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5 Ways to Find Affordable Housing in Japan You may not Know About


We understand that it can be difficult to find affordable housing in Japan as a foreigner. So, where can you find the best place to live in Japan? Where can you find long-term or temporary housing in Japan? Aside from apartments, are there other places to live in Japan? If you’ve ever thought about one or all of these questions, keep reading.

Housing in Japan may introduce a different form of culture shock. 

Initially, landlords or real estate agents will ask an applicant to prepare at least five months’ worth of rent (in cash) to pay for the first month’s bill. To see what’s usually included in the first month’s rent, click here.

oakhouse room share house japan
Photo by Oakhouse

Apartments in Japan usually have one to two-year contracts that need to be renewed and will most likely involve numerous fees which will be billed for the first month. Some places will not even allow contracts to be renewed which force tenants to scramble for another place to live.

Other than the option of moving into an apartment, there are alternative ways to find housing such as looking for a share house or signing up for a subscription housing program. These options don’t include strict contracts, you don’t feel the pressure of being tied down and they tend to be more affordable depending on the location.

Before we show you ways to find affordable housing in Japan here is a list of housing-related Japanese vocabulary we think might be helpful for you to know before you dig into your search:

  • Monthly rent – 家賃 (yachin)
  • Contract – 契約 (keiyaku)
  • Real estate agency – 不動産屋 (fudousanya)
  • Deposit – 敷金 (shikikin)
  • Key/Gratitude money – 礼金 (reikin)
  • Apartment – アパート (apaato)
  • Share house – シェアハウス (sheahausu)
  • House – 家 (ie)
  • Rented/Leased (place) – 賃貸 (chintai)
  • Renewal fee – 更新料 (koushinryou)

5 ways to Find Affordable Housing in Japan

Table of Contents

1. Check home and apartment-searching websites

There is an abundance of accommodation-searching websites in Japan. The five most popular searching sites in Japan are:

Photos of fully-furnished apartments below are from Suumo Magazine. Please note that apartments in Japan are usually not furnished.

suumo apartment japan

suumo apartment japan

suumo apartment japan

suumo apartment japan

Unfortunately, all of the websites listed above are only in Japanese. For those who are not able to read Japanese, these English home and apartment-searching websites may be helpful:

2. Join expatriate accommodation Facebook groups

Facebook has many groups for foreigners who either want to find a secure place that provides assistance in English, need to find a roommate, need to find temporary and affordable housing or need to search for the cheapest place to live in Japan. Facebook groups are also a great place to ask for advice from people who may have experienced something similar to those who just moved to Japan or are interested in learning the best places to live in Japan as a foreigner. Below are a few Facebook groups we’ve discovered or have joined based on our personal experiences:

facebook group apartment posting
Screenshot image of posting from Tokyo Housing, Rooms, Apartments for share, rent, buy

3. Visit a real estate agency

There are real estate agencies everywhere. They’re usually one or a few near stations in more localized areas. Their shops always have postings of apartments covering their window(s) and/or a board they display outside. Unfortunately, they only offer services in Japanese, so if you’re looking for an English-speaking real estate agency, please take a look at the following:

4. Find a room in a share house

Share houses are another affordable housing option in Japan. They’re built to connect people from different backgrounds. They also don’t have any strict contracts and the rent is not too costly. Share house companies include:

oakhouse sharehouse japan
Photo by Oakhouse

The best features about a share house are that you’re not going to be charged a large sum for the first month’s rent like an apartment, you can choose if you’d like to live in a co-ed space or not and there’s no need to purchase furniture in Japan. Depending on the share house company, they also offer fully-furnished apartments.

5. Try a subscription housing company for short-term stays

For those who want to stay in Japan for more than a couple of weeks, or for those who are in the mood to couch-surf or jump around the country, subscription housing may be the best option for you. 

Subscription housing in Japan allows you to pay once per month and stay at a variety of places throughout the country. They provide places that encourage worcation like cozy village houses and relaxing resorts.

For example, if you sign up for the スタンダードプラス (Standard Plus) plan through HafH, for 15,800 JPY a month you can stay at any of the HafH-provided locations for up to 5 days. 

ADDress is another subscription housing company but they only provide one plan. They offer a plan for 44,000 JPY per month and you can stay at as many ADDress-provided places as you’d like. This may be a better option for those who may not have a secure address and just need a temporary place to live in Japan for a few months or so.

Please note that the services are only available in Japanese.

hafh subscription housing japan
Photo by HafH

address life subscription housing japan
Photo by ADDress

Wrapping it up…

Finding affordable housing in Japan can be difficult to begin with if you don’t have many resources or enough knowledge about it. It can especially be a challenge for foreigners since many of the services are only provided in Japanese. With that said, we hope that the five ways to find affordable housing in Japan will help many of you to save money and find the right place.

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