The process of relocating in Japan is pretty complicated and expensive. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of that process right now. For the benefit of anyone who might be in the same situation, here are my tips when moving house in Japan.
Tip 1: Get some help!
I know some people who have been in Japan for nearly ten years and barely speak more than a handful of Japanese words. I know others who have been here only a few years and speak Japanese near-fluently. Either way, moving house involves lots of paperwork, phone calls and negotiating. Don’t be afraid to call on your Japanese friends if you are in need of help. It can save you time and money, and bring you closer as friends.
Tip 2: Don’t run away
There are some things you must do when moving home, such as inform your landlord according to the amount of notice specified in your contract, pay the final fees (also in the contract), notify the postal service of your new address and have the gas and electricity turned off. It’s wise to be organized and sort all of these things out rather than trying to do a runner. If you can’t meet all of the stipulations of your apartment contract (such as the period of notice), be honest with your landlord and call in advance!
Tip 3: Be ready for the expense
I don’t know why, but when you decide to move house people see an opportunity to pick your pockets. You can see the Yen signs in the whites of their eyes! Throwing unwanted items out, for example, can be a considerable expense. Expect fees of 5-10,000yen for larger items.
There are always fees to be paid when moving into a new house too. Japan’s infamous ‘start-up money’ system may be steep, but it is something you can prepare for. Make sure you’ve got some savings to back you up.
Tip 4: The move
The practicalities of the actual move depend massively on your location and your destination. There are several options for moving your furniture etc. One is a removal company, such as Arisan Mark, who will provide boxes, pack the items and move them on the day.
A second option is to use a delivery company. If your luggage isn’t too sizable, a delivery company (such as Kuro-neko Yamato) can be the cheapest option to send your items. They have a standard delivery service and also a ‘box’ service, which involves hiring a container in which you can send your things. A third option is to move them yourself like a common hobo (that’s the option I’ll be taking, then).