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An Expat Talks about Moving to Tokyo, Japan

Jul 14, 2020


Tokyo

An expat in Tokyo talks about the high cost of housing, living close to work, property searches and mansion apartments.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Tokyo

Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

I wish I had brought more unique clothing. I never tried something special with my outfits and picking clothes became dull. I also wish I had brought more coconut oil. It's such a great ingredient and is super expensive here. I would also have brought more shorts. It's so humid here in summer and I wish I had a good pair. I wish I had left my extra pairs of shoes. I never used them and now I have to bring them back. I wish I had left my special hair products. I never got the chance to try them. I also wish I had left my extra electronic devices, like my camera and Nintendo DS. I just never felt the need or urge to use them.

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Let the Adventure Begin! is our premium weekly relocation newsletter that guides you step-by-step through your international move. The weekly newsletter begins 8 months before your move and runs through your first 4 months abroad. For US $29.99, you'll receive an e-mail on Wednesday with tips and advice tailored to where you are in the relocation and settling-in process.

What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

Bring as little as possible. You don't need a lot of stuff and you can find a lot of it here already. The fees to actually move into a place are insane, maybe 3-6 times the monthly rent. So save up, and consider getting a roommate or staying in a sharehouse. Choose a neighborhood that is more residential. You will have more services nearby geared towards you, like gyms, libraries, parks, and grocery stores. Things will feel more calm. You might see some trees, too. Also, find a place that is near the places you will frequent. If you work, find a place where it is easy to commute from. If you have a hobby, find a place that has access to the hobby space you want to use. If you know Japanese, I'd try to find an apartment without a real estate agent. It feels like they do next to nothing for a full month's rent price.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

I live in a "mansion" apartment, meaning it's in a high-rise building. It is normal for most people in the city to live in one. Expats might live in sharehouses or pre-furnished apartments for the lower costs and convenience, respectively.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

I chose my neighborhood based on my commute to work. I found something that only took one train and was under 30 minutes. I specifically found my apartment with the help of a real estate agent, which is the norm here. I told him my preferences and sent him some listings that interested me. He responded by showing me some of the listings I found and some other similar places he had found.

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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Housing costs are much higher than in the US. Housing has around the same cost as New York City, though a little lower. A 20 square meter apartment here can cost $600-$1,500 a month depending on the part of the city and distance from public transportation. In Texas, apartments can be the same price for triple the space.

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