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Apartments in Japan: Part 1

I met up with a Real Estate agent on Wednesday morning in a hunt for apartments. We only got around to checking out 2 apartments that day as we had to rush around trying to open a bank account, register for my alien registration card etc. etc. But on Thursday I checked out 4 more.

Both apartments were very similar, and both were in Miyanosaka (one station away from Hirakata-shi station). They were Leopalace apartments.  Leopalace is a company that offers furnished and unfurnished apartments.  The great thing with them is that they have English support. They are also still willing to rent to you even if you don’t have a job or a guarantor. A little more about Leopalace and the costs in a second, check out some pics!

Now for the costs, and let me say, the upfront costs of these apartments are astronomical. Also, right now, I am only talking about Leopalace apartments here. Also the following figures are an approximate average based on the figures I was given.

These apartments were listed as approximately around ¥40,000 a month – which equates to about $500 Australian, not so bad. This includes furnishing and water.

However, things quickly take a nose dive. You also must pay approximately ¥5,500 (about $60) Management Fee a month. Also a ¥520 maintenance fee. So now you’re looking at ¥46,020 a month ($600). This doesn’t include electricity and gas, my agent said these would run about ¥8,000 - ¥10,000 depending on how much you use the gas and electricity. So now we’ve arrived at, approximately, ¥54,000 ($700) a month. Not quite what you signed up for huh?

But wait, there’s more. Upfront you must pay “2 months rent”. Now that isn’t really 2 months rent, its actually the remainder of this months rent + next months rent. So for example, if I moved in half way through a month, I would pay half a month of rent + next months rent – this was my case should I have signed a leased. The good thing is, the money goes to rent, so thats fine – you aren’t throwing this money away, it covers your rent for 2 months. Great!

But there’s more. The notorious Japanese Key Money. Key Money is a cultural thing in Japan and in some cases can be avoided, but it’s generally present. Key Money can be thought of as a deposit – the difference is you don’t get Key Money back. Ever. Key Money is apparently supposed to be a thanks to the owner for allowing you to rent the apartment (which I always thought rent was all about but whatever…). Not only that, sometimes they ask you also pay a deposit – which in my case they didnt. So Key Money in this case was 1 month of rent (not including management and maintenance fees). So now we’re looking at, in my case, 1.5 months of rent + 1 month worth of Key Money. This equates to (46,020 x 1.5) + 40,000 = ¥109,030 ($1400).

But wait, there’s more. You need to pay to get the locks changed (¥9,970 – $125) and pay for the internet (approximately ¥9600/$125 for 6 months). Now we’re sitting pretty at ¥128,600 ($1650) up front.

But wait, there’s more. You also need to pay rent insurance, this equates to 1 month of rent including maintenance and management fees. +¥46,020 leaves us with ¥174,620 ($2200). I figured that I’d be paying this insurance since I didn’t have a job. So I asked my agent that if I had a job, would they waive the insurance? The answer is: No. Everyone pays this. If you have a guarantor, then it will be cheaper, but you will still pay it.

You also must pay for 2 years worth of fire insurance. That’ll run you ¥13,520 ($170). Although, if you leave early you can claim back the unused insurance money – although they will charge a fee to do so. -_-

They also suggest you pay for the “Resident Support System” which will run you ¥16,000 ($200) – although this is optional. I don’t really know what the “Resident Support System” is, but for an optional ¥16,000 it can go jump off a cliff.

There is also an optional ¥16,800 ($210) cleaning charge if you want the apartment cleaned before you move in. Whilst this is a little steep, but still makes a little bit of sense, may I just quickly point out that there is a MANDATORY cleaning charge of ¥33,070 ($420) upon moving out of the apartment. Which means if you’re moving in, you would expect the apartments to be spotless since the person before you would have forked out ¥33,070 to clean it. Upon closer inspection of some of the apartments I checked out they weren’t really all that clean…

On the topic of moving out, you must provide 1 months notice. If you move out of the apartment in less than 6 months, you must pay a fee equivalent to 1 month rent.

Absurd? … In my opinion, yes.

So let’s bring this all back. Apartment is listed as ¥40,000 yen a month. You actually pay something more like ¥54,000 a month. It will also cost you ¥174,620 up front upon signing the lease (or as much as ¥207,420/$2600 if you wish to have the optional extras) – and might I point out the only real value you are gaining from this upfront payment is 2 months rent and internet (and I suppose insurance…), the rest of it is thrown away. Moving out will run you ¥33,070, or if you move out in less than 6 months it you’ll need to pay another month of rent (¥40,000).

I might also mention, if you manage to stay there for the entire 2 year lease, you’ll need to pay ¥15,750 ($200) to renew your lease. Then you’ll also have to get more fire insurance too…

Now as a final word I would like to point out that this is MY experience with LEOPALACE. Not any other company. Although from what I understand, most companies will not provide you with a place to stay if you dont yet have a job (like me) – which is fair enough. So at the moment, Leopalace seems as though it is my only option… An option I can’t afford. I can’t justify paying these astronomical costs, leaving me with little money and no job. I wouldn’t survive. I need another plan. Perhaps I should head out of Hirakata and back to Tennoji and stay in a cheap hotel there whilst I look for work?

Find out in Part 2!

3 Responses to “Apartments in Japan: Part 1”

  1. January 14th, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Goldie says:

    That’s ridiculous… @_@

  2. January 14th, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Yayan says:

    10-O.G… Represent

  3. January 24th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Jace says:

    Aye Goldie, that is indeed ridiculous!!

    @Yayan: ten-oh-gee! “Keep it gangsta!”

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