So, you've decided that you want to leave everything behind and move to “The Land of the Rising Sun”. But first, you've got to find out how you can actually do it. It's not as simple as just buying a plane ticket and jumping on the next plane.
The idea is to enter as a tourist and look for a job before your allowed stay runs out and you have to go back. This is near impossible if you don't already have a university degree or merits of higher education, and even if you have this it can be extremely difficult since employers rarely employ someone that don’t already have some kind of visa status other than tourist and have no experience of the Japanese language or society.
Basically you look for a job at a company in your own country that has a branch office in Japan. If you get the job, you try to be transferred to work at the branch office in Japan, which could take years if you even get the chance. The chances of this are very slim.
We consider this to be the best option to come to Japan, hands down. You will start learning the language, whether you’re a beginner or not, which gives you a head start in navigating Japanese society. You can rent your own apartment and work part-time while studying.
After you've studied for 1-2 years, you can either start looking for a full-time job or move on to study at higher education. Higher education in Japan mostly consists of universities and vocational schools.
A foreigner in Japan without a higher educational degree or without any special skills that are in high demand, the chances of finding a full-time job are quite slim.
This is probably the biggest expense you will have living in Japan. However, this largely depends on where in Japan you want to live. In Tokyo, accommodation will cost you from a minimum of 35,000 yen per month for a shared room in a guesthouse or around 60,000 yen for a single room in a shared house, to an average of 80,000 yen for a small single apartment. Please keep in mind that if you want to live in a convenient area of Tokyo, you’re looking at a 30-40% increase in rent.
If you on the other hand choose to live in another city than Tokyo, the cost of renting accommodation can be 20, 30 or even 50% lower compared to Tokyo.
The main utility expenses in Japan are electricity, gas and water. However, it's not that expensive and will usually cost about 5,000 yen per month in total if you're living in a guesthouse. If you're living in a single apartment it usually goes up to around 8,000 to 10,000 yen per month in total.
Internet subscriptions are usually very fast for an affordable price. A fiber optic connection starts at 3,000 yen up to around 6,000 yen per month, depending on what bandwidth you would like.
If you can buy groceries from a supermarket and cook at home, your expenses will be drastically lower than if you always go out to eat. You’ll save even more in other cities than Tokyo, since Tokyo's food prices are higher than average.
Dining out in Japan can sometimes be more affordable than cooking at home (depends very much on where you choose to eat, of course). Many people in Japan's urban areas eat out every day because it's cheap, fast and no dirty dishes to take care of afterward.
Japan is famous for its highly efficient and extensive public transportation network. Learning to use the trains and buses can be stressful in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it in no time. Don’t forget to buy your IC card!
When not riding a bus or train, most Japanese people ride a bicycle or walk. Walking is a very important part of life in Japan, so be prepared to do a lot of walking. Also, Japanese bicycle laws are pretty strict so make sure to abide by laws at all times because Japanese police will stop you if you don’t have a bike light at night or are using headphones while riding.
A mobile phone with a subscription plan will cost from 3000 up to 10,000 yen per month or more, depending on what model you choose and how much you call and use data services for. Have a look at this article to read more about mobile phones in Japan.
Have a look at some school's price pages at Go! Go! Nihon's website to get exact information on what each school will cost. One year's tuition will start on about 600,000 yen per year with a student visa. This may sound like a lot of money, but remember that it's for a whole year, 4 hours a day, 5 days a week of Japanese lessons, and you will also get a visa that allows you to work part-time while you study in Japan.
Of course we all need to have some fun now and then, but having too much fun in a city like Tokyo can run through your savings in a rush. A mug of beer in Tokyo usually starts from 150 yen up to 800 yen, depending on how fancy the place is. Since trains and buses only run until midnight or 1am, if you miss your ride home, be prepared to wait for the first train at 5am!
Usually (not always), there is a distinctive difference among foreigners in Japan. Some people put energy into learning the Japanese language and customs, get many Japanese friends, business opportunities and the chance to experience amazing things.
Others never put forth the effort in adapting to life in Japan. There are many foreigners that don’t bother learning Japanese or Japanese customs with the exception of a few phrases. Living in Japan can be very stressful for someone that doesn’t know the language. Yes, Japan is a great place to live, but only if you make an effort to adapt yourself to Japanese society.
Some people enjoy life in Japan and get to try everything Japan has to offer. Some people miss the opportunity and don't.
A lot of working areas in Japan where you find foreigners are teaching, translating and IT-related jobs, but if you're persistent and a bit lucky, you might find something that fits your area of expertise.
However, trying to find work in Japan without a degree, visa or skills in the Japanese language is extremely hard to impossible.
In the rare case of you actually being granted a Japanese citizenship, this means that you have to give up your current one. Children born in Japan with dual citizenship aren't legally forced to give up one or another, but the Japanese government strongly advises them to do so. At the immigration bureau, you can find posters depicting people standing on a globe, cheerfully encouraging people to "Let's all choose only one citizenship".
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