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How to Rent An Apartment in Sapporo

In this post we share some ideas to help you prepare to rent an apartment in Sapporo. Below we’ll review the basic process for renting, the typical costs to move-in, what documents are needed to sign a contract, and other details you may need as you search for Sapporo apartments for rent.

While renting an apartment in Sapporo will be similar to the same process in other cities, there are some unique features of renting in Japan that we will try to emphasize. You can review our guide below, and when you’re ready to talk to a local Sapporo real estate agent that can help with rentals, contact us, we’re happy to introduce you to agents that can help.

First Question: What is Your Visa Status?

In Japan, the length of time you can stay in the country depends on your visa status. As you work with agents to find an apartment, your visa status is a primary consideration.

For countries like the US, visitors can stay for up to 90 days on a tourist visa. If you are visiting on a tourist visa, you can still rent an apartment, but most likely you will only be eligible for a “short-term rental,” such as a furnished apartment in Sapporo. These apartments can be rented for months, or for as little as a few days. They are more expensive than “long-term rentals,” but often much less expensive than a hotel and can offer a more “home like” experience.

For short-term rentals in Sapporo, contact us and we will introduce you to an agent that can help.

If you have a visa that allows you to stay in Japan for longer periods – like a student visa or a working visa – you might consider a long-term rental. Long-term rentals in Sapporo can offer many more options in terms of location and amenities, and will be considerably less expensive than short term rentals.

For long-term apartment rentals in Sapporo, there are many more options and we are happy to introduce you to English speaking agents in Sapporo that can find what you want. Contact us to learn more.

Process for Renting an Apartment in Sapporo:

If your visa allows for a long-term stay in Sapporo, the process for finding a typical apartment is:

1. Prepare some ideas as to the best neighborhoods in Sapporo for you, and your monthly budget for rent
2. Meet with an agent to discuss your budget and what you are looking for in an apartment
3. Your agent can help you review several different apartments (first online, and then in person)
4. You select an apartment and submit an application
5. The apartment owner will screen your application (this process can take from 7 to 10 days)
6. If your application is approved, you sign the contract and transfer any necessary fees
7. You receive the keys and move in

Apartment Rentals in Sapporo: Length of Contract

The typical rental contract in Sapporo is for two years. This is true for renting apartments (アパートメント・マンション), condominiums (分譲マンション), and detached, single family houses in Sapporo (一戸建て).

If you’re new to Sapporo and want to take your time finding a more permanent place to live, a short-term month to month rental in Sapporo could allow you to be comfortable, and then get to know the city a little before you make a long-term decision. Short-term furnished rentals in Sapporo are available for periods of a week, a month, several months, or ongoing.

For short-term rentals or long-term stays in Sapporo, when you are ready to get started, contact us and we can connect you with agents that can help with whatever you need.

Move-in Costs for a Sapporo Apartment

In addition to the rent, there are several costs that are due as you sign a lease for an apartment in Sapporo.

Some of those fees include: A security deposit, fees for real estate agents, key money, a fee paid to a guarantee company, renter’s insurance, etc.

We have an additional post about Sapporo apartment move-in costs where we provide more detail, including an example for a typical apartment. See that post for more detail.

Documents and Identification Needed to Rent a Sapporo Apartment

As you meet with an agent that can help you find an apartment, that agent can work with you to make sure you’re prepared with everything you need to sign a lease. You will be more successful when you have the following:

— Passport
— Residence Card
— Certificate of Residence
— Domestic emergency contact
— Proof of income (certificate of employment etc)
— A Japanese bank account
— A Japanese phone number

Do You Have to Speak Japanese to Rent an Apartment in Sapporo?

Japanese is not usually required to rent an apartment in Sapporo, but in many cases foreigners will find it difficult to even begin the process without speaking Japanese.

We can introduce you to agents that speak both English and Japanese (and other languages). Many have experience with foreigners, and they can help make the process much easier.

Even with an agent that can communicate with the property owners, some Japanese landlords will avoid renting to foreigners. In Japan, it is not a illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to foreigners. Communication issues are big concern for many Japanese, and foreigners can be seen as being more difficult or risky than renting to a local. Some Japanese property owners avoid foreign renters.

Finding a foreigner-friendly real estate agent in Hokkaido can reduce frustration and save time. Agents that have experience helping foreigners to rent apartments in Sapporo can help you screen for landlords that are happy to rent to you. To be introduced to a Sapporo rental agent that speaks your language, contact us any time.

How to Pay Rent in Sapporo

Once you know the total combination of the first month’s rent and the required fees (your agent can help clarify these details), you can typically wire transfer (口座振替) the total amount to the property owner or management company, or deposit cash via a bank ATM, to an account specified by the owner. Once the relationship is established, it can also be common to have the monthly rent automatically withdrawn from your bank each month.

While it is rare, in some cases, credit card payment may be available.

Banks for Foreigners in Sapporo

While there are some exceptions for businesses, most foreigners coming to Sapporo will only be able to open a bank account with Japan Post Bank (a service of the Japanese government). Getting a bank account with JP Post is easy, and is done at major post offices. Once you have a Japanese bank account, you can deposit cash, or wire money in from a foreign account. From that Japan Post Bank account, you can pay your monthly rent (typically via automatic transfer).

After six months in Japan, it may be possible to get a personal bank account other than Japan Post Bank.

Some Unique Considerations about Sapporo Apartments

Mainly due to weather conditions in Hokkaido, Sapporo apartments have some unique circumstances that may merit some consideration:

— Will you need to remove snow from the parking lot?
— Are you responsible for draining the water pipes or keeping them from freezing?
— Apartments on the first floor, and/or rooms immediately above the parking lot tend to be cold in snowy months
— What type of heating is available in the apartment? (kerosene, city gas, propane gas, and electricity are commonly used)
— Is air conditioning available for summer months (unlike the rest of Japan, many Hokkaido apartments do not have air conditioning)

We work for you, not the real estate companies.

We provide person-to-person introductions to prescreened agents that help you sell, buy, lease, or rent property in Hokkaido. We search our custom database to connect you to real estate professionals that speak your language, address your needs and are available now to help you find what you want.

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To Get Started

  1. Contact Us or Call NOW:


  • (+81) 50 5806-5302
  • (+1) 833-893-0711

For More Information:

Local Sapporo Real Estate Agents
— Some details on Move-In Costs for a Sapporo Apartment
— Our List of Sapporo Neighborhoods (Sapporo Wards)
International Schools in Sapporo
— Find Lawyers in Hokkaido
Tax Offices in Sapporo
Average Rent for an Apartment in Niseko
— Our Taxes in Japan page
Buying Property in Hokkaido as a Foreigner

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