Renting in Tokyo: How to Find and Set Up an Apartment

renting in Tokyo

With around 37 million people in the Greater Tokyo Area, there are plenty of accommodations available; but finding the right apartment and knowing what to expect is another thing. If you’ve begun thinking about moving to Japan’s largest city, keep reading for tips on renting in Tokyo.

In this article:

  • When to start property hunting
  • Finding an apartment
  • What to expect after you find an apartment

<This article was updated on March 14, 2024>

When to Start Property Hunting

In Japan, property hunting is the most active, generally around February and March, when school, employment, and graduation start. If you consider moving in spring, it might be tough to find a wide range of sales after late March, so we recommend you start searching before that.

Also, start hunting from two months to one month before you move in. This is because available rooms would not show up earlier than two months, and searching within less than a month would be tight.

Finding an Apartment in Tokyo

What is the average rent in the Tokyo 23 Wards?

Tokyo can be roughly divided into the 23 wards of Tokyo and the Tama region. Urban functions are concentrated in the 23 wards of Tokyo, and the area centering on Chiyoda, Chuo, and Minato wards is called “central Tokyo” and is a very convenient area. Each area has its own unique characteristics, and the renting fee in each area differs greatly. Below is a map showing the market price of rent. Find the best place for you according to your budget! (Click the image to see the larger map!)

Tokyo map pricing
Pricing of rentals in Tokyo’s 23 wards


Here is a breakdown of average rent in Tokyo’s 23 wards as a whole, by room layout:

1R: ¥71,583 ($652 USD)
1K: ¥81,217 ($739 USD)
1LDK: ¥120,974 ($1,101 USD)
2LDK: ¥181,996 ($1,657 USD)
3LDK: ¥266,352 ($2,425 USD)
4LDK: ¥456,886 ($4,159 USD)

*L: Living / D: Dining/ K: Kitchen

Where to Live in Tokyo

Don’t know where to live in Tokyo?
Not only about the price, but you also need to consider how close to the station or your workplace…and so on.
If you don’t mind commuting, take a
Tokyo Metro or JR East transit map and follow one of the many train lines away from where you will be spending the majority of your time. Commuting distance, price, and daily schedule can help inform you how far out of the city center you should live, all of which can be confirmed with a simple search in your web browser (like “Shibuya Station to Mitaka Station”). And remember: It’s possible to find cheap apartments in some areas of central Tokyo with a bit of looking.

renting in Tokyo

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some English-friendly sites that can help you with your search.

Leo Palace is useful if you’re searching not just in Tokyo but throughout Japan. The company offers both long-term and monthly contracts. It doesn’t require key money or charge extra fees, but this convenience is somewhat offset by higher monthly rental fees. However, looking online for reviews and such is recommended to get an idea of what Leo Palace residences are like before signing the contract.

GaijinPot is particularly useful for looking at apartments in Japan’s larger cities. All the pertinent information is displayed prominently, allowing you to do your search quickly.

Fontana Tokyo City Apartments offers apartments, share houses, and dormitories in Tokyo. Short-term options are available, making this website a good choice if you’re unsure how long you’ll stay in Tokyo. There are also some options for those who are looking for furnished rooms.

Wagaya Japan is another foreigner-friendly real estate that provides 24-hour support in multiple languages. You can find different types of rooms, such as share houses and rooms with monthly contracts, in areas across Tokyo.

In addition to these foreigner-targeted agencies, some major Japanese real estate companies also offer English-friendly services at certain outlets.
For example, E-heyanet is a famous real estate company in Japan. Its international Office is in Shin-Okubo, Tokyo, and all the properties it introduces are foreigner-friendly.

Another option is Minimini Co. It has approximately 500 branch agents in Japan. The Minimini International Department, the reception office for foreigners, is 6 minutes’ walk from Tokyo station. You can contact them directly, no matter where you are.

Shared Housing vs. Private Rentals

Both options are widely available for foreigners in Japan. Shared apartments come in several forms, often housing four or more people. Each occupant usually has his or her own private room, and everyone shares the kitchen and bathroom. This is a great option if you’re cost-conscious, and it’s also a great place to meet outgoing people from all over the world.
One site for searching shared housing is Modern Living Tokyo, which uses a “Western” leasing model, providing beautiful guesthouses/share houses, and apartments in most major areas of Tokyo. All their Guesthouse rooms are set up like private apartments with locking doors and shared spaces. If you are looking for an English-friendly, flexible leasing system, this is the one you should check out.

BEST ESTATE. JP is another housing search platform for foreigners. On this website, you can search by keywords according to your needs, such as room-share, short contract, pet-friendly, and more.

The alternative is renting your own apartment or flat. Renting affords you the luxury of more space (which can fetch a high price in Tokyo), freedom to have friends over whenever you want, and personalizing your living space. If you’re undecided, here’s a deeper look at the pros and cons of both options, plus some suggested foreign-friendly Tokyo rental agencies.

