Pros and Cons of Renting a Budget Apartment in Japan

In this article we’ll go over the pros and cons of renting a budget apartment in Japan versus a mid-range to high-end apartment.

There are many factors that determine an apartment’s overall monthly cost. Even units in the same building can have different rent, depending on some of the main factors below.

  • Size and layout
  • Distance from nearest station (measured by number of minutes to walk to station)
  • Year built
  • Construction material (wood, reinforced concrete, steel-reinforced concrete, steel frame)
  • Floor number (the higher the floor, the higher the rent. First-floor apartments are on average less expensive)
  • Corner unit (corner units have higher average rent than middle units on the same floor)
  • Direction facing (south-facing apartments on average have higher rent)
  • Amenities
    • Examples include pre-installed A/C unit, auto lock, on-site building manager, garbage room, whether is a balcony and size of balcony, availability of on-site parking, availability of earthquake resistant construction. For very high-end apartments, amenities can include on-site gym, bilingual concierge service, party room, communal observation deck, city views from high floors, and much more.

Budget apartments

Pros:

  • Good choice for students or young professionals looking for their first apartment in Japan
  • Can be used to start your Japan life with lower move-in costs

Cons:

  • Small living space, generally around 20-sqm (215-sqft)
  • Kitchenette, rather than full kitchen
  • Lack of closets/storage space
  • For those who can’t be tied to a two-year contract, a share house or furnished apartment might make more sense
  • Very difficult to share an apartment with a roommate or significant other

Typically, budget apartments in Tokyo will be in the ¥50,000-¥60,000 ($455 – $546 USD) range. There are apartments cheaper than this, but then you might be looking at apartments that are 20+ years old in inconvenient locations.

These apartments will most likely be 1R studio apartments, although you can also find 1K apartments in this price range. Although these apartments are small, you can actually fit a surprising amount of home necessities and essentials, especially since there’s a whole market for making the most out of a studio apartment.

Here are some examples of what a typical budget apartment looks like in Tokyo:

1K apartment for rent in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo – ¥57,000/month

Since this is a recently built apartment (2018) it includes modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, and the toilet/washroom are a little separated. Although these types of things might seem minor, they can really change your comfort level when first adjusting to your new home in Japan.

  • Price: ¥57,000/month – NO KEY MONEY/NO DEPOSIT
  • Year built: 2018
  • Size: 13.26 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: No
  • Closest station: 9 min to Koiwa Station (Chuo-Sobu Line)
  • Closest major hub: 17 min to Akihabara Station; 14 min to Funabashi Station
  • Browse more listings near Koiwa Station

1R apartment for rent in Toshima Ward, Tokyo – ¥57,000/mo

Although the same monthly cost as the previous apartment, the main differences are the location and year built. It’s a little bit older, but a relatively convenient location close to the major hub of Ikebukuro Station. For those who see themselves spending more time exploring the streets of downtown Tokyo, an apartment like this might prove to be more suitable. The toilet and bathroom in this apartment are located in the same room; this does save space, but can also take a little time to get used to.

  • Price: ¥57,000/month – NO KEY MONEY/NO DEPOSIT
  • Year built: 1988
  • Size: 16.50 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: No
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 5 min to Kita-Ikebukuro Station (Tobu-Tojo Line), 9 min to Itabashi Station (Saikyo Line)
  • Closest major hub: 4 min to Ikebukuro Station
  • Browse more listings near Kita-Ikebukuro Station

Mid-range apartments

Pros:

  • Balance of price and space for a single occupant
  • Relatively easy to find apartments in this range across the city
  • Generally apartments include more features such as delivery boxes, bicycle parking, auto lock, etc.

Cons:

  • Although larger than a studio apartment, a fair amount of mid-range apartments are still a little difficult to live in with a roommate or significant other

Mid-range properties are considered apartments in the ¥70,000 – ¥120,000 ($637 – $1,092 USD) range. Although in terms of size we’re still looking at 1K apartments, it’s not uncommon to find 1LDK apartments in this range, largely depending on factors like distance to nearest station and building age.

Although these apartments might not be that much larger than budget apartments, it’s the small features that add up to make a more comfortable, livable home. For instance, you might find apartments in this price range to be built of reinforced concrete (better sound dampening) or have double-paned windows (better energy efficiency). In most cases the toilet and washroom will be separate in these apartments, unlike more affordable options. Kitchens also tend to be easier to use, with more burners, more storage space, and larger sinks.

Examples:

1LDK apartment for rent in Nakano Ward, Tokyo – ¥76,000

This is a renovated 30+ year old apartment. All things considered, if you search enough you can find a spacious apartment like this in a middle-of-the-road price.

  • Price: ¥76,000/month
  • Year built: 1974
  • Size: 33.89 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (5th)
  • Closest station: 7 min to Nogata Station (Seibu-Shinjuku Line)
  • Closest major hub: 15 min to Seibu-Shinjuku Station
  • Browse more listings near Nogata Station

1K apartment for rent in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo – ¥89,000

This is an example of a more modern apartment in this price range. Although it is technically less space, the newer construction can provide a more comfortable experience at home. Another step-up from budget apartments that you’ll notice in this price range is more storage space. This usually means larger closets and more space in the entrance (genkan) for shoes.

  • Price: ¥89,000/month
  • Year built: 2015
  • Size: 26.00 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 1 min to Hachimanyama Station (Keio Line)
  • Closest major hub: 22 min to Shinjuku Station
  • Browse more listings near Hachimanyama Station

High-end

Pros:

  • Comfortable and spacious, apartments tend to have multiple rooms
  • In very high-end buildings, there may be on-site amenities like common area gym, spa, and lounge
  • With more space, living with a significant other becomes a possibility

Cons:

  • Expensive – not just monthly costs, but initial fees will also tend to be much higher

For those looking for a very comfortable home life, you will want to go with a high-end apartment, if it’s in your budget.  You’ll want to check with your real estate agent for all the exact perks of the different apartments you’re looking at. These apartments tend to be located around major city centers, or at convenient commuting neighborhoods.

Examples:

1LDK apartment for rent in Chuo Ward, Tokyo – ¥193,500/month

While you won’t always have to reach this high of a price point for a 1LDK apartment, this apartment is priced as it is because it was recently built (2018) and is located within walking distance to Kanda and Nihombashi. Other things you’ll tend to see in this price point are the larger closet (walk-in-closet in this unit) and more space in the kitchen (three burners and more counter space here).

  • Price: ¥193,500/month
  • Year built: 2018
  • Size: 45.36 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (10th)
  • Closest station: 5 min to Asakusabashi Station (Toei Asakusa Line, Chuo-Sobu Line), 9 min to Bakurocho Station (Sobu Line)
  • Closest major hub: 4 min to Tokyo Station
  • Browse more listings near Asakusabashi Station

1LDK apartment for rent in Minato Ward, Tokyo – ¥290,000/month

This is a centrally located new apartment, ideally situated between popular downtown destinations like Omotesando and Roppongi! This is an apartment made for those who want to thrive in downtown Tokyo.

  • Price: ¥290,000/month
  • Year built: 2019
  • Size: 50.08 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (4th)
  • Closest station: 9 min to Nogizaka Station (Chiyoda subway line), 11 min to Omotesando Station (Chiyoda subway line, Ginza subway line, Hanzomon subway line), 15 min to Roppongi Station (Hibiya subway line, Toei Oedo Line)
  • Closest major hub: 2 min to Shibuya Station
  • Browse more listings near Nogizaka Station

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How to rent an apartment in Japan as a foreigner

How to rent an apartment in Japan from overseas

What documents do you need to rent an apartment in Japan?

Translation of Japanese apartment lease application

How much you should budget for move-in costs to rent an apartment in Japan?

What Japanese real estate agents want foreigners to know about renting an apartment in Japan

Average rent in Tokyo

Japanese Apartment Layout Terms

Lead photo: iStock 600133974