Moving is never an easy thing to do. There are lots of things to pay for, new places to become familiar with, and of course, there are the moving costs. Moving in Japan can be a huge endeavor, and one that can come with extra steps you may not have experienced in your home country. Moving in Tokyo itself can have its own challenges.
Searching for an apartment can be very stressful, especially if your grasp of the Japanese language is not very high. Some options can help in this part of the moving process, like finding a realtor. Some real estate agencies in Tokyo have English speaking staff and English brochures. There are a few places you can go to like www.villagehouse.jp.
A good tip to remember is that the closer to a station you are, the higher the price will be. If you look for places within a less than 10-minute walk to the station, be prepared to pay more than if it were 15 or twenty minutes away. Looking in some less popular parts of the city will help to keep the prices at a more manageable level unless your new job is going to set you up with enough to take care of a more expensive apartment.
Don’t expect to find large open apartments in the city either. Most are just big enough to fit a specific number of people. A single apartment is usually the size of a single room in a typical American household. Finding ways to try to live small will help you fit into your new place and will also help when it comes to moving. Finding the right place to live is something that should be made easy, and you can use many resources to help you make your decision.
When you move you will find that there are some new fees in Japan that you haven’t encountered in your own country. A usual deposit equal to one month’s rent is common, as well as a maintenance fee for some places. Sometimes there are also fees if your apartment comes furnished for you. If there is already a refrigerator, washing machine, or stove for cooking you could have extra fees added in for the appliances as well. It is usually cheaper if you have to provide them yourself, but it can still be pricey when you have to purchase the items yourself. Then there is the extra fee of key money. Key money is simply a gift that you give to the landlord, usually in the form of another month’s rent. This is common practice in Japan, but you can still find places that don’t require either a deposit or key money. There is also the need for a guarantor, and it has to be a Japanese one. You can have a Japanese friend act as your guarantor, or some agencies will do it for a fee. You will encounter some apartments that don’t need one, but it is a very common practice throughout the entire country.
When you’ve decided on the new place, you will need to go to the town office and apply for an address change. You will need to contact your current town office and submit the paperwork to let them know where you plan to go. Next, you have to go to your new town’s office and apply for the address change there. Once all of the proper paperwork has been filed, you will receive permission from the town mayor, and you can begin the process of moving.
After you have decided on your new place and paid all of the initial cost, you will need to get your stuff to the new place. The use of trains is not an option. They are usually full, and the amount of room that you would need would be an inconvenience to other passengers. One option would be to use professional movers. A popular option would be to use Yamato, who is well known in the country for being a safe and reliable moving company. They even have special packages for different kinds of moving. One, in particular, is the single apartment moving, in which they send a rolling closet that will ship whatever you can fit in it for a single flat fee. It makes moving in the cities a little less stressful and can make the experience less painful. It helps that they have a full English website, so setting up the pick-up and drop off can be made with little trouble. There are other options in the city with English choices, like Quickmove, Tokyo Helping Hands, and more. If your Japanese is better than normal, there are other local businesses you could contact. Please remember that even if there is an English section online or an English assistance hotline, the movers who show up to your apartment may not be able to speak any English. Brushing up on some basic Japanese can help with this, or the use of a smartphone can help the situation.
Another option would be to rent a car to move your items. You would need an international driver’s license, or a Japanese driver’s license to get one. This could end up being the cheaper option depending on how much you are moving, and how big the items are. The most popular option would be Japan Rent-a-Car, as they have many locations around Japan, and are usually easy to use. This option would work for moving between prefectures as well. Please remember that there are two kinds of roads in Japan, regular toll-free roads, that can all be in various conditions, and toll roads, expressways, that can run you a bit of cash but will be much quicker. Checking tolls and times will help you decide if this will work best for you.
Moving between prefectures is a little different from moving in the city. In the city, most services are readily available and can be used for relatively cheap costs. When moving between prefectures, the cost of moving will have a noticeable increase, as the distance is greater. From personal experience, if you have a relatively small amount of things to move, the rental car option seems best, as you only pay a single fee for the vehicle, and just return it when you finish moving your items. This can be a bit more expensive when compared to moving between cities, but there are a few things that you can do to try and reduce costs. If you decide to skip the expressway, it will take longer to get to your destination, but it won’t cost you anything outside of gas cost. The farther your items have to travel, the more expensive shipping them will be. If you think you can part with some basic things, you can always buy new ones from department stores, or pick up used things from the pawnshops.
The most notable shops are Hard-Off and House-Off, as they usually have a good supply of appliances and electronics to use in your new place. There are trade groups on Facebook that you can use too. Some are for people to sell unwanted items, some are for people leaving the country, and some are for people simply giving things away. Facebook is a great asset in looking for things for your apartment, as many foreigners are keen on selling their items to other foreigners. Make sure you make your intentions known and speak clearly to avoid any confusion.
The prospect of moving in Japan can be stressful, and at times seem impossible, but with a little searching, you can find decent options to help you out. Make sure you carefully check all the sources available to you and make the best decision you can. There are usually multiple places to go to look for what best suits your needs. It can help to have Japanese friends to assist you during this time. Once it’s all said and done, you will be able to experience different parts of Japan and enjoy the new things your area will have to offer.