Tips For Moving in Japan

Moving in Japan and have no idea what to do? Read on to learn how to get the best rate from Japanese moving companies!

Step One: Call two or three moving companies to visit your place to give an estimate. If possible have them all come on the same day (at different times).

Getting an estimate involves a representative from the moving company viewing your house and taking a look at the amount of objects you need to be moved. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes.

Step Two: Once you receive the estimate, mention that you are consulting with other moving companies. They will lower their prices to be more competitive. You can also tell the movers what other moving companies are willing to offer.  They will lower their prices even more.

Step Three: Do not commit to anything at the time of the estimate (unless its insanely good). Most moving companies will call you after the estimate has taken place (usually an hour or so later) and offer you a lower rate. The pressure will usually be on at that time and they will say something like “We can only offer this price for the next four hours.” This is the best time to strike.  

Moving companies will also be very flexible in their negotiations. For example, they will offer to move all of your large furniture at an a very low price, but will not move any boxes. (This could be a good deal for anyone who has a friend with a car).

I have moved twice in Japan and I negotiated the move of my one-bedroom apartment from an estimate of $400 dollars to $200. My husband and I negotiated the move of our 3- bedroom apartment from $1000 to $700 dollars.

Don’t be afraid to haggle for  a good price. It is common practice in the moving world!

 

 

Buying a Condo in Japan: Remodeling

This is a bonus post in my five part series “Buying a Condo in Japan.” Check out parts one, two, three, four, and five.

Our condo unit offered a few-add on options such as a bigger bathtub, wider counter-tops, dishwasher installation, and a few other features that would enhance the unit. We decided to install an internal dishwasher.  The dishwasher and installation would cost 600,000 yen ($6,000) which was quite expensive for us. Dishwashers are not common in Japan and the must common types are small external dishwashers that sit on the counter-top. We debated between getting a much cheaper dishwasher from an electronics store or getting the condo add-on. In the end we went with the condo add- on because it it would have the same wood paneling as the rest of the kitchen (which would make the kitchen and condo unit easier to sell in Japan) and it would be internally installed so we would have more counter space.

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Our dishwasher

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It’s quite small compared to American dishwashers (about half the size). Its about as long as two of my hands.

 

We also bought and installed drawers, a counter- top, and shelving unit from IKEA.

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Our drawers and counter-top from IKEA.

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IKEA installed everything. It was a bit too difficult for us to do on our own.

With that our home was complete!

 

Want to take a quick look around my condo? Check out these posts here:

My Entryway

The Porch

The Bathroom

The Bedroom

 

 

Buying a Condo in Japan: Part Five

This is the final part in the series “Buying a Condo in Japan” Check out parts one, two, three, and four.

Part Five Synopsis:

  1. We have the walk- through
  2. We get lots of tutorials on all of the electronics and features of our condo unit
  3. We get our keys, contracts, and user manuals
  4. The condo is officially ours!

The next step in the process of buying the condo was visiting our actual unit to make sure everything was in working order and to file complaints if we saw anything wrong (like torn wallpaper, scoffed floors, and/or cracked tiles). We also got tutorials for all of the features of the unit such as the security system and various electronic features. It was very thorough and maybe a little unnecessary as we could just read the manuals, but it really made an impression that the condo company wanted us to truly understand how everything worked.

The walk-through was held on a weekend and all of the owners of the condo unit had to schedule a time during that weekend to do the walk-through.  (As it was a new condo all the owners were moving in at about the same time.) Masa and I brought along Masa’s parents to help us out as they were our Japanese home-owner experts. The walk-through went well. Masa’s dad noticed that our entry gate was a little wobbly so we wrote that down on the form. (It was fixed the next day).

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Our shoe closet near the front door. It’s very big for Japanese standards.

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Bathtub seemed totally fine!

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Hey y’all! Just taking a picture in the shower room mirror.  Why do all Japanese shower rooms have mirrors?!

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Our tatami room

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Our kitchen sink and stove.

After the walk-through we had our  tutorial session which was a bit tedious as our apartment has lots of electronic features: heated floors, a digital post box, an IH stove top, a complicated gas system, and an even more complicated shower system. Check out this post to learn all about the cool features of our shower room  or watch the video here.

Once the walk-through and tutorial session was complete we received our keys, a copy of the huge rules and regulation book, and a huge binder that was full of user manuals for EVERYTHING in the condo unit: floors, doors, security system, shower room and so much more.

