Living in Japan for the First Time: Things You Should Do During Your First Week
Housing in Japan
The number of foreign residents in Japan have been increasing in recent years. If you’re a foreigner who’s going to live in Japan for the first time, you may be wondering about what you should do first after you arrive. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the things you should do during your first week in Japan.
① Get a mobile phone
While it’s possible to bring your mobile phone from your home country and use it as is in Japan (through cellular roaming), this usually involves exorbitant charges. Once you arrive in Japan, it’s a good idea to start a contract with a Japanese mobile phone company.
Perhaps you don’t really use your mobile phone much in your home country, and you’re thinking that you won’t need one in Japan. However, you need to have a phone in Japan in order to a rent a house, open a bank account, request redeliveries of parcels, and many other situations. So it is best to get a mobile phone as soon as possible.
Note that some mobile phone companies require you to have a proper address in Japan before you can start a contract, so you should confirm with the company in advance.
② Open a bank account
Just as important as getting a mobile phone is opening a bank account. You normally need a bank account to pay for your mobile phone fees, pay for your monthly rent, and to receive your salary from your employer. If you are a student, you may also need a bank account to pay for your school fees. Paying rent or salaries by cash is quite rare in Japan.
Some banks require you to have a personal seal (hanko/inkan) in order to open an account, so you first need to go to a hanko shop to have one made. This usually costs upwards of 1,000 yen. Besides opening bank accounts, there are many situations in Japan that require the use of a personal seal, such as signing contracts, so it’s definitely a good idea to have one.
③ Find a place to live
One of the first hurdles encountered by many foreigners who are new to Japan is house hunting. This is because most Japanese real estate agencies do not offer services in English or other languages besides Japanese. When you add in the fact that Japanese housing is quite complicated by itself, then it truly becomes a predicament for the uninitiated. Even many Japanese get confused about the housing system and rental procedure in their own country.
In some countries, you can rent a property by negotiating directly with the property owner, without the need for a real estate agent. However, this is not the case in Japan. If you are living in Japan for the first time, you’ll probably first stay in a hotel, short-term apartment, or shared room after you arrive, until you can find a property you can rent.
In recent years, some Japanese real estate agencies have started offering online services through Zoom or Skype. These services allow you to contact a real estate agency and find a suitable property even before coming to Japan. One of the few companies that offer this kind of service is wagaya Japan.
In this article, we talked about three of the things you should do during your first week in Japan. Besides these three items, after finding a place to live, you also need to register your address in your municipal office, and apply for electricity, gas, and water services in your new home.
If you’re new to the country, there’s probably a lot you don’t understand about life in Japan, but you are welcome to contact wagaya Japan anytime. We offer a wide range of support for foreign residents, from house hunting to providing useful information about life in Japan and solutions to problems you may encounter.