Well, it’s not really $10,000. It was 862,400 yen, which at today’s exchange rate is $10,646. I’ll round down. But the point is, I needed $10,646, cash, just to move into my apartment.
Let’s break it down. One month’s rent is about $2500, yes a little high, but for Japan, it isn’t that high. A “cheap” place would have been $2000, so I figure I’d spend a little more and live a little better. Plus since the yen is ridiculously strong right now, it increases the price by about 20%. So, first month’s rent is, $2500, what about the other $7500?? Well, part of the Japanese culture is that there is a little job for everyone, they aren’t an, “I can do it myself” culture, which means you have to go through an agent to find an apartment. There is no craiglsist to look at and owners don’t post classified ads for all to read. For their services, agents get one month’s rent, plus tax. So that’s the second $2500. The third $2500 is the security deposit, understandable, hopefully I get it back. The last $2500 is the rip-off part. It’s the “key” or “gift” money that you give to the owner as a “thank you” for letting you rent their apartment. They pocket that, you never see it again. But, that’s the culture. Everyone does it. The last little bit is renter’s insurance, about $250 for the entire time I stay at the place. Not too bad. So, $2500 for first month’s rent + $2500 agent fee + $2500 deposit + $2500 key money + $250 renters insurance is about my $10,646. Just to move in.
Needless to say, it’s very common for Japanese to live with their parents until they’re 30. That gives them enough time to get a good job, just so they can get their own place.