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Quick Guide to Finding Affordable Housing in Japan And More!

Haruto Uzumaki

24 Apr 2022
I'm going to show everyone some good ways to find affordable housing in Japan, particularly Tokyo, but this should work in most populated areas in Japan.

My specialty is shared accommodations, thanks to the help of @mdchachi some time ago :) Because of this, you will also have the opportunity to live with Japanese people for an extended period of time!

ジモティー (jmty.jp) - 「必要なものを必要な人へ|あなたのいらないが誰かの役に立つ」
This is a multifaceted site allowing you to list or buy various things, similar to Facebook Marketplace, except completely Japanese. Requires a Japanese phone number to access features other than viewing listings (and as a tourist, the only way to get one as of now is with Mobal). The site is in Japanese only, so you should have some knowledge of Japanese, or use an inbuilt browser translation feature or extension. I'll be providing options for those who prefer english, and options that don't require a Japanese phone number, so stay tuned.

STEP 1: Sign up for the site

STEP 2: From the homepage, next to the search bar click the category labeled「不動産」and then hit 「検索」 to search. You can add search terms, but for now, do it without them.

STEP 3: Click 「シェアハウス」 to only be shown share houses. You can also click 「賃貸(マンション/一戸建て)」to be shown only apartments.

STEP 4: Refine your search! This part of the page is packed with features to help you with that. Most likely, the site will automatically select the region of Japan you're in, but the particular ward or city can also be selected if you would like to choose a specific one, or select a different region of Japan altogether using the 「市区郡」 selection. You can also search by station (), but I don't recommend it because it can diminish the amount of results you get, as listers only get to choose two specific stations their property is nearby. The search isn't done yet of course, but if you aren't finding what you want, you can always receive notifications of new listings that fit your search with the button labeled 「新着投稿の通知をメールで受け取る」. Just be careful, because to this day I still haven't found a way to unsubscribe to the search once you've done it 🤣

STEP 4.5: Set your price range. The site is unfortunately a bit finnicky, so the most reliable way to set a price range is by adding a
after a question mark (?) in the URL. Even though their site supports setting a minimum and maximum price to search with, there are no buttons I know of to do this, and I only discovered this feature on accident. Note that this may reset if you choose a different city or region.

STEP 5: Inquire! Send a 問い合わせ (inquiry with the green button labeled 「投稿者にメールで問い合わせ」(note: this will only work if you have verified your account with a phone number or japanese form of identification, e.g. "My number card", "zairyuu card", japanese passport, etc.)
From top to bottom, there is a box highlighting the date the listing was posted and the date it was updated, which is important to pay attention to if you don't want to waste your time inquiring on dead listings. Above that you'll see you can also favorite the listing if you wish, but the next box is the price of the property (usually monthly) and any fees associated. The green button allows you to message the poster. Lastly, it's important to check the reviews to ensure they are mostly smiley faces. If they have many blue frowning faces in the reviews, proceed with caution, because generally, these people will cause trouble for you, and you won't want to be caught up in it.
Assuming you're a foreigner, you'll be delighted to know that this is one of the only ways to experience living with Japanese people on a tourist visa, and I'm sharing it with you. You'll have to inquire and check to make sure that they accept passports and don't require a 就労ビザ (work visa), 留学ビザ (student visa) or 在留カード (zairyuu card).

STEP 7: Send it off, and make sure to be formal and polite :) this page is self explanatory otherwise. Uncheck the box if you would not like to receive updates about share houses in the location you selected.

Alright, so what about those who can't get a Japanese phone number? Or just don't feel comfortable enough with Japanese or living with Japanese people?

SAKURA HOUSE - "Friendly Share House and Guest House services with full of hospitality"

I won't provide photographic tutorials from here on. This is the original site that was offered to me by @mdchachi and has been proven to be an excellent choice for newcomers trying to experience Japan for an extended period of time, even on a tourist visa. You can get service in various languages including English. The people who stay in the share houses tend to be students, but even with just a tourist visa, you too can stay at one of their many locations. To be specific, they have 3 different types of rooms. Guest rooms are bedrooms that are shared with multiple people. There are usually bunk beds, but some are large enough to have separate beds too. Just be sure to pay attention to the size of the room, because it may be smaller than you're used to. Share houses are houses that provide you with your own private room. Apartments also provide you with your own room, and may be shared facilities or may include the whole apartment for yourself. Be sure to check which type of apartment it is.
I've stayed with them 3 times and can conclude that they are reliable, but I am also at a point where I no longer need them and have decided to depart from their services. While they are affordable, there are even more affordable places available if you look hard where the Japanese look. Also, you won't be able to experience living with Japanese people, since only foreigners end up using this service (I think it's not even available for Japanese people). Please note that you still need to stay for at least 1 month in any of their locations.

If you want to live with Japanese people and live an authentically Japanese experience in Japan, for as low as 40,000 yen (and sometimes even lower!!) per month, I can suggest the following sites instead, but please note that you will need to stay for at least 3 months in most cases, and while your mileage may vary, it's unlikely they will be lenient with this rule. Some may not even allow tourists, so be sure to check that you can use your passport to live at a location. I don't recommend directly asking if "tourists are allowed" because some Japanese may mistakenly believe it's illegal to rent their property to a non-resident (it's not illegal as long as you leave Japan within 90 days upon entry into the country).

Share Clip
Guest House Bank

Apartment sites that work specifically for foreigners and even for tourists:
Apartments Japan

Alright, good luck, and have fun!
What if you fall on hard times you asked?
Well, I happen to be an expert on this situation as it happened to me too. If you're in Japan and eventually become unable to find somewhere to live for a while, you can continue your search in a place called an internet cafe, known to the Japanese as 「ネットカフェ」 (net cafe). As someone who's lived in 5 different countries to date, I am still impressed to find that Japan is the "best" and safest country to be homeless in so far. This concept seems to be a unique feature to Japan, which is much appreciated by anyone who needs to make use of them. Personally, I've been to two メディアカフェポパイ (Media Cafe POPEYE) net cafe locations and can highly recommend them.
Prices and accommodations vary at each location, but for as low as 300 yen, you can take a 30 minute shower (time allotted varies based on the location) and a 30 minute rest in a chair, or use your spend half of your hour on the computer searching for potential locations to live at. You can of course use the whole hour at the computer/chair as well, and you can stay as long as necessary, keeping track of the time of course (because the price increases at a fixated hourly rate until 6 or 9 hours). There are even small rooms available at some locations for a higher but affordable price. There are other net cafes, so do your research on the closest ones to where you intend on living in case you get into a tricky situation.

Media Cafe POPEYE

Now I can almost guarantee that with any budget you can survive in Japan with this info! Hope it helps someone out there who needs extremely affordable living in Japan. My last place was in the outskirts of Shinjuku for 45,000 yen per month, for a minimum of two months, and I found them on ジモティー so I am a living example that living in Japan can be affordable. If you just look in the right places, your money can go a long way.


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Thank you, @Haruto Uzumaki, that is extremely useful!

We have a list of guesthouses here, too:

Probably it needs to be updated.
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