“But first, it was necessary to set my life in Tokyo…” 3 reminders and 1 conclusion for all those who dream about life in Japan by Emma
Hello there! Here is Emma for JapanLIFE. I am in charge of following foreigner customers for the real estate department of our company.
I would like to share with you my experience as a former #international student who has dealt with life in Japan and all the related issues.
When I arrived in Tokyo I couldn’t speak a very fluent Japanese, so I was attending some Japanese language classes at a language school. At that time the goal was to challenge myself and find a job within a year since my arrival. But first, it was necessary to set my life in Tokyo…
A house in Tokyo: why do I need to pay this “key money”? What is a “key money”?
I remember that at the very beginning I felt completely lost about where to live in Tokyo. When surfing the internet, you can find thousands website about accommodations in Japan but in the end, you can’t be sure which one is the best option for you, right? Moreover, most of the times there is no English-speaking staff or if there is someone who can help you get through the communication barrier, the kind of support you can receive is exclusively related to the accommodation procedure. No indication about how to get a SIM card (necessary for a house leasing contract) for example.
As I mentioned before my Japanese was not so good at the beginning, therefore I had serious difficulties to understand house leasing contract rules but above all the meaning of all those required initial expenses. In foreigner’s point of view the most incomprehensible initial expense in Japanese real estate is perhaps the Key money, in Japanese “礼金(Reikin)”, literally money for gratitude. There is actually no proper translation for this word because it belongs to an old Japanese custom but if you can read in kanji it’s not difficult to catch the meaning: paying an extra-month rent to the owner to express gratitude. I know that many of you may think this is silly but unfortunately, it’s often required. I remember I tried so hard to negotiate but without any mediator and without a fluent Japanese I failed… since the Key money is not refundable the down payment was so expensive!
At the end, after a struggle with Japanese language and the various necessary explanations when you sign a leasing contract to get a house, I choose a share house because I wanted to live in a clean and well-managed environment without being worried about monthly utility payments or the Wi-Fi contract (and of course I was glad to avoid paying the Key money too 😊).
Since I came alone in Tokyo I felt it was necessary to meet some new friends too: the beginning is always the toughest part, sometimes you need someone who can share with you a meal and a good conversation to recharge yourself, don’t you? I am so happy that even if I moved in another apartment, I am still keeping in touch with my ex-share mates. A good start is always a stable basis for a good result and if your share mates are Japanese you have even the chance to improve your language skills.
What I wish I would have had to start my Japan life
Language barrier, cultural differences, life for the first time in a huge Asian metropolis: the combination of all these elements needs support. I wish I would have had that kind of support. I think is important to stay focus on your personal goal but at the same time it’s important to dedicate yourself to enjoy the various aspect of your new life in Japan too. The way to get enough time to dedicate yourself to both these paths is to delegate to someone else all those tasks that take plenty of your time and energies: find a house, find a part-time job and get a SIM card, a Wi-Fi contract, etc.
To be honest the reason why now I can say I fully understand real estate rules is just because I started to work in the real estate field. That’s why I think is fundamental for any foreigner in Japan to receive support and a proper detailed explanation about costs and rules: all of us have the right to fully understand the product we are going to buy.
3 reminders and 1 conclusion!
- 1) Trust people, delegate to people.
- 2) Listen to professionals who give you advices during the research of a house or a job.
- 3) It may sound obvious but try to understand that the life of your dreams in Japan is possible, but it takes patience, commitment and cooperation with others.
In conclusion, be willing to immerse yourself deeply and fully in Japanese culture and life style. Try to be not confined in a community composed exclusively by your compatriots. Show always respect and approach others with extra-good manners. In Japan sometimes “etiquette” is more important than you have ever expected.
There is a Japanese word “挨拶 (Aisatsu)” that means “Greetings” but moreover it embraces a particular concept: polite greetings are the first step to build a relationship of mutual respect. A relationship necessary to obtain a house, a job, a service and so on. A relationship that can contribute to your personal realization!
More information about expenses when leasing a house in Japan? Ask to JapanLIFE 😉 Trust JapanLIFE!