What is the Cost of Living in Japan?
Is Living in Japan a Realistic Option?
Japan is one of the most beautiful, interesting and cultured countries in the world so of course many of us have thought about taking the plunge and living in Japan. But looking at images of Kimonos, Cherry Blossoms and Landscapes is not a true representation of what the country has to offer, especially if you’re considering uprooting your entire life so we’ve put together a brief guide to show you what living in Japan really has to offer and whether it is a realistic opportunity.
If you are thinking of living in Japan, then your first step naturally is to look for suitable accommodation. As with any other country, the closer to the city centre that you live, the more expensive the accommodation and especially in cities such as Tokyo, the accommodation tends to be a lot smaller in size.
Accommodation within the Japanese cities can be broken down into three tiers: apato, mansions and gaijin. It’s important to know which of these you will be living in before you sign any type of lease as the accommodation can be quite different.
Apato tend to be smaller apartments located within older buildings. These buildings are usually no higher than two storeys and tend to be made of either wood or light steels so understandably the walls tend to be thin. If you are looking at moving into an Apato then it may be a good idea to ask who your neighbours are because if they like to play loud music, you may end up with many sleepless nights.
Mansions differ from what we class as mansions in the UK. Mansions in Japan are larger apartments within new buildings. These buildings are often taller than apato and tend to be made from concrete making them much more appealing for some. Lastly in popular accommodation within living in Japan is the gaijin house. Gaijin houses are shared houses, these houses vary so you may get your own studio flat with a personal bathroom or you may have to share living areas and bathroom facilities with other members of your house.
Whether you choose to live within an apato, mansion or a gaijin house may very much depend on your budget. The average price for living within a private apartment such as an apato or mansion will cost upwards of ¥100,000 per month which roughly converts to about £650+. If you choose to go for the shared living accommodation you may pay anything from ¥40,000 to ¥100,000 so around £250-£650 per month. Utilities may or may not be included in your monthly rent so before signing on the dotted line, check with your company as you don’t want any nasty surprises at the end of the month.
In Japan, food is fairly cheap! We don’t want to get your hopes up but the cost of daily eating out and purchasing a weekly shop is a great value for money however there are some tricks which you need to be aware of before booking your plan ticket.
Firstly, food is reasonably inexpensive as long as you buy Japanese produce such as vegetables, rice, noodles, seafood instead of imported brands so you may have to say goodbye to Marmite! When living in Japan, the big food discount deals in supermarkets can be found at the end of the day. In Japan, they don’t tend to keep fresh produce for more than a day so in the evening there are plenty of bargains to be had.
Eating out in Japan is also very affordable, especially within the city centres, you’ll be surrounded by numerous food courts and chances are that if you can’t see one then they’ll be located in the basement of your favourite department’s stores. If food courts aren’t you’re thing, then many Japanese restaurants offer set meals at lunchtime at great prices. Eating Japanese cuisine has many health benefits, find out about how is you Eat Like the Japanese you can lose weight and live longer!
If your living accommodation is quite far from your place of work then you will be questioning potential transportation costs which could occur on a daily basis. Living in a larger city means that you are more than likely going to need transport to get from A to B. The good news is that there are lots of options available such as subways, buses, cycling and driving. Although initially train and subways passes may seems expensive, you’ll find that if you’re only travelling to specific zones then you can score yourself some cheaper fares and there are rail cards and discounts also.
Driving in Japan should be avoided if you can as there are a lot of hidden expenses such as annual inspections, fee for parking and auto mobile tax. Cars and petrol are relatively cheap to buy however don’t be drawn in by the low prices as all the additional costs are sure to add up.
As with many countries in the world, you can’t just turn up to Japan and hope to get a job. There are rules and regulations, you’ll need to apply and be granted an appropriate visa first of all. A tourist visa will not allow you to work at all so unless you’re willing to be deported, we’d strongly advise against this. A student visa will also not permit you to undertake paid work in Japan unless you have attained permission from the immigration office, again, it’s better to be safe than sorry so check your visa first before applying for jobs.
There are numerous working visas though which you can apply for and Japan do have skills which are in high demand. Obviously being able to speak Japanese is a massive bonus but if you don’t have the second language nailed yet then there are still other opportunities such as Language Instructors, Engineers, IT and Entertainment. Learn about Japanese Salaries.
Another route to look at going down is applying for a Working Holiday Visa. These one year visas are available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Korea, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Working Holiday Visas allow you to work and play while living in Japan. This type of visa is perfect for those who are interested in living in Japan but want to give it a test run first. Note that you must be 18-30 years old to be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa.
Is Living in Japan a Realistic Option?
Yes, of course it is! Japan is a lovely country filled with tradition, culture and opportunity. If you are interested in living in Japan then carry out some extensive research and start planning your new adventure. Be realistic though because you don’t want to get caught out but when it comes to food, transport, working and accommodation then Japan is your oyster so to speak.
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