Relocation support is often a subject of keen interest for working professionals when making employer choices. As a Japanese real estate agency that specializes in housing for working foreigners, we have had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of expats in Japan, and in many cases the local companies employing them.
What we’ve noticed: A surprising number of companies in Japan—including some major, extremely well-established corporations—actually offer very little to no housing support for incoming staff.
In the article below we’ll be discussing the major gaps existing in corporate housing support in Japan, along with some of the underlying causes and our targeted solutions.
- A Steady Rise In Foreigner Employees, But Virtually No Increase In Housing Support?
- The Unrealized Need For Housing Support Amongst Japanese Companies
- Common Factors Preventing Effective Company Support
- FREA’s Expertise With Securing Housing For Foreigners in Japan
- Additional Corporate Offerings For Complete Relocation Support
- Corporate Relocation Support, One Client At A Time
A Steady Rise In Foreigner Employees, But Virtually No Increase In Housing Support?
In recent times, the number of foreigners arriving in Japan for work has consistently grown year after year. Although the average Japanese citizen may only think of the iconic English teacher, there are in fact a vast variety of skilled professionals being employed by both Japanese and non-Japanese companies. Some are indeed already residing in Japan and simply changing jobs, but a substantial portion are newly arrived expats.
Despite this continuous influx of foreigners, the housing assistance provided by companies themselves remains abysmally low, especially when compared to the handling in other countries. Foreigners arrive in Japan, only to find…virtually no definitive housing support from most companies, and often not even any leads on where to find a reliable agent to start the searching process.
The Unrealized Need For Housing Support Among Japanese Companies
Japanese companies aren’t intentionally neglecting or overlooking this lapse in housing support for foreigners—it just simply hasn’t ever been in the scope of their included company offerings for all standard staff (as most young graduates are still living at home with family or possess ample information on securing their own local housing).
Even when this need is pointed out, most companies don’t know where or how to start providing assistance. At FREA, we have seen many cases of HR staff being abruptly tasked with relocation and housing assistance on top of the usual onboarding tasks—in such cases the HR individuals do have reasonable levels of English ability, but are generally as unfamiliar with the relocation process for foreigners as the expat themselves.
One of the major corporations we have been assisting at FREA actually has a company dormitory available to select incoming expats—but even that has essentially no international support, as all associated paperwork are strictly in Japanese and the onsite caretaker (who handles said paperwork) speaks zero English.
Common Factors Preventing Effective Company Support
It would be inaccurate to say that there are virtually no housing and relocation support options for foreigners in Japan. While such services have existed for decades, they unfortunately tend to be prohibitively expensive and are thus only suitable for executive-level expats. Another lesser known option is the shataku-daikou—this method involves the employer company contracting a housing lease via a major housing corporation. This, too, comes with a hefty service bill.
A commonly proposed solution is to push for the houjin keiyaku (corporate lease contract), in which the company leverages it’s existing capital and prestige to effectively secure housing for an employee. But the corporate contract still comes with some approval obstacles (foreigners who cannot speak any Japanese may still be faced with rejection, and so on). Additionally, the delicate situation of having the employer become the primary leaseholder also raises topics such as potential tax issues and the fear of setting a double standard for providing company housing only to non-Japanese staff.
FREA’s Expertise With Securing Housing For Foreigners in Japan
At FREA, as a fully bilingual real estate agency that deals exclusively with foreigner clients, we are well-equipped to handle the unique needs of each non-Japanese employee seeking housing support. We carefully tailor every housing search to the specific client’s personal requests, while providing realistic input on the types and styles of homes one can expect to find in Japan. In addition to simply finding housing listings, we provide extensive area guidance—not only on which train lines are well-suited to the client’s commute, but also specific neighborhoods that align with their residential preferences.
Although we cannot completely eradicate all limiting factors in property selection, we can offer advisement on how to optimize the chances of a successful application. Additionally, our staff carefully screen all properties beforehand on if they are foreigner-friendly to actively minimize the amount of wasted time and frustration for each client.
Additional Corporate Offerings For Complete Relocation Support
There is much more to relocating than simply signing a new home—especially in a country as paperwork happy as Japan. Upon arriving, a new resident of Japan needs to visit their local ward or city office and register their official address (depending on the situation, they might also separately process paperwork for health insurance and national pension onsite). Without this officially registered address, foreigners in Japan are absolutely unable to open their bank account, as well as any other tasks which demand proof of address.
In many cases, there is limited or even no English support available at ward offices, banks and other service provider offices, making it difficult for newly arrived foreigner staff to complete all procedures by themselves. A typical real estate agency—even a foreigner-friendly one—does not provide support for these areas in any way. In most companies, support for these notoriously time-consuming tasks falls begrudgingly to the Japanese HR department, who are already burdened with their existing workload within the company.
FREA’s corporate relocation packages cover all those tasks and more—leave it to our experienced bilingual staff to accompany company employees to city/ward office matters, opening bank accounts, and even acquiring a cell phone plan. Continuing with our theme of bridging the language barrier, we also take care of both utility setup (electricity, gas & water) and cancellation as needed. Other add-on services include arrangements for professional moving services and airport pickup services.
Quality Corporate Relocation Support, One Client At A Time
Although FREA is but a small real estate company in the Tokyo landscape, we remain dedicated to our ongoing mission of providing our current and future corporate clients with a smooth, stress-free relocation experience for all staff involved—each and every time.
For new corporate inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org!