquiries.)

Then, they will show you the "O-Kei" (okay) properties. Look through each property carefully, Be very sure what you want, what you didnt like for example too expensive, too small, too far, before asking to see the house.

Field Trip
After you decided you kidda like those few houses they introduce, ask to see the houses.

Firstly to notice is the neighborhood. As Japan is considerably safe country, it shouldn't be causing too much problem. Also, is it quiet enough, peaceful? near to the traffic is usually annoying. Then inside the house, is it bright enough? enough sunlight? is there any blocking view from your balcony or front door?

Back to the Agency
Think! think! reconsider all the available choices. Normally the agent would push to close the deal with you. You could reject them politely and say you needed more time to think. It took me 2 full weeks, various field trip, to finally found a house. Stressful but satisfying experience.

Once decided on a house, it's all legal stuff, contracts, insurance, foreigners would need guarantor, consult your university on this matter. You would need to have alien card, 印鑑 inkan (name ink) when you are making your payment.

It's definitely not an easy task to find a house you like, mainly due to the language barrier and the sky high cost. My lab mate was being really helpful in helping me to find a house. Especially my tutor who even offer his help to go to the agency together. However, I was thinking this tedious stuff would be better not to bother others. huhuhu!! I will be moving starting coming Saturday, 4 days for me to slowly move my stuff. and slowly furnish my new home, should be fun. :)

So any friends of mine who are reading this, you will know what I want if you receive my phone calls from Saturday onwards! Muahahah!!


lisa said...

hi! this is really informative. I think it's seriously expensive lo the rental plus everything.. can die wei. Need to think wisely if i were to move. Thanks for sharing!

stevelee67 said...

sounds that you enjoy it.

luckily you didnt call me :p

Khek said... rich wor.. move to mansion!!!

Kim Huey said...

you have no idea the definition of "Mansion" in Japan.... :<

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