Single Person Moving House: How to Save Moving Cost


photo by Nicolas Huk

There are so many mid-to-long term residents in Japan, who are studying, working, traveling across the country on working holiday visa, or staying for some other reasons. While part of them are living in Japan with their families, the majority of them are single persons. Most of them have had one or more occasions to move house during their stay in Japan. In fact, it is quite lucky if they haven’t had to move house even once. Well, moving to a new place would be a piece of cake if you are just backpacking, because only thing you have to take is your stuffed backpack. Otherwise, moving house would be a tiring and costly hard labor. But even though laboring is unavoidable, everyone would want to save as much cost as possible, at least. So, how can we save moving cost?


1. Moving house by rental car

Renting a car and transporting things by yourself would be the cheapest method if you don’t mind laboring. In most cases, a small truck would be big enough to all belongings including furniture, home appliances and daily necessities. Unless you own a truck, renting one is the easiest way. The costs to hire a truck would be:

  • Lightweight truck: approx. 8000yen/24 hours
  • 2t truck: approx. 12000yen/24 hours

Remember, the maximum loading weight of lightweight truck is 350kg, and the maximum loading dimension is “2m height x 3.4m length x 1.48m width”. The weight limit is a lot lower than a 2t truck, therefore this is not suitable if you wish to transport things exceeding this weight and size.

Also, if you are moving house by yourself, you will have to do all the works such as packing, loading, pick up/drop off of the rental car. If you are traveling a long distance, you may have to rent a car for 2 days to return the car by deadline, or pay one-way charge which is quite expensive. Therefore, this may not be the cheapest option for long distance moving.


2. Using package deal of moving service provider

In Japan, there are many moving companies operating nationwide. Major courier companies also provide moving services for single persons by using their great transport networks. Among these services, moving package deals are great values. A container, which is actually a large metal basket, is provided to place items. The size of a container varies depending on companies, but roughly 1.3㎥ to 1.8㎥.

The prices, which is the most important part, are calculated based on distance and number of containers hired. For example, rough idea of the cost to send one container load from Tokyo to Osaka is as follows. 

  • Nippon Express: Tokyo – Osaka approx. 26000yen
  • SG Moving (Sagawa): Tokyo – Osaka approx. 29400yen
  • SEINO (2㎥): Tokyo – Osaka approx. 42120yen

Note that the prices above are transport cost only, and fees for packing materials and used package collection are not included. Also, items have to be packed before moving day. Moving company staff will assist you to pack and load large items such as refrigerator and washing machine.


3. Use normal service of moving company

If your have a large size of items and they cannot be loaded in a container of package deal, normal moving service would be cheaper than moving packages. The most important point when using moving company is to obtain as many quotes as possible before you make a booking, from 5 companies or more. The prices of moving companies frequently change depending on season and the size of shipment. In addition, there is no flat rate or fixed rate for moving services. Therefore, having lots of quotes from many moving providers and comparing their pricing is crucial to find the cheapest offer. The following is a list of major moving companies in Japan. 

Moving companies

Sakai Moving Service
Art Corporation

Moving service by courier company

Nippon Express
SG Moving (Sagawa)


4. Using Akabo (Redcap)

Moving service by Akabo is convenient method for single persons to move house. First of all, Akabo is not a company, but a large union formed by lightweight truck transporters across Japan. They have many branch offices all over the country, and each office or even individual transporter promptly respond your inquiries or booking. The basic service of Akabo is, a driver comes to your place to assist loading packed items and transport them to the destination. They are not moving service providers; therefore, you will need to load and unload your items with the driver.

The price starts from 13500yen. This includes 2 hours labor, single transport up to 20km of distance by one driver and one truck. If the load or distance exceeds these, additional fees will be charged according to distance and labor hours. Make sure to obtain free quote before booking, because the pricing is slightly different in each region. The following is an example of charges of Akabo. 





























Note that Akabo is lightweight truck transporter, therefore the maximum weight is 350kg and all the size of consignment should not exceed 180cm length x 140cm width.


Tips for singles when moving house

  • The cost of moving becomes cheaper as the size of shipment becomes smaller. Check all your items and dispose unwanted items before packing.
  • Other than moving package deals for single persons, there is no fixed or scaled rate for prices of moving companies, since everyone has different size of shipment. It is important to obtain as many quotes as possible (from at least 5 providers) to find the best price.
  • If you are using a moving company or Akabo, packing materials can be purchased from them most of the time. However, if you are transporting your items by rental car, you will need to prepare packing materials and pack things by yourself.
  • The peak season for moving is normally March and April, and moving service providers become extremely busy and the price shoots up. August and September are meant to be busy, however, all moving companies have different peak season of their own, and there may be large differences between quotes from them.


New home, new hope

Unlike family household, single persons have less things to carry, therefore more options are available. Some may be able to move to a new place with just one suitcase. But normally, it is better to book a moving service provider because there are things like fridge and washing machine. If you are moving within the same city, renting a car and transporting things by yourself or booking Akabo would be the similar amount of spending. But these methods are not practical if you are moving a long distance. In such a case, using a package deal for single person would be the cheapest way. But no matter of what method you actually use, reducing the size of shipment is crucial. Moving house is the best occasion to dispose unwanted belongings. Why not sort out your stuff on this occasion?





あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

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