How to get rid of your things when you move out of your Japanese apartment

I recently moved out of the small 1K apartment I had been living in for over three years.

Over the course of those three years I accumulated a lot of knick knacks and trash. And to be completely honest, I eventually accumulated an amount of trash that was no longer manageable by myself. That, combined with a surprising amount of furniture in a 3rd-floor apartment with no elevator, meant I was going to need to shell out some cash if I didn’t want to break my back. If you find yourself in a similar boat, today I’ll explain some of the options I considered and what I eventually went with.

Note that these options will be in Japanese, but you should be able to get by without major difficulty using Google Translate or if you ask a friend for help.

Option 1: Getting rid of the garbage yourself and just hiring a moving company

If you’ve actually kept on top of your garbage then you’ve won most of the battle already.

Moving companies themselves often don’t cost too much, depending on your area and how much stuff you have. When I initially started looking into moving, I used this quote inquiry form on Suumo. That ended up being a bit of a mistake, as you can’t provide that much information on the form itself, and your inbox will be flooded with emails from a hundred different moving companies for a few weeks.

Admittedly though, getting to see the full range of prices was enlightening to a degree. The absolute lowest I saw amidst the horde of emails was ¥15,000 ($137 USD), although I knew that number was too good to be true considering, well, everything about my situation.

In my opinion it would be best to search for companies specifically in your area, or at least for a chain with a moving center close by. Inquiring with a company directly and explaining your situation lets you get an actual idea of the fees without flooding your inbox or tricking you into flashing believing you’re only going to need to pay ten or twenty thousand yen ($92 to $184 USD).

Also, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, I should really get ahead on my garbage,” then I would recommend this article which explains a bit about garbage sorting along with large garbage disposal in Tokyo. We have a lot of tenants who are caught off guard by how early you need to call ahead to get large garbage picked up in time, so better safe than sorry!

Option 2: Hiring a moving company and a garbage company separately

This was what my plan was until the clock started ticking and things got tight. I did a lot of research and luckily there were a good amount of companies that offered services to take away your garbage, large or small. My initial plan was to use a company called One Up Life, but after inquiring with them, I never actually got a reply… Maybe they saw the photos I sent and got scared off?

After One Up Life I looked into a couple of other companies, including one called Earth, and another called First Step.

One of the biggest stressors in my mind about arranging both a moving company and a garbage company was timing. I would likely need to have the garbage company come one day, then the moving company the next, which would result in a lot of wasted time. I could try to arrange them on the same day, but usually these companies can’t guarantee exact time frames until the day of, and if they happened to arrive at similar times, or came out of order, things could quickly get messy. 

In the end I didn’t actually inquire with Earth or First Step, but the latter’s advertising of a service to do both garbage disposal and moving at the same time piqued my interest. I wanted to look for a company that seemed as upfront as possible and easy to deal with, so I did a bit more searching. Which leads me to option 3…

Option 3: Companies that take your garbage and move your furniture at the same time

I eventually inquired with a company called Power Seller via LINE and got all of the answers I needed. I had no problem scheduling a time for them to come by, although they did have a lot of questions about the items and specifics about my old apartment. No one likes to answer a million questions, especially when you’re stressed about an upcoming move, but they gave me an exact quote which ended up not altering in the slightest on moving day, so I’m definitely glad I answered their questions!

Specifically, I used this plan. ¥55,000 ($502 USD), the listed price, is comparable to having hired a moving company and garbage company separately. The actual price I was quoted did jump up a bit from that amount, since my old building didn’t have an elevator, along with the size and amount of stuff needing to be disposed of and moved. To be honest I’m sure I could have found something more economical had I really tried, but I was mostly trying to focus on minimizing my stress. And I think this company did a good job at helping me out with that.

One awkward thing was that since this company focused more on the taking of items part of things than the moving part, I did have to pack my stuff myself. They sent me a bunch of cardboard boxes well ahead of time though, which I used for packing. The staff arrived a bit earlier than I expected so I was still in the midst of packing, but they were very patient and helpful with everything, despite their evident shock at the amount of stuff I managed to fit into a 1K. I had prepared a decent amount of cash on top of the quoted amount just in case, but as I mentioned, the total amount in the end was exactly what they previously told me. 

When you’re moving, what kind of company (or companies) you’ll need to hire depends a lot on a ton of factors that you might not even realize until too late. Even if it’s just in the back of your mind, thinking about this sort of thing ahead of time can save you a lot of stress and money in the long run!

By Nathan

Nathan works for the Japan Room Finder, helping foreigners find their home in Japan. He’s American and has lived in Japan for about three years. Read Nathan’s self-intro to find out what brought him here!

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Lead photo: Nathan’s 1K apartment right before he moved out, photo: Nathan

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