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Introduction to Renting as a JETEdit

One of the most unique elements of the Tokyo JET experience is that we each choose our own apartments or share houses instead of living in teachers dorms or school housing like in other prefectures. This is great because we get to live anywhere in the city we want -- perhaps even within walking distance of our schools -- and get to ensure our living arrangements more accurately reflect our needs and desires!

However, it comes with its own set of stresses. Namely, Tokyo JETs only have ONE day to view and sign for apartments in person. Which is why it is imperative that you begin researching now and creating clear and reasonable expectations and limits. That way, when you finally begin to email your real estate agent (usually in late June), you will be fully prepared to make a quick and informed decision about your new home.

Every Tokyo JET's apartment hunting experience is different, but on this page we hope to provide you with enough information to give you a solid foundation for this new adventure.

Quick Beginning FAQEdit

How much does rent cost?Edit

Tokyo JET rent is almost NEVER SUBSIDIZED by our contracting organizations. And while that might seem like a drawback at first, the JET Program's salary is more than enough to support your expenditures.
As a general life rule, you should look to spend no more than one third of your monthly salary on rent -- with responsible budgeting, this range allows for plenty of money for your other living and entertainment expenses as well as savings.
Given the first year JET monthly salary of ¥280,000/mo, you're looking at a generous maximum of ¥84,000/mo. This is generally the highest Tokyo JETs pay with most people paying within the ¥50,000-75,000/mo range. The farther you get from central Tokyo, the cheaper the rent. And for significantly smaller, less livable sized rooms, you can pay as low as ¥35,000 a month.

How much should I expect to spend on utilities?Edit

Whether utilities are included in your rent is going to depend on your apartment / share house. A single JET living alone can expect to pay ¥3500-5000/mo each for gas, electricity, and water depending on your usage. Water bills are usually paid every two months depending on usage.

Can I live outside Tokyo? Edit

Yes! If you work close to Saitama or Chiba or Kanagawa, etc., you can go ahead and find an apartment there that suits your taste. In most cases, it is cheaper to live outside Tokyo.

Can I live with my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse/bff/pet lizard?Edit

Absolutely. You'll have most trouble with the pet lizard, honestly. And that's just a matter of finding an apartment that allows pets. As for the housemates of the human variety, there are few limitations in Tokyo.

Will I be turned down from renting because of my race or nationality?Edit

Unfortunately there are no anti-discrimination laws in Japan which protect renters from being denied residency due to race/nationality. Therefore you may encounter landlords who reject your application because you are not Japanese. Your real estate agent will help you find landlords who are open to renting to foreign residents.

What do Tokyo JETs' apartments look like? (Tokyo JET video submissions)Edit

Get a feel for how Tokyo JETs live! Current JETs, want to submit your videos? Feel free to add them to this page or send them to tjetinfo@gmail.com and we'll put them up.
Tokyo JET Program Apartment (15m² 1K Loft)

Tokyo JET Program Apartment (15m² 1K Loft)

1K apartment

¥70,500/mo (¥68,000 + fees)

Setagaya/Shibuya

15 square meters + loft

Sumida Apartment

Sumida Apartment

1K apartment

¥75,000/mo

Sumida

≈25 square meters

Doing Your ResearchEdit

APARTMENTS SELL VERY FAST IN TOKYO!! You may find that the apartment you decide on with your agent is taken by the time you arrive in Japan. Most landlords want you to rent the property as soon as possible. They are willing to hold the property for about two weeks usually, but in some rare cases, for about a month. In order to help you remain patient and flexible, you should begin to familiarize yourself with Japanese accommodations.
As you begin to search the internet for apartments/share houses, it is important to keep in mind that your goal at this point is not to find the exact apartment you want to sign for. Rather, you want to have a selection of ideal apartment styles in order to show your assigned real estate agent the gist of what you are looking for. In the end, though, each agent will have a separate selection of contracts which they will be able to offer you which are similar to your ideas and are currently available.

TerminologyEdit

As you search for apartments you will see many keywords on the floor plans. Here are some of the terms you will need to be familiar with.

