How to find a new house and move to Japan?

The idea of starting a new chapter in the Land of the Rising Sun is thrilling. Imagine experiencing Japan’s rich culture, advanced technology, and beautiful landscapes right at your doorstep. But let’s be honest, moving to another country isn’t a walk in the park. You’ll need to navigate some complex steps, from understanding visa requirements to finding the perfect home. Don’t worry, though. Kokusai Express has created a guide to simplify the process for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know to make your dream move to Japan as smooth as possible.

Why move to Japan?

There are many reasons why people are moving overseas. Some do it for personal reasons, and others in order to pursue their career dream. Whatever your reason might be, be assured that relocating to Japan will have many advantages, and it will certainly not be a mistake. And here’s why:

  • Unique culture: Japan offers a blend of traditional and modern influences. From tea ceremonies to cutting-edge technology, the richness of Japanese culture is unlike any other.
  • Business opportunities: As the third-largest economy in the world, Japan hosts numerous multinational companies. It’s a hub for innovation and provides abundant career prospects.
  • High quality of life: Japan is known for its excellent public transportation, healthcare, and education. The crime rate is also impressively low, making it a safe place to live.
  • Expand your horizons: Living in a different country broadens your perspective. It offers a chance to learn a new language and immerse yourself in a distinct way of life.

Statistics reinforce Japan’s appeal. For instance, Tokyo has been ranked the safest city in the world multiple times. Moving to Japan not only promises a rich cultural experience but also opens doors to countless opportunities.

Legal requirements and documentation when moving to Japan

To stay in Japan, you’ll typically need a visa. The type of visa depends on your purpose—tourism, work, or study are common reasons. Applying usually involves filling out a form and submitting it alongside necessary documents like your passport and proof of financial stability. You can submit your application at a Japanese consulate or embassy in your home country.

A person filling visa form for a move to Japan
Before you move to Japan, make sure to obtain the necessary visa

Registering with the local ward office is also important. It’s a mandatory step for all foreign residents who use the services of international movers Japan and helps them get access to essential services like healthcare. You’ll need to go to the office within two weeks of your arrival or move to a new location within Japan. Lastly, if you’re looking to lease or buy a house, proper documentation is essential. Requirements often include identification, proof of income, and sometimes even a guarantor. A Certificate of Eligibility, obtainable from the Immigration Bureau, may also be required for certain transactions.

How to find a new house in Japan?

Searching for a house in Japan before you ship your belongings with exhibition cargo Japan services can be quite different from what you may be used to. The property market here often demands a long-term commitment, whether you’re renting or buying. For example, rental contracts commonly last for two years, and breaking them early can incur penalties. Real estate agents play a critical role in guiding you through the maze of options. Unlike some countries where you can deal directly with landlords, in Japan, an agent usually facilitates the process.

Street in Tokyo
Make sure to familiarize yourself with house-hunting procedures in Japan

Online resources like Suumo or Homes.jp offer valuable insights into available properties, too. These platforms allow you to filter options based on location, size, and price. When viewing houses, pay attention to details like the age of the building, proximity to public transport, and whether it’s fully furnished or not. Checking the direction the house faces can also be useful, as sunlight exposure can vary and affect your living experience.

Choose the right location

Choosing the right location for your new home in Japan is pivotal. If you crave the hustle and bustle, cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama are your go-to options. Tokyo, for instance, is a mecca for business and tech jobs. It also boasts vibrant neighborhoods like Shibuya, known for shopping and entertainment, and Shinjuku, famous for its nightlife. Osaka is a food lover’s paradise, and it’s generally less expensive than Tokyo. On the other hand, rural areas offer serenity and a closer connection to nature. Take places like Kyoto and Hokkaido; they provide a slower pace of life and are great if you’re interested in traditional culture or outdoor activities.

Different neighborhoods come with their own pros and cons. For example, Roppongi in Tokyo is popular among expats who have relocated here using the moving service Japan movers provide and has many international schools. However, it’s also pricier and can be quite busy. Conversely, Setagaya is more residential and quieter but might require a longer commute to central Tokyo. Your preferences for work, social life, and convenience will guide you in picking the right spot.

