When I landed in Japan, my Japanese boyfriend had already rented a flat in Tokyo. I didn't have anything to do, except take all the space in our closet. But recently, I went through a pretty crazy adventure and had to move out to a new apartment. Challenged accepted!
How I ended up with 1-week to find a flat in Tokyo and to move out.
I was struggling to find a job and had given up keeping my current flat to move in with my in-laws. At least for a while, I thought. I had notified the building manager that I was renouncing the lease, coming to an end in July. But then, a job offer fell onto my lap, to handle external and internal communication at a Japanese company. Great! But within 8 days, I would be without a roof over my head. Well done.
One week to get it all done.
My kind and patient in-laws came to my rescue and booked an appointment with a real estate agency nearby. It took us nearly half an hour to simply explain that, yes, I’m French, but yes, I’m married to a Japanese. No, they are my in-laws, not my parents. After what felt like 100 years, the agent’s face glowed with delight as his brain was finally connecting the dots.
He explained that, well, anyway, better not indicated my name on the lease contract, even better, just not mention me at all. Better have my husband renting the property as a bachelor, he said, because I’m a foreigner. I cringed a little, but let it go. Changing Japanese society wasn’t on the menu that day.
I believe quite difficult to explain how different the real estate system is in Japan.
First of all, I felt my choice was very limited. I had to tell my preferences, and the agent only suggested two locations. I would have appreciated some more options, but nope.
Another agent took us out for the visits. Both were quite bad and I was losing my nerves. But as we came back to the agency, agent number 1 was smiling. He had found a great place. More expensive, he said, but really great.
Here we go again for a visit. This time, it hit the jackpot. The place was small but clean, lots of daylight and omfg, 28 meter square! No view on the city, but a nice bathroom. I could even pretend like I had a kitchen. Pretend, I said.
Everyone agreed this was a good choice. Six days to go.
At the time, I didn’t realize what I was in for. I didn’t imagine how much paperwork my in-laws would have to go through with and worst, how much money we had to pay. The fees kept rising till the point I stopped counting.
- 敷金 (deposit): one / three months of rent
- Keys money: one / two months
- Agency fee: one month
- 礼金: a hefty gift to the landowner, money that you shall never see again. One to three months rent.
- Cleaning fee: one month
If you’re moving out, you also have to pay a cleaning fee (50,000 yens in my case). And yes, don’t even dream of getting back your deposit. It’s like Fight Club. There’s no such thing a a deposit.
You’ll have to pay most of these fees when renting a flat in Tokyo.
Even though some ads indicate « 礼金 0 敷金 0 » (no owner gift, no deposit), mysterious fees will appear out of nowhere. Renting a flat in Tokyo isn’t easy and that’s not even including all the contracts you have to take care of (water, electricity, gas, internet, please just kill me now).
After around 2 hours of filling the paperwork and emptying my in-laws bank account, I had to plan the moving. My newly found flat was within a reasonable walking distance from the new one. So as soon as I got the key, on Wednesday, I started moving stuffs out by myself, including some shelves.
At the same time, I was trying to find a moving company for a move at the last minute. Plenty of choices here in Tokyo. But the cost was killing me as well.
After a tons of email, I still couldn’t find a satisfying moving company. I had to list every single item with the exact dimension, or I would have to pay an extra fee. I had to cover an insurance fee. A blanket fee. The move needed to be done within 60 minutes top, or I’d have to pay another additional fee.
Friday. I asked around and ended finding an old Japanese guy doing moves on the side with his truck. My friends came to my help as well and on Sunday, and I’ll spare you the details of this dark period of my life in Japan, I managed to move everything to my new place.
My bank account is still under recovery, status: unsure it’ll make it.
I moved in Tokyo.