Apartment StylesEdit

Symbol Meaning Explanation
1,2,3 Number of rooms This is the number of rooms with a door.
R Room 1R (1 Room) apartments are studios. There will be no separation between the small kitchen sink\burner and the room in these minimalist living spaces.
K Kitchen 1K apartments will have a door separating a hallway-sized kitchen from the single room. A majority of JETs in the downtown areas own this style of apartment.
D Dining 1DK apartments will have a slightly larger kitchen space. This is NOT a dining room like you may be used to in Western style homes. Theoretically this dining space should be large enough for a small 1-2 person table and chairs. (Theoretically.) Then it will have a door to the other room.
L Living 1LDK apartments will have a large undivided kitchen/living space similar to a studio apartment. You can reasonably expect this space to fit a 4 person dining table or a 2-3 person couch with (possibly) a small entertainment center. In addition to this room there will be a separate bedroom that may often have bamboo (tatami) mat flooring.
アパート Apartment The word "apartment" in Japanese refers to less modern two-story apartment buildings usually made of wood.
マンシォン Mansion The word "mansion" in Japanese refers to more modern three-or-more-story apartment buildings usually made of steel and concrete.

Floor Plan TermsEdit

Term English Explanation
洋室
(you-shitsu)
Western Room Western style rooms have wooden floors instead of bamboo (tatami) floors.
和室
(wa-shitsu)
Japanese Room Japanese style rooms have bamboo (tatami) floors instead of wooden floors.
帖(J)
(jo)
Unit of measure A jo is a unit of area measurement for rooms based on the size of a bamboo mat. As general estimate, 1 jo = approx. 1.5 square meters.
フローリング Flooring "Flooring" refers to wood or faux wood floors as opposed to bamboo (tatami).
玄関(玄)
(genkan)
Entrance The genkan is your entrance space / mudroom with a recessed floor where you remove and store your shoes before entering your apartment.
トイレ
(toile)
Toilet The toilet / lavatory may be separate from your bath/shower room.
ユニットバス Unit Bath The bath/shower room may be separate from your toilet / lavatory.
Laundry A spot designated for your washing machine. (Often indicated by an ⮽ symbol)
Refrigerator A spot designated for your refrigerator. (Sometimes indicated by an ⮽ symbol)
クローゼット
物入(monoire)
押入(oshiire)
Closet
Cupboard
Storage
NOTE: Not all apartments will have closets!
バルコニー Balcony You will use the balcony for air-drying your laundry.
ロフト Loft A lofted space reached via ladder. Often large enough for a futon or extra storage.

Contract and Fee TermsEdit

Term English Explanation
保証人
(hoshounin)
Guarantor A guarantor is usually required for foreign residents attempting to rent in Japan. Your contracting organization will act as your guarantor. For Public School JETs, the Tokyo BOE will only act as a guarantor for the real estate agent they assign to you. If you choose your own realtor, you will need to find another guarantor or a guarantor-free apartment.
敷金
(shikikin)
Deposit Deposit for renting. Usually about 1 month's rent. This will be returned upon moving (after deductions for cleaning/repairs).
礼金
(reikin)
Gift / Key Money A second, traditional Japanese deposit for renting. Usually about one month's rent. This is usually not returned upon moving out. Some apartments do not charge this fee and will only charge a deposit.
共益費
(kyouekihi)
Management Fee This is a monthly fee which covers the cost of building management. Usually about 500 yen/month.
仲介手数料
(chukai-tesuryo)
Agent Fee This fee is a commission price paid to your real estate agent. Usually one month's rent plus tax.
保険料
(hokenryo)
Insurance This insurance is required to protect against fire/water damage. Usually about 500-1000 yen/month.

Search ToolsEdit

Try doing some searches online to familiarize yourself with Japanese apartments.
If you are a private school JET, you can find your school on Google Maps and begin to search for apartments specifically in that area. If you do not know the name of your school yet, don't worry! Just focus on specifics of your ideal apartment layout for the time being.
Please note! These websites and searches are primarily for you to find out what you can afford and where, but a real estate agent is your best bet for up-to-date and current listings. Even if you find an apartment you really like online it may not be available.

