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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Moving Out of the Prefecture (A Guide)

Alright, it's time to talk about moving. Although I have technically moved once, from Tokyo to Fukuoka, that was four years ago. And I had a lot less stuff (books) then, which made the move relatively simple. This time, I was bringing a lot more books and a piano and quite a few kimonos as well, which made things a lot more complicated.

So this is what I did before and after the move and hopefully any kouhai's who are moving (to a new uni, or to work within Japan) will find this useful.

Before Moving
Luckily for me, I made a Google Keep list so I know what I did.

1. Hire a moving company
The smart thing to do would be to get a few companies to come and give you estimates, and then choose the best, but I just went with the company that was affiliated to the real estate agent. The company was Sakai and I got a free bag of rice when they came to give me an estimate.

Moving was not cheap though - it was definitely the biggest expense at 81,000 yen and this was after a discount.

I have heard that the earlier you book the company, the higher the chance of getting a discount, so try to get this settled one month in advance (I did actually do this). The company did provide me with cardboard boxes, though they weren't sufficient. And if you run into the same problem, try going to the nearest supermarket because that's where I got extra cardboard boxes (of course, some companies may not allow this so do check first)

2. Send in your notice to move to your present landlord

Ok that was some awkward phrasing there, but basically, you should notify your landlord (via your real estate agent, depending on the circumstance) at least a month in advance or however far ahead you have to. It might change according to your contract, so once you're starting to look for a new house, it might be a good idea to send your estate agent an email or call them to see how much advance notice you need to give.

3. Break Electricity, Gas and Water

This should be done about a week in advance, so that you don't get charged for utilities after you move. I think some of the services have the option for you to do so online, but to be honest each call took less than five minutes each and I found it to be hasslefree.

4. Call up your new utility companies

I did this the same time that I called to stop the utilities at my old place. This is really because you want to be able to have electricity and water and gas on your first day. Although in my case, I found out that my house didn't come with lighting fixtures after I moved it (after the sun had set, I might add) so the electricity was... okay it was useful because I had to charge my phone and used it for my electric blanket.

5. Paperwork at the City Office

To be honest I am very bad at paperwork so what I did was to go to the City Hall and tell them I was moving and did everything they told me to do. I might add that if you turn 20 in Japan, you might want to settle your 年金手帳 (pension booklet?) before you move. I didn't know about this and after I moved, I realised that everyone gets this (except me, apparently) and because you'll want to get an exemption for your student years, it's really a good idea to settle the paperwork for this while you're in the same city as your university and in the same place where you turned twenty. Remember to bring proof of schooling (how long you are enrolled) when you do this.

Of course, if you're really smart, you'll settle this once you turn 20 because apparently you have to apply for the exemption on a yearly basis.

6. Set up mail forwarding

This can be mailed in, done at the post office or over the internet but I think doing it at the post office might be the most convenient. I did it online and the 全角数 requirement caused me quite a few delays because the system would not recognise what I put in (even though I double checked and was using that. It was really strange - I think I switched to my handphone after a while because of that). Apparently it takes about one week for this to process so make sure you allocate time for that.

7. Internet?

This is a tricky one. Do you want to get a new contract, or just move? I ended up with a new contract but that left me with over a week (maybe 10 days? I'm not sure I blocked that out) of living with absolutely no internet and 15 days without wifi. The only reason why I didn't go half a month without wifi was because my new provider sent me a free mobile wifi router to tide me over and that took quite some time to come. So if you're getting a new provider, make sure you do this well in advance.

After the move

1. Register yourself at the new city

To be honest after the move is the easiest part (Except when you unpack and realise that you need to buy furniture). The only paperwork that I remember doing is registering myself at Sasebo City Hall, but that took two or three hours because of the pension thing so yeah, please don't learn from me.

2. If you have a driver's license, you need to get the address changed

This can be done at the nearest police station, and you need to bring documents that show your new address, so this is definitely something to do after you register yourself with the city and have your address officially changed.

I have heard of people who decide on a house and move in two weeks and to be honest I have no idea how they do that. Most of the paperwork might have been done a week in advance, but the packing took a very long time (or maybe it's just me) and I wouldn't want to have to search for a moving company with so little time.

Anyway, this is what I did and I think that covers all the bases. Hopefully it can be a checklist on what you need to do when you move, and if you can think of anything else, do let me know! Here's a photo taken near my new place to end this post:

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