Moving into a new house can be very exciting, but the process can be stressful if you don’t know what to do. On top of that, moving in Japan, a country with a different language and system, can add to the stress. We made this guide as a checklist for fellow movers to keep track of things that need to be completed during the process. Whether you’re just changing your address down the road or leaving the country permanently, we made our guide helpful for every scenario.
Inform Your Current Landlord or Real Estate Company
The first step is to let your current landlord or real estate agent know that you will be moving out. It would be safe to do this at least a month in advance in order to avoid paying an extra month’s worth of rent when you’ve already moved out. In addition, leaving before the end of your contract can also result in unwanted penalties, so it’s best to keep in mind when your contract ends.
Choose a Moving Company
There are over 200 different companies in Japan and choosing one can be quite troublesome. We have a full article that reviews some of the bigger moving companies. In order to get low prices, we suggest receiving quotes from several different companies via phone or website. Here are some other ways to get lower prices:
- Avoid moving during March or April
- Ask the company for quotes during their most convenient schedule
- Send international parcels through ship instead of a plane
- Never say yes right away and always negotiate.
Dispose of Oversized Trash (粗大ごみ)
In Japan, it costs money to throw away large items and electronics. First, you make an appointment by either phone or website to have your oversized trash picked up. In Tokyo, you can make an online appointment in English. However, for other areas of Japan, the website may not contain English or they take phone appointments only. When making the appointment, you need to report what you’d be throwing away so it’s best to have some sort of idea beforehand.
Each piece of oversized trash requires a sticker(粗大ごみ処理券) before they can be collected. These can be bought at the convenience store and have to be pasted onto the item before leaving it out. The sticker type and quantity for each item is written on the website of your regional trash collection agency. There may be additional rules for throwing away specific items such as air conditioners and refrigerators which are also written on the website.
The stickers cost about 200-300yen and some items can require multiple stickers, so the prices can add up very quickly. In order to lower your costs, we recommend selling your unwanted items or giving them away for free. There are many facebook groups for this such as Mottainai Japan and Sayonara Sales which are created specifically for this reason.
Suspend or Transfer Utilities
Water is managed by the government, so there is one company that manages each area. Therefore, if your new address is outside of your previous area, you would have to suspend and activate your water separately. Suspension, transfer, and activation can be done either through the web or through the phone. Unfortunately, they don’t have an English website even for big cities. Here are the websites for Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya.
Electricity and Gas
Electricity and gas are run by private companies so there are many different companies to choose from. Most of these companies offer more than one service, such as offering both electricity and gas or electricity and internet. We recommend signing up for a company that offers more than one service since these tend to offer discounted prices for using more than one of their services. However, if your building uses propane gas instead of the gas system, there will most likely be only one company option for your residential area.
Canceling internet service is fairly simple. You specify a date that you want to suspend your service by either phone or web. Transferring your internet is slightly more complicated. Before being able to transfer your internet service to your new residence, the company has to check if they are able to service your new building and install certain equipment if necessary. This process can take a few weeks to a month so it’s best to contact your internet provider as soon as your new home is confirmed.
Post Office Mail Forwarding
The Japan Post has a convenient service (tenkyo todoke, 転居届) for forwarding your mail to your new address after you move. This service expires after one year, so you eventually have to change your address for everything else. We recommend signing up for this at least a week before moving since it takes 3-5 days to process. Unfortunately, this service is only offered in Japan so it won’t apply if you’re leaving the country.
This service can be applied for online but the website is only in Japanese. The forms they have at the post office also includes English which may be easier to fill out. You will need to bring your residence card and possibly your health insurance card and inkan.
Visiting the Ward Office (区役所)
If you’re leaving the country, you have to fill out and submit a moving out notification (転出届) before leaving the country. If you’re still living in Japan, you have up to 14 days to submit this. You will need to bring your residence card so they can change the address on the back.
Last Things Before Leaving the Country
There are a lot of other services to cancel before leaving. Make sure not to forget to close your bank account, phone SIM card, car insurance, Amazon, and any other services that you may have signed up for.
In addition, if you have worked in Japan, you may want to collect your pensions after leaving the country. For this, you will need the blue pension book that you got from the bank(nenkin techo,年金手帳) and a representative still living here who will be submitting the paperwork and collecting your money to transfer over to you.