A guide to living affordably in Tokyo (Part 1)
April 29, 2015

One of the first challenges that foreigners face when moving to Tokyo is finding an affordable apartment. This can be a confusing process because the rules and regulations of searching, and purchasing apartments differ greatly from western cities. Foreigners wishing to live in Tokyo need to have access to a realistic budget in order to get by and enjoy some luxuries. Many real estate agencies in Tokyo will set a rental payment to no more than 30% of the renter’s monthly income. Many agencies will also only consider an income if it is earned in Japan.

The number of apartments and housing in the metropolitan area of Tokyo (population 13.3 million) rose on average 1.95 percent each year between 1998 and 2008. This is twice as fast as Tokyo’s world city competitors; London, Paris, and New York City. Apartments in Tokyo, and Japan are generally among the most expensive in the world. Apartments tend to be quite small, located in a built up complex, and come with expensive utilities.

There are many livable neighborhoods in Tokyo that suit a variety of different budgets. In a neighborhood such as Narimasu, Kamata, and Asagaya individuals can rent a one bedroom apartment for as low as 40,000 Yen per month. This is a big difference when in comparison to the cost of an apartment in the downtown core of Tokyo. A one bedroom apartment is on average over 100,000 Yen per month and a three bedroom apartment is over 300,000 Yen.

It is also important to consider that there are multiple fees involved when renting an apartment in Tokyo and individuals should allot up to 4 months of rent to cover these amounts. While finding an apartment in Tokyo can seem like a daunting task to foreigners, with the proper amount of research and planning - it can easily be done.


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