Finally I was able to update again! And this time I’m going to talk about a very vital subject for anyone who wants to live in Japan.
Renting a flat.
Please note that, since I have a Japanese passport, I might (I’m not even sure!) have skipped some steps (and some of the prejudices) that those who don’t have to go through. And trust me, it’s a pain.
I count myself as incredibly lucky. First of all, I wasn’t in any crazy rush to get an apartment. It wasn’t like I would become homeless, or that I would have to pay ridiculous amounts of money to a hotel to sleep on a bed. No, I stayed over my friend’s flat for over a month. So, for those of you who know people who already live in the big metropolis, try to see if you have any chance to crash with them. Please note that, if someone has invited you to their home (especially if they are Japanese), the invitation might not be genuine, so beware. Also, be thankful. Don’t assume that, just because they’re your friends and of course you’d do the same if the situation was reversed, you can be unthankful. Treat them to a meal sometimes, do the shopping, help with the cleaning: make sure they don’t regret inviting you home. I know, pretty obvious stuff, but you’d be surprised with some of the stories I’ve heard.
If you’re new to the city and don’t know anyone who can put up with you, then you’re going to have to hurry.
First of all: inform yourself. Look at websites, talk to people, walk around the neighborhood you’re interested, and be stubborn.
I found an apartment via a website, and then contacted the Real Estate Agency personally and met them (I've heard it's practically impossible to rent a flat directly from the owner). The girl who “was in charge of me” was a very nice young lady, very kind and who really did her best to help me. She drove me to all the apartments and helped me put my papers together.
I was really interested in one apartment which was practically brand new, highest floor (3rd) and quite big. It was expensive, but not outside my price-range (especially if you take into consideration that I don’t really go out much). I wanted THAT one. I asked for it then there was an inspection.
That is correct. The Real Estate Agent must check your background and your job, your salary, and your guarantor. I had my papers but I didn’t have a guarantor, usually a parent who lives in Japan (I didn’t really want to bother my uncle with this) (note: I had to, eventually) so I decided to hire a company which serves as a guarantor. And BOOM! The price bloated and burst and suddenly what had been expensive but affordable became impossible. Plus, I didn’t even pass the inspection. Apparently, there’s an unwritten rule in Japan: your rent can’t (mustn’t) be superior to 1/3 of your salary. If it is, you practically automatically fail the inspection.
I decided I wanted that apartment anyway and pressed for it, and my company was very understanding and provided me with proof of my income… but no luck.
And the worst part?
That had all happened during the 10 days I had gone back to Spain, so there was absolutely nothing I could do but search the web and pray...
(continues in part 2)
◆Lists of websites I used to search for flats: