Monday, October 27, 2014

Searching for and finding a flat (part 2)

...So things became hectic. 

I was arriving back to Japan the 30th, and arranged for my house-visits to be on the 31st, for on the 1st I was starting work. And, to complicate things further, I was leaving from the 5th to the 11th overseas for a business trip. So it had to be on the 31st.
I could have stayed longer at my friend’s house, but I was in a hurry on a bureaucratic level. I needed to get my papers done, namely the jūminhyō (住民票, a registry of your current residential address) to get a bank account and a phone. You can live without a phone in Tokyo, but it’s a crazy endeavor. And you need a bank account to get your salary, duh

The morning after my arrival, when it came to seeing more flats, I was very, very lucky. There were two apartments I liked: one was in the neighborhood I liked, 4th floor and quite spacious. The other was in the neighborhood my friend lived in, much bigger, on the 3rd floor. I liked both of them, but decided to apply for the latter and hope. I was, by then, quite disillusioned and pessimistic.
And, of course, I didn’t pass, because my guarantor (my uncle) (because, yes, I did need to ask him in the end) is retired, which would have left me –yet again– stranded. And here is where I must say that the girl who was in charge of my case in the Agency is an angel. Without consulting me (and this was a good thing!) she had also applied for the other building I had liked… and I passed the inspection! (How did that happen?!)

Immediately after that I ran to the Ward Office, got my papers, opened a bank account and got my phone (maybe I’ll talk about that another time). And the day after that: First Business Trip! (talk about a tight schedule!)
So I gathered all my papers and the money needed for all the payments (see below), and the day after my business trip I went to the office. I was shaking with nervousness and excitement. Would it be ok? Would I be refused again? I could not help but pray because I had had such bad luck with apartments I was almost sure something would come up. But, surprisingly, it went really smooth.
And I got my keys and a house…
… which I could not yet call a home.
(to be continued in part 3)

What are you going to pay?
Living in Tokyo is ridiculously expensive, that is a fact. And when you rent an apartment, the initial sum can be devastating. Especially if, like me, you’ve moved from the other side of the globe.
So, what exactly are you going to have to pay?

Obviously. One month in advance, of course. 
管理費・共益費Maintenance Charge and Building Management Charge
Monthly. It’s cheaper for “Apartments” and more expensive for “Mansions” (I’ll explain that in another post). It’s basically the money you pay so that the building is correctly maintained. Which makes sense, and I’m not even being sarcastic.
Some apartments don’t require a deposit, but the vast majority of them do. It’s normally a month’s rent worth. If you’ve caused any damages to the house, they’ll use that money to repair it. At the end of your stay they’ll give back most of it back to you (most of it? Yes, because they’ll use it for the cleaning of the house after you moved out).
礼金Key money
Some apartments don’t require it, either (find one of those!). Another month’s rent. And this is money you won’t ever see again. And what IS key money? It’s a gift to the owner: a “thank you for letting me rent your house”. If you paid it: say goodbye to it forever.
鍵交換費用Lock change
Yes. You’ve got to pay for the lock to be changed. It kind of even makes sense… but still. Why do I have to pay for that?
仲介手数料Agency fee:
 Another month rent, PLUS it’s tax percentage.
This varies according to the Insurance you choose. The first year is more expensive that the rest.
保証会社 Guarantor Company
Here comes the tricky part. If you’ve got someone who’s got your back financially, and IN Japan, that you can just ask that person to be your guarantor (which is what I had to do with my uncle, and I honestly didn’t want to bother him with any of this). If you don’t… and I assume if you’re reading this you’re a gaijin as well, well… One option is to ask your company (but mine wouldn’t help me here). The other is to ask a company to become your guarantor… and of course, pay. And they are expensive. Like, really expensive.

Ok, yes, but exactly how much money is that?

Let’s imagine a house’s rent is about 80,000 yen a month, which is what you get for a tiny apartment in the center or a bigger one in the outskirts. If we take that price into account…

First month’s rent: 80,000¥
Maintenance and Building Management Charge: 3,000 (for apartments)
Deposit: 83,000
Key money: 83,000 (remember: find one without key money)
Insurance: 20,000 (there are several types of insurance)
Lock changing fee: 15,000
Agency fee plus tax: 87,000 (aprox., each agency may vary)
Guarantor company fee: 88,000 (the one I was suggested, anyway)
Which equals a total of: 459,000 (without Key Money: 376,000)
Which equals (as of today): $4,249.88 ($3,481.40) or 3,345 (2,740.12)

Pretty shocking, eh?

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