Tokyo Short-Term Apartments – Why choose a short-term apartment over a long-term rental?

In this article, we go over the advantages and disadvantages of renting a short-term apartment in Tokyo and give examples of different types of short-term apartments you can rent now.

  • Why choose a short-term apartment
  • Some things to be aware of when you rent a short-term apartment
  • Different types of short-term properties

Why choose a short term apartment?

1. Flexibility

In Japan, the standard lease term for an apartment is two years. If your timeframe for being in Tokyo is shorter than that, it makes more sense to rent a short-term apartment.

The lease term for most short-term apartments in one month, but it varies a lot depending on the property. Some owners and property managers (PM) will consider lease terms as short as two weeks.

2. Usually much lower upfront costs

To move into a regular long-term apartment in Japan, you generally have to have at least four to six months’ rent upfront when you sign the lease. The move-in cost for a typical short-term apartment is much lower. In many cases, you only need to pay one month’s rent when you move in. Sometimes you may also have to pay a deposit or other move-in costs but they will not be as high as those required for a long-term rental.

3. Visa status

If you are in Japan on a tourist visa you can not rent a “regular” apartment because regular leases require you to have proof of residency, in the form of a Residence Card, and proof of employment in Japan among other things; so AirBnB-style accommodations or a short-term apartment will be your main alternatives.

4. You don’t need a guarantor

As a general rule, you do not need a guarantor to rent a short-term apartment. Most people who rent a long-term apartment use a guarantor company as their guarantor, but this adds to the upfront costs of a regular rental. So the lack of a need for a guarantor is a point for short-term rentals.

5. Can be a better value than a business hotel, depending on your needs and preferences

The average cost of a single room in a Tokyo “business hotel” is about ¥10,000 ($92 USD) a night. In Japan, a “business hotel” is the term used to describe a barebones but highly functional economy hotel room designed for short-term business travelers.

A single-occupancy room in a business hotel is about 12-sqm (129-sqft) and is equipped with a bed, desk, chair, TV, cube fridge, hotpot, and unit bath (toilet, sink, and bathtub). WiFi is included in the room cost. Business hotels also tend to be conveniently located near major transit hubs.

Given there many conveniences, what are some downsides of business hotels? A business hotel is very functional but can also get very cramped after a few days, since guests are not meant to do much more than sleep and shower in the 12-sqm space provided. Business hotels are also not meant for you to do any real cooking. Some business hotel rooms do come equipped with a microwave oven so that you can heat up take-out food.

6. You can rent a whole house!

The term “short term” rental in a big Japanese city like Tokyo or Osaka conjures up an image of a small but functional budget apartment in a relatively convenient location. Easy on the budget, but lacking in space and aesthetics.

In fact, you can rent quite spacious properties, including whole houses, on a short-term contract.

Example of a whole house available for short-term rental. This is a 58-sqm 2DK house for rent in a great location near Shin Otsuka Station on the Marunouchi line in Bunkyo Ward. No deposit, no key money, no agency fee. A cleaning fee is required at move out. All furniture and appliances included, free pocket WiFi. Utilities are charged separately. Total monthly cost: ¥179,800 ($1,627) For more information, please click on the photo. Image: Matsuri Technologies

Some things to be aware of

Lease terms

The minimum lease term for a short-term apartment is usually one month, but some property managers are able to rent their properties for shorter periods.

Deposit

Some short-term apartments charge a refundable deposit when you move in to cover the cost of any damage that may be done to the property. This is usually equal to one month’s rent. Some owners and property managers will waive the deposit if you pre-pay the entire amount of rent due upfront. For example, if you sign a six month lease and pay six months’ rent upfront.

WiFi

In almost all short term apartments, WiFi is included in the cost of the room rental, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the property will come with pocket WiFi, which means that you can take it with you when you go out! Just remember that you’ll have to return the pocket WiFi when your lease term expires.

Utilities

As with WiFi, utilities (gas, water, and electricity) up to a certain amount of usage are usually included in the rent. Be sure to check the property detail page to estimate the total running costs involved in the renting the room.

Furniture

Short-term rentals listed on Real Estate Japan run the gamut from budget to high-end. Budget apartments will usually include at least a bed, desk, chair and either a private bathroom and kitchen or shared access to a shower room and kitchen.

Communication

All the properties listed on Real Estate Japan are foreigner friendly, including short-term apartments. When you contact the agent or property manager, they’ll be able to help you in English. Some of our partner agents are also able to handle inquiries in Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Common Areas and privacy

Depending on the type of short-term accommodation you choose, you may have to share common areas, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine. This would be the case if you stay in a share house or guest house.

Other types of short-term rentals, such as a fully-furnished one-room apartment or a whole house, give you the same level of privacy as you would have in a hotel room, since everything you need (bed, kitchenette, desk, chair, washing machine, etc.) is contained in your one-room rental (or in the house, as the case may be).

Cleaning Fee

It is standard practice for owners and property managers to charge a cleaning fee when you move out, no matter how clean you left the room. This fee varies depending on the property, but you should expect to pay between ¥5,000 to ¥10,000 for a private room of about 10-sqm. The cleaning fee may be much more (at least ¥30,000) for larger sized rooms and whole house properties. Often, property managers that do not require a deposit will require a cleaning fee to be paid when you move out.

Types of short-term apartments

Share Houses or Guest Houses

Share houses or guest houses are the least expensive option, but give you the least amount of privacy.

If you’re ok with staying in a dormitory-style bedroom where you share sleeping space with at least one other person, it’s possible to find a room for around ¥40,000 ($362 USD) or less a month.

Example of a shared bedroom in a guest house. This room, in a guest house located in Fuchu City in the western suburbs of Tokyo, is available for short-term rental for ¥40,000/month, including ¥10,000 for utilities. Please click on the photo to see the full listing. Image: Irodori Factory

Fully-furnished “one room” apartment

This type of short-term apartment balances cost with privacy, if you set your search criteria well when narrowing down your options. It’s possible to rent a fully furnished “one room” apartment for about ¥90,000 a month, or less. There are also high-end options that can cost ¥200,000 to ¥300,000 depending on the room itself and the location.

The typical one-room apartment layout looks like this:

Typical floor plan for a fully-furnished short-term apartment

Here’s a good example of a well-appointed mid-range short-term rental apartment. This apartment is currently available for rent near Suitengumae Station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line. Total monthly cost is ¥90,000. Please click on the photo for the full listing. Image: ICHII

The kitchen in short-term apartments usually only has one burner. This is an example of a fairly large kitchen for a 1K apartment. A fridge and microwave oven are usually standard equipment in a short-term rental. Image: ICHII

The “bathroom” may be separated from the toilet, as is the case in this apartment. In some apartments the toilet, sink, and shower/tub are all in one room (called a unit bath). Image: ICHII

Most short-term fully-furnished one-room apartments usually come with a washing machine and vacuum cleaner. Image: ICHII

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


GaijinPot Housing Service

If you are looking for an apartment in Japan (whether you’re applying from overseas or are already in-country), check out the GaijinPot Housing Service. With the GaijinPot Housing Service, you:

  • Can choose from 3,000+ properties throughout Japan.
  • Don’t need a guarantor.
  • Can apply from overseas.
  • Pay all your upfront costs and monthly costs with a credit card.
  • Receive full English service, from the room view, to application, to post-move-in support.

Learn More About the GaijinPot Housing Service


Lead photo: Short-term apartment for rent in Tokyo, Image: ICHII