Moving in Japan can be tough.
Not only is there a ton of things to do, but everything is also in Japanese, which makes the process much harder than it really should be.
I recently completed a move from Tokyo to Chiba and did all the research, so I decided to take the opportunity to also write an English guide for any other foreigner in Japan that might be going through the same process!
Before the Move
1. Cancel Your Current Lease
Once you sign the contracts for your new lease, the first step is to cancel your old one. Make sure to have at least a couple of day of overlap between your new and old place for moving all your stuff.
A note of warning: most housing contracts in Japan have a minimum length of 1 or 2 years, so if you cancel your contract, you may have to pay a penalty fee.
2. Book a Moving Company
Once your window of moving date is confirmed, the next step is to decide how you will move everything.
There’s the option of going with a moving company or getting a rental car. The moving company is the easier option while the rental car is the more affordable option.
Either way, you’ll want to book this at least a month before moving to secure a vehicle and get the best value.
3. Transfer Your Internet Service
Starting or stopping internet services may require construction for some older buildings. This is because they have to manually connect the fiber optic cables to your room. And the process for that may require making appointments up to a month in advance.
In other cases, starting or stopping your home internet services can be done by giving a call and mailing back the router.
And in other cases where internet is provided by the building, you won’t need to do anything at all.
4. Make an Appointment for Large Trash Pickup
Around a month before the move, you’ll want to start sorting out what to throw away and what to keep.
If you have any large trash, called sodai gomi (粗大ゴミ) in Japanese, you’ll need to make an appointment with your city or ward’s waste disposal center. When making the appointment, you’ll need to specify what item you’ll be throwing away and purchase the appropriate “waste” stickers for each item.
However, not everybody can know for sure what exactly they will throw away or not so early on in the moving process, so there are a couple of alternatives for this.
Solution #1: Sell it at a Recycle Shop
Instead of paying to get rid of your sodai gomi, you can try to first bring it to a recycle shop to see if they’ll take it. These shops don’t pay much for each item, even if it’s brand new, so don’t expect a huge profit.
Solution #2: Give it away at an Online Free Market
There are many buy and sell Facebook groups for different regions of Japan. You can also try your luck and sell the item, and you might earn a higher profit than selling at a recycle shop.
Another alternative is to try selling it on Mericari or Rakuma, which are the Ebay of Japan.
Solution #3: Make an Appointment with a Private Collection Company
If the days are closing in and you still haven’t gotten rid of your sodai gomi, it might be too late to set up a sodai gomi appointment.
In this case, you can go with a private trash collection company, which often take last minute bookings and will pick it up from inside your home so you don’t need to go through the effort of taking the furniture out.
This is however, more expensive than the government company, so this is more of a last resort.
5. Set Up Mail Forwarding at the Post Office
The Japan Post Post Office offers a mail forwarding service, where they’ll gather any mail for your old home, with your name on it, and redirect it to your new home.
This service lasts for up to one year and is completely free. This gives you the time to update your address info in various places at your own pace.
6. Transfer Your Utilities
Before leaving your old house, you’ll need to either cancel your old utilities or transfer them to your new place. In most cases, you can do this online, but if not, then it can be done over the phone.
Water utilities are handled by the government, so if you’re moving within the same ward or city, you’ll just need to transfer them. Electricity and gas are managed by private companies, so whether you’ll need to switch or transfer companies depends on your housing.
When starting or stopping gas utilities, you’ll need someone from the company to come and do a safety inspection, so don’t forget to make an appointment for that as well.
7. Submit a Move Out Notification at the Ward Office
When moving out, you’ll have to let the local government know that you’ll no longer be living there. To find the nearest ward office (kuyakusho, 区役所), you can search on Google Maps “(city name) 区役所”.
The Move-Out Notification Form is call Tenshutsu Todoke (転出届け) and you’ll need to bring your resident’s card and health card.
The ward office is usually open only during normal business hours on weekdays, so if you’re a student or work a full time job, then you’ll have to take some time off to complete this process.
Also for those moving in the same ward, you’ll also have to fill this out as well, but you can skip the move in notification form after you move into your new house.
After the Move
Congratulations on moving into your new wonderful home! There’s a few more things to do!
1. Check Your Utilities
The first thing to do after moving into a new home is to check if the utilities are working. Do a quick run-through to see if your electricy, water, and gas is working. A safety inspection from the gas company is required before you can start using gas, so confirm that you made an appointment for that.
In case any one of them isn’t working, it’s always better to find out sooner than later.
2. Submit a Move In Notification at the Ward Office
The next step is to submit a move in notification at your new ward office. You’ll fill out a form called the Tennyu Todoke (転入届け) and once again, you’ll need your resident’s card and health card.
You’re finished there once they stamp your new address to your resident’s card and you’re now an official resident of your new home!
3. Update Your Address Info
Last but not least, you’ll have to update your address information EVERYWHERE.
If you filled out a mail forwarding application at the Japan Post Office, you have a full year to get this done, but it’s easy to forget, so it’s best to get these done as soon as possible.
Congratulations! You should be proud of yourself as you’ve successfully completed your move in Japan! There were a ton of things to do but you pushed through and now you live in a new, beautiful home!