The condo was officially ours!

Want to take a quick look around my condo? Check out these posts here:

My Entryway

The Porch

The Bathroom

The Bedroom

 

Buying a Condo in Japan: Part Four

This is part four in the “Buying a Condo in Japan series.” Check out parts 1, 2, and 3.

Part Four Synopsis:

  1. We have our contract meeting with the condo company
  2. We go over the rules and regulations of the building
  3. We go over insurance policies
  4. We pledge that we aren’t in the mafia
  5. We fill out more paperwork

The next step in the process to buy the condo was the contract meeting (which took about 2 hours). The meeting consisted of going over various contracts and reading 2 or 3 huge handbooks with the real estate agent. This was by far the most interesting and eye-opening part of the process.  During this meeting the condo company is legally obligated to go over all of the architectural details of the building, and prove that they are a legitimate real estate company (by showing lots of documents). We also read the huge rules and regulations book of the condominium which had typical rules like: pets are okay, no loud music, let the condo association know if you plan to sublet, don’t throw objects off the balcony, etc. ).   We stamped the books with our family seal and signed them once we were finished reading them.  We also had a representative from the insurance company go over the insurance policies for fire and earthquake insurance. We also choose our parking space. It was a long and tedious meeting but extremely informative.

Towards the end of the meeting we had to sign a document stating that we weren’t in the mafia. I thought it was pretty funny but I can understand them not wanting the Yakuza in their condo.

At the end of the meeting we signed  all the final paperwork and the condo was technically ours, but we couldn’t move in until we had the official walk-through with the condo company (more about that in part 5). 

Buying a Condo in Japan: Part Three

This is part three in the series “Buying a condo in Japan” Check out parts one and two.

Part Three Synopsis:

  1. We visit four banks to get screened for mortgage loans.
  2. We fill out lots of paperwork.
  3. We learn about different types of loan plans and decide what works best for us.
  4. We notify the condo company of our approval and do more paperwork.
  5. We pay the initial fee of 2 million yen ($20,000).

Our next step was the mortgage screening. Getting screened for a mortgage is pretty tedious and boring. Moreover, I was not even a factor or consideration in the screening because I was not a permanent resident so we couldn’t include my salary into the equation.

Masa and I went to four banks to be screened during the weekend.(Many banks are open on the weekend for loan screenings or will open on a weekend if you make an appointment for it). The first bank we visited was a labor union bank. This bank had the best mortgage rates because they offer especially good rates to employees of the company where Masa works.  The second bank we visited was connected to the condominium company and had mid level rates. Banks #3 and #4 were banks that had very easy screening processes but very high rates.

The screening process consists of filling out documents with your company information, your salary, and other personal information as well as give the bank paperwork given to you from the condo company.  You also get a run down of the different types of plans and payment rates for loans at each bank.  Some payment plans involved paying off most of the interest first, while some payment plans involved paying the loan off first and then paying off the interest later. You could also choose a fixed rate mortgage with high rates, or a mortgage with low rates but the rates would be subject to change every few years or so.  The screening meeting usually took between 60-90 minutes.

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A break down of how much the mortgage on thirty million yen home would be.   Monthly payments would be about 65,000 yen ($650) with a 35 year loan,  8% interest, and 100,000 yen ($1,000) twice-yearly bonus payment.

We ended up not getting approved by the bank with the best rates, but got approved by the other three.  We chose the bank the with the mid level rates. We chose our payment plan which included a mortgage with a 10 year fixed rate. We also decided to do bonus payments as well. This means that whenever Masa gets a bonus (which is twice a year), about 50%  of the bonus would go toward paying off the mortgage. Our monthly condo maintenance fees plus mortgage actually turned out to be less than the cost of the monthly rent of our apartment.

Once we got approved we notified the condo company. They sent over more paper work for us to give to the bank. We later went back to the bank and filled out dozens of documents confirming the mortgage rate, life insurance forms (if Masa passes away we are not liable to finish paying off the mortgage), and other insurance forms.   We also payed the loan fees (about 900,000 yen {$9,000} which was a part of the 2 million yen {$20,000} initial fee.)

As we had been approved for the loan, we payed the initial fee for the condo (about 900,000 yen {$9,000} which was the remainder of the 2 million yen {$20,000} initial fee).

The condo was one step closer to being ours!