Apartment Search Websites

Real Estate Japan Inc. Full English search and support for foreign residents
Best Estate Full English search and support for foreign residents (Global Trust Networks)
Suumo Japanese only, LGBT support options
Lifull Homes Japanese only
At Home Japanese only
Tokyo Cheapo Rent Map Full English interactive map of rent by area in the central part of Tokyo

Apartment Wish ListEdit

While you do your research, create a Wish List to give to your real estate agent when they contact you (see below). This will ensure your agent can find you something that suits your needs. The more specific you are, the better your agent will be able to narrow their search to things you will like! But also be willing to remain flexible and clarify which items are absolutely necessary and which ones are negotiable.
  • Minimum Rent: You can pay 30,000 yen/month to stay in a box, but is it worth it?
  • Maximum Rent: It is recommended that you keep your rent lower than one third of your monthly salary. (Don't forget you also pay taxes and utility bills!)
  • Size & Layout: 1Ks are suitable for singles, but if you're coming in pairs or more you might want to check out 2(L)DKs
  • Building Age: The newer it is, the safer and more expensive. Though the building may have more fancy gadgets, such as a locked lobby in which salesmen (NHK etc.) cannot enter without permission
  • Area: It is prudent to provide your real estate agent with the address of your school so that they can find apartments nearby or on convenient train lines.
    • Distance to the station: Usually shown in minutes, this is how long it takes to walk to the nearest station
    • Commute Time: Would you enjoy a brisk walk to school every day? Or perhaps you enjoy the calm morning zen of zoning out to some music on a long train ride? NOTE: Your daily commute is paid for by your CO!
    • Specific neighborhood: Do you want to ignore your school and instead live near a specific trendy area like Shibuya, Shimokitazawa, or Kichijouji?
  • Other Personal Requirements
    • New building? Old building?
    • Wooden building (cheaper)? Steel or concrete (earthquake safe)?
    • Ground floor? Third floor?
    • Wood flooring or Bamboo/tatami?
    • Washing machine in your room? In the building? Nearby coin laundry?
    • Closet?
    • Loft?
    • Balcony?
    • Windows?
    • Pets?
    • Internet?

Real Estate AgentsEdit

Both public and private JETs will be put in touch with an assigned real estate agent toward the end of June. (As the real estate market is constantly fluctuating and available apartments will change, these emails will come fairly late, so please do not panic if you do not hear from them right away.)
You are allowed to decline the assigned agent and search by yourself for an agent of your choosing. However, it will require more work and a possibly a high level of Japanese ability on your part. ALSO NOTE that your contracting organization may not agree to act as your guarantor if you choose to search alone.
  • Tokyo BOE Public School JETs are advised to use the services of Relocation Japan, an intermediary company contracted by the Tokyo Board of Education to help JETs find apartments. The BoE will NOT act as your guarantor if you choose to decline the services of Relocation Japan. Relocation Japan will assign each JET to a real estate agency and intervene as needed. Rent is paid to Relocation Japan via bank transfer. Communication with the landlord may also be done through them. CLAIR and the BOE ask that JETs bring enough funds to cover all the initial moving costs (1 - 2 months rent, agent fees, security deposit, key money) which is several times the cost the of 1 month's rent. If you are unable to pay for everything up front, please consult with Relocation Japan. Relocation Japan will also assist JETs in creating an affordable payment plan, so that you will not need to pay all of your initial moving costs up front if you are unable to do so.
  • Private School JETs are advised to use the services of Global Trust Networks, a relocation company contracted by the Shigaku Zaidan to help JETs find apartments. They will put you in contact with a real estate agent who will help you in your apartment search. The agent fee will be 50% of one month’s rent. There is also a guarantor fee of 30% of one month’s rent. The company will advise you on how to pay rent.

After Arrival: Apartment Viewing, Signing, and Move-inEdit

In late June, after you've been put in touch with your real estate agent, you will correspond via email in order to line up a handful of apartments to view.

Then after arrival you will meet with them in person and they will take you to view them and choose the best one for you.

This will happen in varying ways depending on your Board of Education, School, and Entry Group.

