Finding a house or apartment in Kansai
Getting a place can be a real pain in Japan. The real estate agents and building owners are fairly unwilling sometimes to rent a place to a foreigner, and if they do then often they require a massive non returnable fee (key money), on top of a deposit, which they may well also take a huge chunk of, as well as guarantors who are willing to pay the rent in case you don’t!
All in all an expensive and troublesome proposition.
However, help is at hand in the form of several local and national realtors who cater specifically for the foreign market.
They understand that the Japanese way of doing business is a little crazy and don’t expect you to cough up for the fee, and often don’t require a deposit or guarantor. This makes life a lot easier!
If you need a place to stay while looking for a apartment then try these discounted hotels and hostels.
Housing options fall into roughly three types: apartment, house or guest house.
You can rent an apartment at a “mansion”, likely to be either a single room with shower and toilet and mini kitchen (1 room) through to something like a king’s palace with several rooms and shared dining, living and kitchen (LDK).
Guest houses, which rent weekly or monthly which are like glorified youth hostels with shared everything (useful if you want to stay a little while and meet some semi local visitors and other travellers), or proper houses with a couple of floors.
Rooms are measured in tatami mat dimensions. One mat (a “jo”)is 90 cm by 180 cm.
Facilities vary from place to place but you will usually have to pay utilities on top of your rent. If you hire a place on your own then you will need to setup contracts with the utility companies.
Phone lines are particularly odd in Japan in that you buy a line and keep it or sell it when you’re done so sometimes you’ll see ads for people selling their line, often a bit cheaper than getting a new one!
Many mansions and houses are now within range of fiber optic cable for super fast internet access and IP phone, but all houses in any size conurbation should have access to ADSL.
Needless to say the nearer you are to the city the more expensive it will be, and so choosing a place is a balance between convenience (of proximity to the city/job etc) and cost.
For a serious house search you should begin with the latest copy of Kansai Flea Market or Kansai scene which have a lot of small ads from realtors with their latest offerings. You can also find offers for house shares and sometimes exchanges (for instance teach English and live for free!). Craigslist also has a few offerings for Osaka and local area.
Below are a list of foreigner friendly professional real estate agents.
Adpark – Cool searchable database.
Banana House No key money, short term, long term accommodation, dormitory.
Chou Hotel No key money, short term, long term accommodation, dormitory.
Lemon House No key money, short term, long term accommodation, dormitory.
Melon Apartment No key money, short term, long term accommodation, dormitory.
Orange House No key money, short term, long term accommodation, dormitory.
Kyoto Apartment Full English service.
Japanese real estate agents
If you fancy doing things the hard way then here are a couple of decent real estate sites which offers searchable databases of properties.