What to Know Before Moving into Your Apartment

renting in Tokyo
Image from PaylessImages / 123RF

In addition to your monthly rent payment, setup fees are usually part of the rental process in Japan.

Upfront Costs

Typical upfront costs include key money, deposit, agency fees, guarantor fees, and rent for the first three months. Key money is the most notorious cost. It’s sometimes a fixed fee, sometimes based on monthly rent, and is separate from the deposit. You may be asked to pay three months of rent instead of key money or a deposit.

Connecting Utilities

Utilities are relatively simple. Your landlord will probably have already arranged the connections, so you need to only set up accounts with the various companies. This involves filling out forms for the electricity, gas, and water companies. Gas requires a serviceman to visit your apartment to flick a switch, but electricity and water should be available immediately.

Setting up Internet

Setting up the internet in your apartment is not so simple. A service provider will have already installed a line to your apartment, and another company will connect you to the Internet. You can use separate companies for the physical line and the Internet Service Provider (ISP), although offers for combined service for the physical line and ISP can be easier to keep track of. We will introduce one such service below!

Getting the internet set up can take a while, so it is recommended to begin searching for a provider as soon as possible to avoid any delays. Depending on the provider, they may offer a pocket WiFi or similar while you wait for the installation. The service below offers a rental pocket WiFi option to get you online as soon as you move in while you wait for the installation. You can find out more about setting up home internet in Japan here.

However, if you are unsure about your Japanese, deciding on a new contract and installing the internet can be a headache.

Internet Services in Tokyo

renting in tokyo
Image from antonioguillem / 123RF 写真素材

A great way to avoid this headache is to use a mobile provider like Sakura Mobile, which offers full English support, flexible mobile internet service, and fast physical-line home internet.

Fiber Internet (Home Internet)

If you enjoy watching videos or playing online games and do not want to worry about data usage limits, we recommend installing fiber internet in your new residence. While most of Japan’s Hikari internet services require a 2-year binding contract, Sakura Mobile does not require a long-term contract. In addition, with English support, you do not need to worry about any language issues and complications throughout the application and installation process.

LINK: Sakura Fiber Internet Page

Mobile Internet Services

If you don’t need unlimited internet or high internet speed and would prefer internet service without any installation process, mobile internet services such as sim card/eSIM or pocket Wi-Fi can be another option.

SIM Cards

If you book a mobile Internet plan in advance, your Data SIM card will be ready upon your arrival in Japan. You can pick up your order at the airport or get it delivered to your residential address, the nearest post office, or hotel. You can be online with your own connection soon after landing in Japan.

You can check whether your SIM device is compatible here. If your device is not listed or you’re unsure whether or not your phone or tablet will work, you can contact Sakura Mobile for help.

If you need a phone number, then a voice SIM card offers the benefits of a data plan combined with a Japanese phone number. This is perfect for setting up a bank account, renting an apartment, etc., in Japan.

LINK: Sakura Fiber SIM Card / eSIM Page

Pocket WiFi

For WiFi-enabled devices, a Pocket WiFi is small and easy to use. You can also pre-order and pick it up when you arrive in Japan.
With decent speeds and excellent coverage ensuring a stable and fast connection, this is a particularly good option for individuals who value portability. The bandwidth cap is also generous, giving you up to 30 GB of data a month. A pocket WIFI is an excellent option if your expected internet usage is less than 30GB.

LINK: Sakura Fiber Pocket WiFi Page

Monthly Plan vs. Pocket WiFi Rental

No matter how long you intend to stay in Japan, Sakura Mobile has a plan to suit your needs. The long-term products can be extended indefinitely, ideal for those planning on staying in Japan for over three months. If you need a short-term solution and are planning on staying for less than three months, Sakura Mobile’s short-term pocket WiFi is a great choice for visitors or individuals who want more flexibility.

Make Renting in Tokyo Easier with Sakura Mobile

While setting up an apartment in Tokyo is an unavoidable headache, connecting to the Internet doesn’t have to be.
With support available in English on the phone or via e-mail, make your life easier in Japan by choosing reliable internet access that matches your needs without the language barrier.


We hope you have a better idea of the process for renting an apartment in Tokyo.
To summarize, when moving to Tokyo…

  • Start property hunting from 1~2 months before moving in
  • When deciding on the property, consider not only the price of the room but also the commuting distance
  • Be aware that paying upfront costs, connecting utilities, and setting up the internet are part of the rental process
  • From a reliable internet provider, choose an internet service that matches your needs

Once you have found a place to move to, if you are moving from somewhere else in Japan, don’t forget to hire a moving company!
Below is a link to our recommended moving companies in Japan!