Kyoto Styudy

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How to Rent an Apartment in Kyoto, Japan: A Guide for International Students

Renting Tips for Students

Q. Students tend to be especially cost-sensitive. What sorts of things could they look for in a Kyoto apartment to find a cheaper one?

A. A lot of international students will ask for things that are difficult to find in low-cost apartments. Some want big windows with lots of natural light, or recently I’ve had a lot of requests for pet-friendly apartments. Some students are particular about the construction of the buildings, too.

In general, apartment prices are determined by age (since the time of construction), size, location, and type of construction. I think you can find a lot of inexpensive apartments if you look for one that was built 30 years ago or more, and is about 6-jo* (about 9.2 square meters) in size.”

A jo is a unit of measurement commonly used in Japanese real estate. One jo corresponds to about 1.5 square meter

“Newer buildings are more expensive, and the landlords tend to be much stricter about who they select as tenants. Landlords and students don’t know much about each other, but older buildings can be easier for international students to move into.

“Of course, it all depends on what the individual is looking for.”


Q. Do most students head straight to a real estate agent when looking for an apartment?

A. “Some of the students that come to our office have recommendations from their school, or, because we’re located so close to Kyoto University, they’re students that live nearby and just come by the office.

“Recently, we get a lot of our initial requests online. Both students who are overseas and those already living in Japan often reach out to us online first.”

Q. When should students start their apartment search?

A. “If a student is going to move here in late November and starts their search in early November, from a real estate agent’s perspective, that’s quite late. You won’t necessarily be able to find a good apartment right away. Even if you do find a good apartment, a background check from the guarantor company, and preparing and sending all the documents back-and-forth takes a lot of time. I think it’s best to leave at least more than a month and a half.

“Schools also announce their new student acceptance at different times, and that tends to cause a bit of a scramble for apartments, so it’s a good idea to take that into account, too.”

Advice on Renting in Japan

Q.  What advice would you give to international students looking for apartments in Japan?

A. “I would suggest going to a well-known or popular real estate agency that has good reviews. I also think it’s a good idea to gather your own information about renting in Japan, especially about things like key money. It’s often very difficult for people to understand these customs when I explain them for the first time, but doing some research beforehand can make the whole process go more smoothly.”

Apartment hunting in Japan comes with a lot of new vocabulary and concepts, but in a student city like Kyoto, there’s also a lot of support for international students like you!

With Study Kyoto’s Kyoto Housing Search, too, you’ll find an introduction to the steps to find an apartment in Japan, as well as be able to search for Kyoto apartments online:

Flat Agency

Living in Kyoto! Kyoto Housing Search Made Easy

Kyoto’s Public Student Dorms for International Students: Pricing, Applications & Making Japanese Friends