It’s finally here! Moving day!
Preparing for this move has required countless emails and sheets of paper, but there are certain steps I expected to take that I’ll be skipping. Compared to signing a lease in the United States, which I’ve done seven times in the past decade, there were some noticeable differences in the process, both good and bad.
Moving companies here are remarkably fast and go to great pains to make sure neither your items or the apartment are damaged. They remove their shoes, of course, when coming inside but also lay down tarps and even cover parts of the walls. Our movers in the U.S. tracked dirt everywhere, banged into walls and, um, used my toilet. Several times. Ew.
Good: Building Features
While every apartment is different, I’ve never felt less like a renter than here in Tokyo. What do I mean? Management is attentive and responsive in keeping up the buildings, which are very secure and safe. We’ve had our pipes and smoke detectors checked regularly at no charge and they were quick to repair a broken washer/dryer. Other little items I’m grateful for are video cameras at the main entrance, locked parcel boxes so packages can be left when I’m not here and the most meticulously cleaned garbage and bike rooms I’ve ever seen.
All you need to do is vacuum before moving out of your current unit, which is good. The management company then has the apartment professionally cleaned and restored, repairing any and all damage, including wallpaper. This means walking into an apartment that is in pretty spectacular condition. However, the cost of that fabulous cleaning is footed by the former tenant and can be $500 or more (assuming there are no major damages). Bad.
Bad: Bank Transfers
How you pay for many moving expenses, such as agent fees or deposits. They have to be done at the bank or through an ATM instead of writing and check and usually only Monday through Friday. Before 2 p.m. Not fun.
Bad: Bulky Waste Removal
Don’t worry, this isn’t about to get gross. In Japan, large trash is called sodai gomi, or “bulky waste.” This includes obvious items like appliances and furniture, but also small electronics, rugs, old luggage, etc. These items must be hauled away by the city. Now, don’t get me wrong, recycling is a good thing and I ultimately feel better about having these items hauled away than throwing them in a dumpster. But the process is less than fun. You have to complete an itemized form online (in Japanese, typically) and schedule an appointment for pickup, which can take a couple of weeks. THEN you have to go to the convenience store and buy a certain number of tickets/stickers to place on the items. These stickers can really add up, which means paying a good chunk of money to have items hauled away. I think we paid around $50 for our couch. And if you leave your items in the wrong place (as we did), that can lead to more fun.
I spent last night going through the last cupboard or two to make sure we didn’t need to toss anything else and then finished up the last of the laundry. Now I’m sitting in the new, empty unit waiting for our belongings to arrive and I couldn’t be more excited.
Keep your fingers crossed for my sanity and I’ll share another update once everything is all set up.