If it’s your first time renting an apartment, or even if you are an experienced renter, there are always dos and don’ts of renting an apartment. In this article, we will go over a few must-know tips that everyone who is thinking of renting an apartment should know.
First up on our list of the Dos and Don’ts of renting an apartment.
Do Know Your Budget
If this is your first time renting or even if you are about to move from another location, it is very good to know exactly how much space you will need, and better yet, how much space you can afford. In Japan, there are application costs, key-money, deposits, utility fees, moving costs and then some. Understanding how much you will need for your move can be a bit of a headache if you have not thought ahead.
If you are moving out on your own and not going to be sharing the house with anyone, it’s always a good idea to keep the rent to about 30% of your income. Remember when you are doing the math to make sure you are using your pay AFTER taxes are taken out. If the place you are renting includes utilities you can probably go a bit higher to around 40%, but try to not go over 50% of your income. Remember that there are always many more costs to think about when living on your own.
One of the top budgeting techniques is to try out a budgeting app or a spending tracker. A budget app is something that can help you keep track of both monthly and daily expenses. It will help you see how much you are spending and how to map out your spending habits if something unexpected comes up that you will need to pay for. Alternatively try out the traditional Japanese money-saving technique, Kakeibo.
Some tips for Budgeting:
Don’t use your Credit Card
As much as you think you want to, try working with just cash at first. If you accidentally overspend on those nice rugs you just need for your bathroom, you will regret it when your first credit card bill comes in and you have to pay rent and utilities.
Have an Emergency Fund
You never know when things might go wrong and you will need to pay extra to get your car fixed, or buy a new bike tire. Stuff happens all the time that is outside of our control. It’s a really good idea to keep a little spare cash stashed away in case you need to ever use it for an emergency
If you are living in Japan during the summer months, you will most likely notice how hot and humid it can get. Even during the winter, it can get rather cold, so make sure to keep the lights off when you are not using them. Make sure the A/C is off when you leave. Put on a sweater before you turn on the heater in the winter. Unplug the TV and computer when you are not using them. It’s good to get into the habit of saving energy. It will not only save you money, but it will also help save the environment.
(Photo by Sora Sagano)
Do Choose the Right Spot
There is a saying that goes, location, location, location. Where you choose to rent your place can have a huge impact on your budget and your life, so make sure to think about these things before you sign that rental document.
How close is it to work? How will you be getting to work? Will you be driving? Or catching a train? Maybe if you’re close enough you can ride your bike. Make sure you think about how hard it will be getting to and from work every day. No one wants to get stuck in traffic for 2 hours.
How good is public transportation? If you are thinking about using public transportation, or if you like the idea of maybe catching the bus a few days a week then make sure that the place you are thinking of renting will be close to a bus stop. You don’t want to find yourself walking a few kilometers in the rain.
The Neighborhood and surrounding areas. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look around the neighborhood that you are thinking of moving too. Countryside or the city? Japan is a very safe country but it’s always a good idea to take a look at the crime rates. Make sure you don’t get stuck in a place where you don’t feel safe. It’s also a good idea to take a look at how many hills are around the area you want to move into. If you are thinking of biking to work it’s always a good move as no one wants to have to bike up a huge hill after a long day of work.
Do Be Aware of Any Sights, Smells, and Noises When Viewing
When you are taking a look at your rental for the first time, it’s a really good idea to be super aware of anything and everything. Some places may try and hide things from you so that you move in before noticing and have to cover the repairs yourself.
Be aware and look at everything, such as old appliances, for water damage around the windows and door or strange smells coming from the sink or stains on the carpet. It’s also good to note that in Japan, there are LOTS of bugs. You want to make sure you are not going to find a nest of some friends living underneath your sink after you move in. If you happen to enjoy the place, but it has a few things wrong with it, make sure you take pictures as some places may try and charge you for the “damages” after you move out.
Listen. The walls in Japan are known for being thin, even more so if you are moving into an older place. So make sure that when you are checking out the location that you listen to see if you can hear your neighbors, or if you can hear traffic. It’s a good idea to have two viewings, one during the day, and one during the night so you can see if there are sounds that you would not have heard during the day. If not you may need some soundproofing tips!
Check the safety of the apartment. When looking for a new place to live, it’s always a good idea to see how safe it is to live. Are there fire extinguishers nearby? How about fire escapes? If you are renting there should be Co2 and smoke detectors installed in the house as well and make sure they all work.
Now onto the don’ts of renting
Don’t Take Forever to Pack
No one likes to pack, it can take forever and can be very tedious. When moving day comes around, and you are still packing everything away, it can be a cause of a huge amount of stress. That’s why it’s always a good idea to stay organized and to start packing a few weeks before you move. You can start by packing the things you will not need for the coming weeks such as clothes you will not be wearing and maybe a few pots and pans. As it gets closer to your move-in day you can then start to pack all the other things. It’s always an amazing feeling when everything is all packed into boxes and ready to go.
Don’t Forget the Basic
If you are moving from anywhere other than Japan, there are always several things that you will need that you might not have, or might not even know that you will need. Vacuum cleaners, dish towels, cleaning supplies, lots of things that you might not have been able to bring with you into Japan. There is always something that you will forget.
Lastly, remember to have fun! It is a bittersweet experience of having to move to a new place. So make sure that you do not get too stressed out when you are packing and unpacking. It’s always great to sit back and relax after everything is unpacked and ready for you to live in.
So there you have our list of the Dos and Don’ts of renting. Make sure you check out our other articles for all that you need on living and renting in Japan.
If you are looking to move to Japan soon, look no further than Village House for affordable apartments with no fees and an easy rental process.