Financial considerations when looking for a home

Managing your finances is a crucial step when moving to Japan, especially when it comes to housing. Initially, leasing a home often involves several costs beyond just the first month’s rent. You might encounter fees like ‘key money,’ a non-refundable payment to the landlord, which can be equivalent to one or two months’ rent. Add this to a security deposit, and you’re looking at upfront costs of up to four times the monthly rent. For instance, if your rent is ¥100,000, prepare for initial costs of around ¥400,000. If you decide to purchase a home, the down payment is a significant factor. Typically, it can range from 10% to 20% of the property’s value. A two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo might cost ¥50 million, requiring a down payment of ¥5-10 million.

Money in a piggy bank
Before you start your house hunting and move to Japan, make sure to set the budget

Monthly costs are another consideration. Along with rent or mortgage payments, you’ll have utility bills, such as electricity, water, and gas, which can add up to around ¥20,000 per month. Some apartments also have community fees for maintenance. To budget wisely, consider locations where the cost of living is lower or opt for a smaller place initially. Track your expenses and have an emergency fund ready. Being financially prepared can make your transition much easier.

How to make a move to Japan?

Making the move to Japan involves logistical planning, especially concerning your belongings. When it comes to shipping, you have options like sea freight or air cargo. Sea freight is usually less expensive but takes longer, sometimes up to 6-8 weeks. Air cargo is faster but can be costly. For example, shipping a 20-foot container via sea might cost around $2,000 to $4,000, while air shipping the same volume could be upwards of $8,000. Also, take into consideration if you would require CFS bonded warehouse to store your belongings before you move them to your new apartment.  To select a shipping company, obtain quotes from multiple providers and check customer reviews. Make sure they have experience in international relocations to Japan. Some companies offer services like door-to-door delivery, which can ease the stress of the move.

A person reading reviews on shipping companies before a move to Japan
Before you settle with a shipping company for your move to Japan, make sure to read reviews

Deciding what to pack requires thought. Electrical appliances may not be compatible due to voltage differences, so you might want to leave them behind. Additionally, Japan has strict rules on importing items like medication, so check regulations carefully. Essentials like important documents, enough clothing, and personal items should take precedence. Consider selling or donating items that are replaceable to reduce shipping costs and make your move more efficient.

Adjust to your new home in Japan

Adjusting to life in Japan may present challenges, but taking proactive steps can make the transition smoother. Learning the Japanese language is invaluable and practical. Even mastering basic phrases can help in daily interactions. Apps like Duolingo or language schools like ECC are good starting points. For example, a 12-week beginner course at a language school may cost around ¥30,000. Understanding local customs is essential. Japanese people value punctuality and social harmony. Simple gestures like bowing slightly when greeting someone can go a long way in building relationships.

Pronunciation chapter in the book
You will adjust easier if you learn the basics of the Japanese language

Being part of a community makes a big difference. Engaging in local events or joining clubs related to your interests can help you make connections. Schools also offer a sense of community. If you have children, international schools like the American School in Japan provide a curriculum in English and extra-curricular activities that can help in adjustment. For local services, take advantage of the community centers that offer various resources, from local news to language classes. Websites like Time Out Tokyo can also guide you to nearby services, restaurants, and events.

Find a home and move to Japan with ease

Securing a comfortable and fulfilling life in Japan is entirely achievable with the right preparation and knowledge. From understanding the types of visas and local registration to navigating the housing market and monthly expenses, being well-informed will save you time and stress. Utilize real estate agents and online resources to find the perfect home that meets your needs. While financial readiness is crucial, cultural assimilation is equally important. Taking steps to learn the language and local customs and actively participating in community events can offer a rich, rewarding experience. Whether you’re moving for work, study, or a new lifestyle, Japan offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity that you won’t find anywhere else. By taking the time to prepare, you can make your move to Japan not just manageable but truly enriching.

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