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Essential Tips

Here are our 7 tips for finding your ideal rental apartment in Tokyo. If you have other questions, please reach out to us at

1. View as quickly as you can

Image by Emil Karlsson

The real estate market in Tokyo moves very fast.

Listings available today are likely taken within a few days, sometimes the same day. The better the listing, the sooner it will be taken.

AtHearth recommends you to go on apartment viewings ASAP before they are gone.

2. Schedule


In this fast-moving market, customers who move in as soon as possible achieve the best results.

We understand that your current apartment may require you to give a minimum of 1-month notice before you move out, but most landlords require the potential tenants to move in no later than 2-3 weeks after you have applied.


Given that, we recommend that the best time to start apartment-hunting is 1-2 months before your desired move-in date. 

3. Budget

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If you want to live in a nice apartment in Tokyo, key money may be inevitable. There are no-key-money apartments out there, but you will notice their rents tend to be set a bit higher than average.

The rule of thumb is that most apartments in good condition will require key money.

If you are only looking for a apartments without key money, you are limiting your options of finding an attractive apartment.

In addition to the key money, there is usually a refundable deposit, guarantor fee (normally it’s 50% of the rent), and the agent fee -- those are the fees you will have to pay before moving in.

So, how much does it really cost when you move into your new apartment? Roughly 5 times the rent, depending on what time of the month you move in. We also need to let you know that most real estate management companies don't accept credit card payments for those fees.

4. Application procedure

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This is what the process looks like from the moment you submit your inquiry to your move-in date.

5. Screening


Once you have submitted your application, it will be reviewed by 3 different parties to make sure that you are a suitable person to rent their property. They are: (1) the property management company (2) the guarantor company and (3) the landlord. 

Many landlords/guarantor companies require your salary to be at least 3 times the rent in order to be an eligible tenant. For instance, on a 400,000 yen/month salary, the highest rent you could afford would be 130,000 yen/month!


They will also call you for a quick confirmation, and unfortunately, not many of them speak English. Not being able to speak Japanese does not mean that you cannot find an apartment, but it does change the number of listings you can realistically be eligible for in the market. 

6. Living with friends

Friends & Pizza

There are only a handful apartments that allow tenants to live with their friends. Most landlords are worried about one of them moving out unexpectedly and leaving the other unable to pay rent. If the main contractor could meet the income rule as we showed before, we may be able to successfully negotiate with the landlord.

7. Living with pets

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There are also very few listings that allow pets, and the majority only allow cats or small dogs. Please note that most apartments that allow pets require a relatively larger sum as a pet deposit.

Find an apartment in Tokyo with AtHearth

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