Voices in Japan
Voices in Japan
Jun 4, 2019
The Weird World of Apartment Hunting and Buying in Japan
Play • 37 min

If you are coming to Japan, are you already set up with a nice living space?  Or are you already living in Japan, and have you ever searched for an apartment on your own?  What kinds of challenges did you face?  Were you treated differently because you were a foreigner?

Our podcasters have lived in multiple apartments over their combined 28 years of being in Japan - convenient spots arranged through their companies, apartments haunted by fatalities in the past (a.k.a. jiko bukken), and Burke has recently gone through the process of purchasing his own place.  Apartment hunting is one of the most daunting tasks for life in Japan but probably unavoidable if you plan on being here for more than one or two years.  Listen now to learn about some of the pitfalls and mistakes that are often made by foreigners during the process, and also the requirements for securing a loan in an environment that some are worried might be heading towards a real estate bubble.

Conversation Highlights:

  • What types of apartments do schools set up for foreigners teaching English?
  • Why do renters, both Japanese and foreign, need guarantors?
  • What options do renters have for guarantors?
  • Before signing a lease, what do renters need to be very careful about?
  • What are some of the upfront costs, such as "reikin" (礼金) and "shikikin" (敷金)?
  • What did one "kanrigaisha" (管理会社), or management company, try to charge Ben for when he was moving out?
  • What damage costs was Burke able to avoid when moving out simply because he had rented with his Japanese wife?
  • Do foreigners face discrimination when renting in Japan?  Is it justified?
  • What sales techniques do real estate agents use to convince renters to choose an apartment?
  • What spooky discovery did Ben make about one of his apartments?
  • How do Japanese people deal with a problematic neighbor?
  • What are the current mortgage rates in Japan for residents and non-residents?
  • What requirements do banks have for approving loans, particularly for foreigners?
  • What is more important to qualify for a bank loan, income level or job security?
  • What are the requirements for the "atamakin" (頭金) or loan down payment? 

Real estate is booming these days in Japan, especially in major cities such as Sapporo.  Extremely low mortgage rates have created a red hot buyers market, but is the country headed towards a bubble?  How easy is it for foreigners to get a loan, and what are the requirements?  Find out that information and more in this episode of the podcast!

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