Relocating to Tokyo: Choosing the Best Location and Type of Housing
Any international move can be challenging, but relocating to a major metropolis like Tokyo can be overwhelming - especially with a family. Try your best to be open and flexible as you may need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle and housing needs. One of the first and most important steps to a successful move to Tokyo is finding the best apartment or house. You will need to be patient and persistent as you might need to see as many as 10 – 20 properties before finding what’s right for you. The good news is, you should be able to find a suitable place as there are lots of properties to choose from.
Location is the Key
The key is to design a lifestyle that is as convenient and rewarding as possible for you and all members of the family. One of the first steps towards achieving this is choosing the right location. Perhaps more than real estate in other cities around the world, location is vital in Tokyo. This is mostly due to the sheer size and variety of neighborhoods - central locations with access to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife or more quiet residential areas more suitable for families with children. The area you choose to live in will vastly affect your commute to work, access to amenities, lifestyle choices, and cost of living. As well, proximity to the nearest station and commute times to city centers can substantially affect property prices and rental rates. Some other important factors that you will need to consider are access to international schools and major business districts such as Marunouchi, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, and Roppongi.
Types of Housing
In Japan, rental contracts for unfurnished housing are normally 2 years and have penalties for cancellation within the first year. Therefore, for anyone relocating to Tokyo for less than one year furnished or fully serviced apartments are the best option.
There are a wide range of options available - more economical weekly units to spacious, fully-serviced executive apartments. Furnishings in serviced apartments will likely include: TV, and internet connections, dishes, linens and weekly cleaning. Some higher-end buildings will likely include amenities such as front desk service, gym facilities and business centers.
Houses vs. Apartments
Unfurnished apartments by far make up the majority of available properties in central Tokyo (and perhaps all major cities in Japan). Apartment units will range from very compact, studio units with kitchenettes to large executive expat style apartments with 5 or more bedrooms with maid rooms. There are also a wide range of building types with low to medium and high-rise buildings, vintage, designer and luxury apartments. There will also be a lot of other conditions you will need to check when looking at various apartment buildings to see if it is meets any special requirements you might have:
- do they allow pets?
- do they include or have parking available?
- is the parking flat or machine-type?
- is the structure earthquake proof?
- does the building have a controlled entry or concierge service?
- does the rent include a storage space (or is there storage space available)?
Needless to say, there are a lot of choices and factors to consider when comparing and choosing apartment buildings in Tokyo.
Choosing a house is perhaps easier as there are as many factors to consider (like apartment buildings). House-type properties range from semi-detached houses in more central locations, to larger detached houses with gardens in more suburban areas. Houses are more likely to include parking, allow pets, and maybe even have an outdoor space suitable for a BBQ. (which is hard to find in Tokyo). It is best to check and confirm these conditions with your agent when house viewing.