Best way to find cheap apartments in tokyo

Best way to find cheap apartments in tokyo


Housing in Japan



Tokyo consistently ranks in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world to rent an apartment. If you’re someone who plans to live in Tokyo in the near future, this fact might become a hurdle to your house hunting. But don’t fret. In this article, we give you some tips for finding cheap apartments in Tokyo.


When you talk about cheap apartments in Japan, many Japanese immediately think of “jiko bukken” or stigmatized property. This usually means that an unnatural death or other incident occurred in the property in recent years. Stigmatized properties are often rented out at discounted rates. But here we’ll talk about how to minimize your rent without living in such a place.


We hope this serves as a useful reference for those who are planning to move to Tokyo. Of course, these tips may also apply to other parts of Japan, so check them out before you go house hunting.



Avoid moving during peak seasons

Most people in Japan start studying in new schools or take on new jobs in April, so the peak season for moving and property rentals is from January to March. Many Japanese organizations also do inter-company transfers in autumn (September to October), which leads to a rise in the property rental market. The off-season is thus from April to August, and is an opportune time to get a good deal on a property.


When the peak season is over and a property remains vacant, the decreased demand means that it could potentially stay unused for half or even a whole year, earning no income for the landlord. This is why landlords and real estate agents often come up with various ways to find a tenant as soon as possible. This includes offering a lower monthly rent, charging no rent for a month or more, or waiving the key money (reikin) and security deposit (shikikin), which can significantly reduce the initial cost required for moving in.


Furthermore, once you sign a rental contract, the monthly rent amount will essentially stay the same for the duration of the contract. This means that you can make significant savings if you can find a property with a discounted rent during the off-season.



Search for a property with certain conditions

Properties that are in high demand are usually relatively new and equipped with the latest facilities, with an interior that is still quite clean. They can also be properties with spacious rooms or properties located on the top floor of the building. Of course, these kinds of properties most likely have higher rents.


On the other hand, some types of properties have less demand, which usually means that the landlord will rent them out at lower prices in order to find a tenant quickly. The following are some attributes you can look out for when searching for a cheap property.


①Properties that are old

A simple rule of thumb is that the older the property is, the cheaper it is to rent. However, don’t just go for the oldest property you can find, as some may be less resistant to earthquakes, an important consideration in Japan. One often used benchmark is to make sure that property was built in June 1981 or later. This is because Japanese building standards were revised in June 1981 to make buildings more earthquake-resistant. Of course, if cheap rent is your highest priority, then you can also try searching for properties built prior to 1981.


②Properties where the bath and toilet are in the same space

Most Japanese prefer apartments where the bath and toilet are in separate rooms, so properties where the bath tub, wash basin, and toilet are all in the same area are less popular, which means that they might be cheaper to rent.


③Properties in multi-story buildings with no elevator

In Japan, buildings up to five stories in height are not required to have an elevator. From the point of view of a landlord, installing and maintaining an elevator can be quite costly, so some do away with elevators to save on construction costs. However, this usually means a lower demand for the property. If you want to save on rent and you don’t mind using the stairs every day, try searching for a room in a high floor of a building with no elevator.



Find a place that is far from a train station

If you would rather not compromise on the conditions of the room, another way to minimize your rent is to find a property in a location that is quite far from a train station, especially if you don’t mind walking long distances.


Many Japanese, especially those living and commuting in big cities, are very particular when it comes to the distance from their home to the nearest train station. A commonly held preference is to live in a place within 10 minutes on foot from a train station. This means that properties located 15 minutes or more from a station are usually cheaper.


However, in the most congested parts of Tokyo, walking for 15 minutes or so from a train station usually means arriving at the adjacent station or another station on a different railway line, so it can be hard to find a house that is far from any station. In this case, choosing a place where the nearest station is a minor station often means that the rent is cheaper.



Build a good relationship with the real estate agent

Doing the tips mentioned above to find a cheap apartment likely requires the assistance of a real estate agent. A good real estate agent would presumably help you find a place that meets your preferences. But if you are unable to build a relationship of trust with the agent, they will be less inclined to do their best to help you. Things that could damage that relationship include being late to appointments, not returning calls or emails, or not being completely honest about your identity.


Every real estate agent likely deals with several clients and business partners in one day, so they cannot spend all of their work hours just to help you. And if you do something that makes them feel that you are a disreputable client, then don’t expect to get the best service or the ideal apartment from them.


So if you want to increase your chances of getting a cheap apartment with your preferred conditions, it’s a good idea to build a good, trusting relationship with your real estate agent.



Author’s Remarks

A real estate agent I know once told me that “House hunting is a lot like looking for a romantic partner. Since no partner is perfect, you have to decide on your absolute requirements and the things that you can compromise on.” Based on my own experience, I believe this is spot on.


You also have to realize that Tokyo is not a cheap place to live, and with the number of people in the city looking for apartments all the time, finding a cheap apartment with the ideal conditions is no easy task. But if you keep in mind the tips we shared in this article, you’ll likely have better chances of finding that cheap apartment that is perfect for you.

More articles recommend for you