Japanese money and rent Image credit: iStock/ baona

How is Rent Determined in Japan?

  |   By: Aaron Baggett

Several factors influence the cost of rent in Japan, some more apparent than others. Rent will change depending on location, distance from the train station, size and layout, age of the property and even the role of real estate agents.

As with many facets of living in Japan, there’s a method in the seeming arbitrariness. Whether you’re a prospective renter or just an intrigued observer, Japan’s real estate market offers valuable insights into the broader socio-economic fabric of the nation.

Location, Location, Location

Image credit: iStock/ Aaron Chen PS2
Minato-ku is one of the most expensive wards in Tokyo.
Location is paramount in determining rent prices in Japan. Major cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto tend to have higher rental rates. More than 90% of Japan’s population lives in urban centers. Thus, rental property can be very competitive. In contrast, smaller towns and rural areas offer more affordable housing options.

Tokyo, the capital and the most populous city, has some of the highest rents in the country. Central wards like Chiyoda, Minato and Chuo can have astronomical prices, especially for new or newly renovated properties. The central six wards are Minato, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Chiyoda and Chou. The northern wards are Adachi, Arakawa, Edogawa, Itabashi, Kita, Nerima and Suginami.

Proximity to train and subway stations also significantly impacts rental prices. A property within a 5-minute walk to a station can cost considerably more than a 15-minute walk away. Some factors might not even matter to you, like desirable areas with superior transport links, schools, supermarkets and facilities, but raise the price of rent none the same.

Building Age

A traditional wooden property with tatami.Image credit: iStock/ Actogram
A traditional wooden property with tatami.
According to the Japanese real estate site chintaistyle.jp, the older a building becomes, the more likely its rent will decrease. For instance, the rent might decline by about 10% after a decade and drop close to 20% after 20 years. However, many decade-old buildings still boast features akin to those in newer properties.

Buildings constructed before 1981 are less popular due to changes in earthquake safety standards introduced that year. Wooden structures usually offer lower rents than reinforced concrete ones. Yet, due to fire safety concerns, the Tokyo government aims to eliminate wooden buildings in densely populated areas. Moreover, older buildings might be more affordable but pose a risk as they don’t adhere to the latest earthquake safety standards.

Average Cost in Tokyo

Image credit: iStock/ kohei_hara
A 1LDK will have a bedroom, living room, dining room and a kitchen.
In Japan, apartments and houses are categorized by the number of rooms or bedrooms, such as “DK” for having a dining space and kitchen or “1LDK” for having a room, living room, dining space and kitchen. The more rooms in a layout, the more expensive you can expect it to be.

Apartments in high-rise buildings or modern complexes are often priced higher than older, standalone apartments. The amenities, such as a locked entrance, parking, and communal facilities, will also influence the rent.

According to the latest reports, the average apartment cost in Tokyo in 2023 is:

  • 1R: ¥71,304
  • 1K: ¥78,391
  • 1LDK: ¥124,987
  • 2LDK: ¥187,922
  • 3LDK: ¥272,365
  • 4LDK: ¥294,290

Size Matters

average kitchen in a Japanese apartmentImage credit: iStock/ bee32
Your average kitchen in a Japanese apartment.
In Japan, apartments and houses are categorized by the number of rooms or bedrooms, such as “DK” for having a dining space and kitchen or “1LDK” for having a room, living room, dining space and kitchen. The more rooms in a layout, the more expensive you can expect the property to be. Additionally, the size of the property will change the price of rent. An apartment’s size is usually determined in two ways in Japan:

  • Tatami Mats: Traditional Japanese homes often use the size of a tatami mat as a unit of measurement. A typical tatami mat, known as “jo,” measures about 1.62 square meters. A “6-jo” room would be approximately the size of six tatami mats or about 9.72 square meters.
  • Square Meters: Modern apartments, especially those built in Western styles, are likelier to list their sizes in square meters. The average family home in Tokyo is 66 square meters. However, the average one-room apartment is 13 to 20 square meters.

Additional Costs

Image credit: iStock/ recep
A real estate agent will make finding a new home a lot easier.

In Japan, several additional costs are associated with renting a property. These costs can include:

  • Security Deposit (Shikikin): This is typically equivalent to one to two months’ rent and serves as a security against potential damages or unpaid rent.
  • Key Money (Reikin): A one-time payment to the landlord or real estate agent. It is considered a gesture of goodwill and is not refundable.
  • Agency Fees: If you use a real estate agent, you may need to pay a fee, usually equivalent to one month’s rent, for their services.
  • Maintenance Fees: In some cases, especially in apartment complexes, tenants must pay monthly maintenance fees for common area upkeep.
  • Insurance: Renters in Japan often opt for renter’s insurance to cover potential damages or accidents in the rental property.

Understanding Japan’s rent determination requires cultural understanding, economic acumen and local insight, so your best bet is to work with a real estate agent. If you have help, you can better navigate and appreciate the rental landscape. You’ll likely have a better idea of finding the property you want.

Please enable Javascript to send comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.