IMPORTANT NOTE about Group B: Your group will be apartment hunting directly before Obon -- a traditional Japanese holiday to honor one's ancestors. During this week-long holiday, the vast majority of the country's business shut down and people return to their hometowns to celebrate. This will impact your move-in process slightly as your real estate agent will not be available for email or consultation at all during this time. However, things will proceed smoothly and you needn't worry about the delays.

Public School JETsEdit

ViewingEdit

Public School JETs will be given a specific day during Extended Orientation for apartment viewing. Your agent will arrange to meet you on this day. You may end up joining a small group of JETs who have been assigned to the same agent due to their schools' proximity to yours. Together, you will travel to the apartments you have selected in your email correspondence.
You should come prepared to make a decision! Take notes, photos, measurements -- anything that you need to make an informed decision. Be sure to ask questions about the cost of rent AND fees for each apartment. (Agents usually use translation apps or hire translators to help with the language barrier.)
You will have ONE assigned day for viewing apartments. If you are uncomfortable choosing between the apartments you see on this day, you will need to arrange to view more apartments on your own (very limited) time.

SigningEdit

At the end of the viewing day you will return to the real estate agent's office to sign for the apartment. This is when you will be given an official list of fees and rules (in English). If you choose not to sign for any apartments on this day, you will have the rest of the evening to review your options. You can either decide on one of the apartments the next day, or decide to decline the Board of Education's support in favor of finding your own accommodations.

Move-inEdit

After apartment hunting, you will participate in a one-week homestay while Extended Orientation continues. During the last few days of orientation, you will be given the key to your new apartment by your real estate agent and will move your things from your homestay house directly to your new home.
Show/Hide Public School Information

Private School JETsEdit

ViewingEdit

This process may vary depending on your school. Do not hesitate to ask questions of them about the process as it is specific to you. However, you can widely expect to be placed in temporary housing of some kind (hotel, sharehouse, short stay) for 1-2 weeks while apartment hunting. You may have several days during which to view and decide on apartments. Your JTEs or supervisors may volunteer to help you search.
Each JET is to make an individual appointment with the realtor assigned to you and get your school's approval for the appointment dates a couple of days in advance if you wish those days to be considered work days. You should come prepared to make a decision! Take notes, photos, measurements -- anything that you need to make an informed decision. Be sure to ask questions about the cost of rent AND fees for each apartment. (Agents usually use translation apps or hire translators to help with the language barrier.)

SigningEdit

At the end of the viewing day you will return to the real estate agent's office to sign for the apartment. This is when you will be given an official list of fees and rules (in English).

Move-inEdit

After you have signed, you will likely need to wait at least a week before move in. (Especially those in Entry Group B.) Then you will be given the key to your new apartment by your real estate agent and will move all of your things from your temporary housing directly to your new home.
Show/Hide Private School Information

Upfront CostsEdit

The last thing we need to talk about is how much you will need to pay up front. This is probably where you might freak out a bit, so take a deep breath... Sitting down? Comfortable? Awesome.

Rent and Other Potential Fees Cost
Partial August rent (move in halfway through Aug) less than one month's rent
September rent one month's rent
Deposit (some apartments may not charge this) one month's rent
Key/Gift Money (some apartments may not charge this) one month's rent
Agent’s Commission / Processing Fee (some apartments may not charge this) one month’s rent + 8% tax
Guarantor Fee (private school JETs / JETs using personal realtors may have to pay this fee) one month's rent (or less)
Partial August Renter's/Fire insurance (see below)
September Renter's/Fire insurance approx. ¥2,000/month
Lock exchange fee (ensures only you own a key to the apt) approx. ¥15,000 - ¥20,000
Total: 5-6 times one month's rent

"Wait! I don't have that kind of money!" Don't worry! Your contracting organization will help you create a payment plan that works for you and that takes into consideration the timing of your first few paychecks.

Alternative ProcessesEdit

The absolute best part about the Tokyo JET Programme is the ability to completely customize your experience. If you are not interested in the apartment hunt as described above, check out these variations based on actual JET experiences:

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