Moving in Japan


I recently moved to an apartment in Tokyo, and it took me few months to complete whole process after I decided to move. (some are still remaining to complete) It has been very stressful to find the best place, call agencies, preview, actual moving, call and go to utilities providers and public offices. Even though I am a native Japanese speaker, this whole process is pain in ass. Therefore, I am wiring this entry to support non-Japanese native speakers who plan moving in Japan. Hopefully this would be helpful.

Steps of moving in Japan.

To live a comfortable and good life in Japan, housing is a very import, especially in Tokyo. If you want to live in midtown Tokyo, the rent is generally higher than the suburban areas; moreover, if your work is located in midtown Tokyo and do not mind to commute 40 minutes to one hour in a full packed train, you will find decent reasonable apartments in suburban areas.

Anyway, in this blog entry, I will show you general steps of moving in Japan.

Find an apartment.

Search on Web

This is the easiest way to find an apartment in Japan. “Choose are, price, and options (pets allowed, separate bath and toilet, etc…)” There are famous real estate portal sites in Japan.

logo_homes sumaity suumo chintai at_home

Personally speaking, Home’s search by map is incredibly user friendly to find the best matches to your requests and preferences. I recommend to use Home’s.

 Search on local real estate agents

If you are certain about location or station to move in, searching and asking local real estate agents is one of the possible way to find an apartment; however, this requires you a bit of Japanese speaking skills to communicate the agents; some might speak English, but in real estate field, there are still few English speakers I know.

You can just stop by any agencies near the stations. You definitely find some real estate agents near the station. They are usually located around the station. Agents usually have the latest and more information than web portals.

Share house

Airbnb or the share house is the other choice which could be the easiest way to find a place to live. Finding share house, go to google and search “Share house Japan”.


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敷金(しききん)/ shiki kin/ is a security deposit, usually most are refunded. Importantly, Shikikin does not include cleaning fee. Although you kept the apartment nice and clean, cleaning fee is charged obligatorily.

礼金(れいきん)/rei kin/ can be translated as “key money”. ReiKin means “礼”(gratitude), “金” (money), so literally translated “gratitude money”. Reikin is usually non-refundable.

In general, Shikikin and Reikin are charged same as monthly rent amount. However, some apartments require amount of Shikikin as 1.5 month and Reikin as 1 month.

However, these can be negotiated.

Japanese apartments usually require 2 years contract, and every 2 years, you are required to pay “renewal fee”(usually same as 1 month rent).

Often you are required to have certificate of tax payment, bank statement, and employment verification.

Some apartment owners require 2 month rent in advance.

Sometimes, co-signer is required.


Japanese apartments are usually smaller especially in big cities. Moving furnitures is such a hard work. You might need to call “house moving companies”. There are many house moving companies available. You can just call them and request an estimate for free.

House moving companies are

art heart sakai

You can also get an estimate from  by entering your address of moving from and moving to.

Once you set it up the moving date with these companies, you can leave everything on the moving day and the company will take care of everything. You do not need to do anything, but stay there.

Utilities and Change of address


Call your local electricity provider and tell which is your last day and if your new apartment is in the same area(e.g. Kanto, Knasai, Hokkaido), tell them moving in date and address, and you will receive a bill addressing to your new apartment. If you are moving into different area, someone from the electric power company must be presented on the moving date and you need to pay the bill in person.

In Kanto area, Tokyo Electric Power company:

Tell: 0120-995-001


Same as a electricity. You need to call local Gas provider company. However, gas provider requires you to be presented when they open and close the gas. You need to make an appointment with them.

In Tokyo, call “Tokyo Gas”.

Tell: 0570-002230


Call your local waterworks bureau telling your last date and moving in date.

Internet + Phone

You can usually do it on-line.

Bank + credit card

Usually you can do this on-line.


You need to submit change of address document.

Government & Public Offices

If you have a drivers’ licence, go to the local police station.

Go to the local public office to submit change of address called “住民票 /jumin hyo/” (resident card).

Go to the local post office to submit mail transferring request.


If you are not comfortable with your Japanese, moving in Japan is not so easy, but hopefully this entry would help you moving in Japan.

I will go over basic terms used frequently in moving and an example of a contract in more details in the future entry.