The cost of moving in Tokyo

Starting your new life in Tokyo? The rents may be cheaper than in other major cities, but the cost to move in can be much more than in most countries.  This guide will show you all the different costs you can expect when you’re moving in Tokyo or anywhere in Japan.
NOTE: Not all apartments have all these charges, but most do, and we made this guide to make sure you are not surprised when you see the total for your move-in invoice!

Real estate terms

First off we should define a few things:

    1. Security deposit
      • This is the same as most countries: a (partially) refundable deposit you pay in advance to pay for any damage you may cause in the apartment.  This is always based on the rent of the apartment, not including management fee (more on that later).  Note that in most instances you will have to pay for house cleaning upon moving out of your apartment. This is usually taken out of the security deposit.
    2. Key money (reikin)
      • A non-refundable deposit that goes directly to the landlord.  It’s paid to the landlord as a sign of “thanks” for “allowing” you to move in to the apartment and is also probably the hardest of the charges to wrap most people’s head around.  Like the security deposit, it is based on a multiple of the rent alone, not including management fee.
    3. Prorated rent
      • Rent payed for the days that you actually live in an apartment in a month.  For example, if you move in on the 12th of March, which has 31 days, you’ll be charged 20 days of rent. *Note that the day you move in counts as well, so it’s not 31-12=19, but 20.
    4. Management fee
      • A monthly fee charged on top of rent, usually to help with building and room upkeep.  All the prices in our listings include management fees so there’s no confusion.
    5. Guarantor company
      • A company that will step in for you if you are late to pay rent.  After you pass their background test (it’s not too in-depth, don’t worry!), they charge a fee to start their services.  Some companies will also charge a renewal fee every year or two, and others take a fee every month too, usually 1% of the total monthly costs.
    6. Free rent
      • Just as it sounds — some properties will give you the first (or even second!) month’s rent for free.  These are usually reserved to newly-constructed buildings, wherein the landlord wants to fill the rooms up no matter what.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are the details of all the charges you may face here:

Advance rent

Most apartments here will charge the prorated first month and second month of rent and management fee.  However, if you move in on the first day of the month, usually you’ll only have to pay one month of advance rent.  Note though that sometimes property management companies will only charge the first month rent even if you’re moving in mid-month.  If you can find an apartment that offers free rent, then you sometimes won’t have to pay any advance rent!

Average cost of advance rent: 1-2 months


There are two types of deposit, the mostly-refundable security deposit and the non-refundable key money.  Most apartments charge 1 month of each, but sometimes there will be apartments with none of each, or ones with 2 or more months of each.  Like with free rent, the majority of the time apartments with no security deposit or key money are newly-built buildings.  Have a pet? Expect to pay another month’s security deposit to have Sparky move in with you.

Average cost of deposits: 2-3 months

Guarantor company fee

Guarantor companies usually take anywhere from 40%-100% of a month’s total cost (rent + management fee + any other fees like parking) to start and may or may not charge an annual fee for their services.  As mentioned in the glossary, they will step in for you if for some reason you’re late to pay rent, and offer automatic withdrawal for rent so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay rent each month.

Average guarantor company fees: 60% of monthly costs

Other fees to expect


Home insurance mostly covers fire and sometimes water damage, but does not cover earthquake damage — you need to enroll in that separately.

Average cost of insurance: ¥20,000 for a 1-2 bedroom apartment

Lock changing fee

You don’t want the previous tenant having your key, right? Most apartments will charge for this, but if you don’t care about other people potentially having your key you can sometimes ask to not change the lock and save this fee.

Average cost of lock changing fee: ¥20,000

24-hour management enrollment fee

Though not common, some properties will enroll you in a service to help you with any trouble you may face with your apartment at any time of the day, be it plumbing problems, electrical problems, gas problems, or whatnot.

Average cost of 24-hour management enrollment fee: ¥15,000

Contract production/processing fee

Some properties will charge this as well. It covers the cost of making the physical contract.

Average cost of contract production/processing fee: ¥7,500

Real estate agency fee

This is where we come in: it’s the only fee that you pay to the agent who helped you secure your new home.  It helps us run our business and pays for all the expenses incurred in showing you apartments, such as our employees’ salaries, transport costs, our office rent, and membership fees for the real estate associations we belong to. These all add up!

Cost of real estate agency fee: 1 month’s rent plus tax


We’ve explained all the different fees you’ll face when moving in, so let’s look at the total cost of getting your next apartment.

Say the rent of the apartment in question is a small 1 bedroom 1 bath near Roppongi for ¥150,000 a month, with a ¥10,000 management fee included. You’re planning on moving in the 17th of March.

In that case you’ll probably have to pay the following:

Prorated rent/management fee for first month ¥72,580
Rent/management fee for second month ¥150,000
Security deposit (based on rent only, 1 month here) ¥140,000
Key money (also based on rent only, 1 month here) ¥140,000
Guarantor company fee (60% of monthly charges) ¥90,000
Insurance ¥20,000
Lock changing fee ¥20,000
Real estate agency fee (1 month’s rent plus tax) ¥154,000
TOTAL ¥786,580

Do note however, that depending on the fees, you can expect to pay as little as ¥445,000 or as much as over ¥1,000,000!

We hope this guide will help you better understand the fees you’ll have to look forward to paying when moving in Japan.  Our job as real estate agents is to find you the perfect place to live, and part of that includes negotiating the initial costs to move in to your apartment to make sure you pay as little as possible.

Take a look at our listings and let us know if you see anything you like.  Don’t see anything that strikes your fancy? Contact us and give us a few details of what you’re looking for and we’ll help you find your next new home.