Amelie Marie in Tokyo experienced some crazy adventures recently. The kind of adventure that takes time to be written. I moved in Tokyo. I faced the nightmare of all foreigners living in Japan.
Struggling to find an interesting job opportunity, I had given up living in my expensive flat and chosen to move in with my in-laws, at least for a while. I had send the letter of renunciation to the lease, as it was coming to an end in July, and I had to pay 100,000yens for the renewal (!).
And then my chance turned. I got some interesting opportunities, and I got my dream job – okay, internship for now – “intern in communication” in a Japanese company. Along with that, I got a part-time job in a newly built Japanese trade company specialized in Japanese – French trade (networking, networking, networking!).
Except that… now I was flat free ! Gosh, good job Amelie !
I had one week top to find a new flat. Challenge accepted. On Monday, I went with my family in law in a real estate agency, in my area (Takadanobaba being THE district for real estate agency, it is quite easy).
It took at least half an hour to explain my situation, “yes, I am foreigner” but “I am maried to a Japanese”, “no they are not my parents, but my parents in law”. After what felt like 3 000 years, finally the agent’s face glowed with delight when his brain connected the dot. Everything was so clear. And then he explained, that anyway, it was better not to put my name on the contract, nor to mention me at all. The flat should be rent by my husband alone. Because I am a foreigner. I cringe but let it flow. Change Japan is not my fight of the day.
It is quite difficult to realize how different is the real estate system in Japan. I felt very limited in my choice. You give a list of what you would like and the agency offers one, two choices at best. I wish I could have seen a more complete catalog of flat. But nope.
A young employee took us for a visit. Nope, and nope. Too small, too noisy. I am at loss. At our return, the agent had found a great place. More expensive than what we asked for, but a really great flat.
Here we are again in the company car. I fell in love with that beautiful little flat of 28 meter square. Yes, no view on the city, but a real Japanese bathroom, and even what we could call a “kitchen” (Japan scale I mean).
I can assume everyone felt it was a good choice. My in-laws, the agent guy traumatized to have to deal with a foreigner, and I. Now we had to talk MONEY. As painfull as it can get. Not only do you have to deal with a moutain of paperwork, but fees just keep rising, till the point you stop caring.
– (敷金) deposit: one / three months of rent (you will never see it again)
– Keys money (wtf?): one / two months
– Agency fee: one month
– (礼金), “reikin”, gift to the landowner (!!): this is the most unbearable of all fees, because it is truly a gift. One to three months rent, offered to the owner.
– Cleaning fee: one month
If you are moving out of some flat, you have to pay cleaning fee for your departure (50,000 yens in my case), and yes, you do not get back your deposit (“A deposit? What ?! deposit”).
All those fees are not necessarily asked when renting a new place. But even though it might be written “礼金 0 敷金 0”, mysterious fees appear out of nowhere (cleaning fee / key money reaching three months…). Anyway. Moving in Japan is not easy, and that is not even including all the contracts you have to take care of (water, electricity, gaz, internet…).
After the deal, and the execution of bank account of all relatives around me, I had to organize the moving. My new flat, being not far from the previous one, was really easy to get to… only 400 meters ! I started moving stuffs by feet (I actually carried a lot of heavy stuffs) and was researching for a truck and a driver on Internet. A lot of moving companies in Tokyo offer such services…
I sent a lot of e-mails and no answer was ever satisfying: insurance fee, protective blanket fee, a detailed list of every item to carry including weight and dimension (if the case it did not correspond, I would have to pay “additional fee”), the moving had to be in one shot under one hour, or I would have to pay – AGAIN – additional fee…
I networked a little, asked around, found a very nice guy (do not hesitate to ask for contact) and my dear friends came to my rescue on a very hot Sunday. I’ll spare you the technicalities of this dark period of my life in Japan, but my furniture and I are doing well (although the bank account is still in surgery, not sure it will make it).
I moved in Tokyo.