Living in Japan

Move Into These Central Tokyo Apartments for About $1,000

It is eminently possible to find an budget apartment outside central Tokyo. It’s a bigger challenge to find an affordable apartment inside the Yamanote line, and an even bigger challenge to find a place with low move-in costs.

It’s a challenge but not an impossibility. In this article, we discuss how high move-in costs can potentially torpedo your budget.

We give examples of listings near major stations in central Tokyo where the move-in costs are approximately equal to your monthly costs. If you ask someone who has ever rented an apartment in Japan, they would probably tell you that this criteria is too high a bar to set.

It’s true. These types of properties are not abundant in the city center, but they do exist.

Can You Afford this Apartment?

Say you are looking for an apartment in Ebisu, which is considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in central Tokyo.

Armed with a $1,000 monthly budget, at the current exchange rate, you could afford an apartment with monthly costs of ¥110,700.

Doing a little further research (on Real Estate Japan’s Resources Blog, of course!), you find that the average cost of a studio (1K or 1R) apartment in Ebisu is about ¥126,700.

So when you find the following listing, you’re thrilled to find an apartment with such reasonable monthly costs. Monthly rent is ¥76,000 and maintenance fees are ¥4,000, for a total monthly cost of ¥80,000.

The monthly cost for a studio apartment in this building in Ebisu is ¥80,000.

But then you scroll down to the “Total to Move-In” Costs in the listing, and find that it costs approximately ¥272,000 to move in.

In Real Estate Japan’s listings we display an estimated “Total to Move In” amount so that it’s clear what your true costs are to rent the apartment. In this case, the move-in costs are ¥272,000 for an apartment with a monthly cost of ¥80,000.

The total move-in costs may come as a shock if you are new to Japan or if you come from a country where move-in costs are typically lower. For example, in the United States, on average landlords charge about two months’ rent to move into an apartment (the first month’s rent plus a one month security deposit).

In our example above, the total move-in fees are about 3.4 times the monthly cost. What may be more surprising is that this is a relatively low multiple.

In fact, the industry standard in Japan is for move-in costs to equal between 5.5 and 7 times the monthly rent.

If you are not familiar with terms like “key money” and “guarantor fee” please see this article: How to Avoid Hidden Costs When Renting an Apartment in Japan

This doesn’t even consider the cost of appliances and furniture. Please see this article for a detailed discussion of the cost of appliances, lighting fixtures, and other hidden costs of renting an apartment in Japan.

The simple lesson here is that you need to have a lot of savings on hand to rent an apartment in Japan.

Another alternative is to find apartments that allow you to charge your move-in costs to a credit card. The GPM Housing Service, which is affiliated with Real Estate Japan, offers credit card payment (for both move-in and monthly costs) for 2,000+ apartments throughout Japan.

Now back to our discussion!

Below are a few examples of apartments where the move-in costs are approximately equal to the monthly costs of about $1,000.

Move Into These Apartments for About $1,000

Please be aware that the costs we give below are calculated based on the listing data provided by the agent. Please inquire directly to the agent for the exact costs.

Furnished Studio Apartment For Rent in Ebisu

Furnished 18-sqm studio apartment (1R) for rent in Ebisu. Please click on the photo for the full listing and to inquire directly to the agent.

Estimated costs for the apartment above:

Monthly Total Costs: ¥93,000 ($840)

Estimated Total to Move In: ¥98,000

Partially Furnished Studio Apartment in Shibuya

Partially furnished 21-sqm studio apartment for rent in Shibuya. Please click on the photo for more details and to inquire directly to the agent.

Estimated costs for the apartment above::

Monthly Total Costs: ¥117,040 ($1,057)

Estimated Total to Move In: ¥117,040

Furnished Studio Apartment for Rent Shinjuku

Furnished 14-m studio apartment for rent, 13-min from JR Shinjuku Station. Please click on the photo for full listing and to inquire directly to the agent.

Estimated costs for the apartment above::

Monthly Total Costs: ¥115,000 ($1,040)

Estimated Total to Move In: ¥115,000

Studio Apartment for Rent Ebisu

Studio apartment for rent, 12-min walk from Ebisu Station. Please click on the photo for the full listing, interior photos, and to inquire directly to the agent.

Estimated costs for the apartment above::

Monthly Total Costs: ¥115,540 ($1,044)

Estimated Total to Move In: ¥115,540

Furnished Apartment For Rent in Naka Meguro

Furnished 15-sqm studio apartment for rent, 13-min walk from Naka Meguro Station. Please click on the photo for the full listing and to inquire directly to the agent.

Estimated costs for the apartment above::

Monthly Total Costs: ¥92,000 ($831)

Estimated Total to Move In: ¥92,000

These are only a few examples of low move-in cost apartments. To find other apartments with low move-in costs, please click on buttons below!

LOW MOVE-IN COST APARTMENTS in TOKYO 23 WARDS

LOW MOVE-IN COST APARTMENTS IN OSAKA

LOW MOVE-IN COST APARTMENTS IN NAGOYA

LOW MOVE-IN COST APARTMENTS THROUGHOUT JAPAN

You may also be interested in: The other hidden costs of living in an apartment in Japan