Japan is a country full of interesting culture, great food, and lots and lots of fees. Some expenses, such as apartment gift money (礼金, reikin), are well known, but there are many others that will creep up on unsuspecting new residence to Japan.
If you are thinking of moving to Japan, prepare yourself by reading about a few of the lesser-known fees below.
(国民年金保険料, kokumin nenkin hokenryō)
Most know about the Japanese health insurance system, but many people moving to Japan don’t realize that paying for national pension is an obligation as well. As much of a hassle as it is, if National Health Insurance and National Pension aren’t automatically taken from your paycheck, you’ll have to sign up at city hall.
The good news is that many countries have a pension exchange treaty with Japan, which means that you might see the money again even if you don’t live in Japan until retirement. You can also choose to withdraw a lump-sum upon leaving Japan if you prefer.
Pension: 15,250 yen/month (in 2014)
Reducing pension payments: One of the best ways to cut down on pension payments is to pay in advance via bank transfer (savings of 14,800 yen if paying 2 years at once). If you are having financial troubles, you can also request a delay or reduction in payment, depending on your situation.
Japan Broadcast Corporation (NHK)
(NHK受信料, NHK jushinryō)
Paying the national television station fee is another obligation that you might not know about until the NHK fee collector comes to your door. Like many Japanese and non-Japanese residents, you can argue that you don’t watch NHK, but if you have television equipment that is capable of receiving NHK, then you are technically supposed to pay the fee.
NHK fee: 2,520 yen/every 2 months
Reducing the NHK fee: The NHK fee is most expensive for those with satellite television (4,460 yen/every two months). You can bring down your NHK fee by only receiving terrestrial broadcasting (2,520 yen/every 2 months). Also, be sure to pay by bank or credit card transfer to get the lowest rate (2,520 yen/every 2 months rather than 2,620 yen/every 2 months). One last trick is to pay your NHK fee upfront for one year (13,990 yen/1 year, saving 1,130 yen for the year).
You probably realize that extending your period of stay will cost a fee (currently 4000 yen). In addition to this fee, you may have to pay from 300 yen to 500 yen per copy to receive official documents, such as your certificate of residence (住民票, juminhyo) and tax certificate (税証明書, zeishomeisho).
Reducing bureaucratic fees: The main ways to reduce these fees is to avoid procedures that require the fees in the first place. Of course, this suggestion isn’t always feasible, so your best bet is probably to reduce incidental fees by going in person to get the documents (and avoid paying for the SASE) and going to offices close to you (to reduce train fare).
Apartment Initial Fees
The deposit (敷金, shikikin) and gift money (礼金, reikin) given to the apartment owner upon moving in are well known, but did you know that another half dozen fees exist?
To move into your apartment you will be hit with:
- agency fee for the realtor (仲介手数料, chūkai tesuryō)
- damage insurance (損害保険料, sonpo hokenryō)
- key exchange fee (鍵交換代, kagi kōkandai)
- guarantor company fee (保証会社利用料, hoshō gaisha riyōryō)
- cleaning fee (クリーニング費用, kurīningu hiyō)
Whether you’ll have to pay these fees depends on the apartment owner, but preparing a decent amount of money for moving in is a good idea.
To find out more about renting an apartment in Tokyo, check out the GaijinPot Podcast #12.
Reducing apartment fees: Naturally, one of the best ways to reduce these upfront fees is by choosing a place that doesn’t charge the fees in the first place. Guest houses and student dormitories don’t tend to charge as many fees, but it’s also worth visiting a realtor who specializes in apartments with low upfront fees.
This list is far from exhaustive but hopefully can give you a head start on saving for coming to Japan.
Have you been hit with any unexpected fees in Japan?