Moving to Japan was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Yes, it hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
My inbox is constantly flooded with people asking if they should move to Japan. People just like you!
I designed this quiz to give you a general idea of whether moving to Japan is something you should consider. It might not be the most scientific of all quizzes, but along with the information on this page, it should help clarify a few things and make the decision easier.
So! Let’s get to it!
Quick tip: Looking to travel instead? I’ve made a quiz to help you decide where to visit in Japan!
Should you move to Japan Quiz Coming soon!
Considerations before moving to Japan
Get yourself a cheap flight
If you’re wondering ‘Should I move to Japan?”, getting your flight out here might seem like a trivial expense but with so many things going on at once, it pays to keep things cheap and simple.
I constantly talk about these guys on A Day of Zen, because I truly believe they offer the best way to get dirt cheap flights to Japan.
All you have to do is sign up for an exclusive (yet free!) membership at Going, and they’ll send you the best deals, and mistake fare prices (the one we’re most interested in!) for your flight to Japan.
I saved a family member 90% on their ticket price recently, hopefully, it’ll do the same for you when you move out here!
Figuring out finance options
Whether you’re looking to move to Japan or simply going on holiday over here it’s imperative to have finance options available.
If you’re in need of a multi-currency account to pool your cash together, or simply want a card that you can use abroad without incurring fees, Wise is the company to choose. I’ve used them for a long time and they’re ideal for travelers!
If you’re staying over here long term, you may have to open up a Japanese bank account, and paying directly from Wise is a great way to cut out those pesky hidden fees!
It’s hard to suggest exactly how much you’ll need to move when you come over to Japan as a lot of that is dependent on your circumstances, desires, and visa status. In fact, when you apply for a working holiday visa, you’ll have to prove you have ‘sufficient’ funds to live in Japan and be able to pay for a flight home. In the UK that was £2,500, so having at least $2,000 is a must before you even get the visa.
If you work as a ski instructor, you may be able to find a place to live and receive reduced fees for your first month or so, especially if you plan on working for the same employer for an extended period.
Finding a Job
Unless you’ve got a Job lined up, or enough money to keep you going for a while, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’re going to make money. Finding a job in Japan isn’t always easy, and depending on what visa you have there may be restrictions on the type of work can do as well.
But with some research and dedication, it’s totally possible to figure everything out and live your best life in Japan!
One of the most popular routines when people consider the move to Japan, is they teach English to make money. There are a lot of schools and academies throughout Japan that you can work for, either on a full-time or part-time basis.
You may also be able to find a job as an assistant language teacher (ALT) at public schools, or even with private companies as a business English teacher (BET). The latter of which pays a lot better, but may require some sort of TEFL certification or more.
If you’re looking for something more creative, there are plenty of freelance opportunities too.
That’s a long list, which is why I wrote an article on the 20 ways to make money in Japan. So check that out if you’re considering moving out here!
Just make sure that you read up on the local laws and regulations, as there may be restrictions on what you can do. Visas are a tricky mistress!
Finally, if you’re looking for a more traditional job, then the hospitality industry has plenty to offer. Or if that sounds too boring, go to one of Japan’s ski resorts and teach skiing. That’s what I almost did!
You’ll be happy to know that, in general, Japan is a very safe country to live in.
Crime rates are low, and you rarely have to worry about petty theft or anything like that. Of course, these things can always happen, but I feel 100 times safer here than I did in the UK.
In terms of natural disasters, Japan is well-prepared for earthquakes and typhoons thanks to its advanced early warning systems and incredible infrastructure. And it’s a high possibility that you will be in an earthquake when you move to Japan, but most are nothing more than a small and brief shake.
Japan also has a great healthcare system, so you’ll be in safe hands should anything happen while you’re out here. Just make sure to sign yourself up for Japan’s health insurance at your local government office!
The culture difference
One of the biggest considerations about moving to Japan is the cultural difference. While it’s true that parts of Japan are the ‘wacky’ and ‘crazy’ Japan you’ve likely seen on social media, there are a number of deeper differences that will affect daily life which you need to know about.
The language barrier is perhaps one of the biggest challenges, but with enough effort, you’ll get by. It’s important to respect the culture and customs of Japan when you move here; try to learn as much as you can, even if you never become fluent, everyone will appreciate the effort!
In terms of food, there are a lot of traditional Japanese dishes that will take some time to get used to. But that shouldn’t be too much of an issue unless you’re living with a Japanese family (even then, it depends on what they eat) or somehow living in a temple.
There’s also the traditional Japanese living style: small apartments and tiny kitchens that can be a bit of a shock, especially true if you’re on a smaller budget. But with enough research and planning you can find something suitable.
Picking the right visa
By no means am I a Japanese visa expert, but I did have to apply for a working holiday visa about 4 times around 2020. No prizes for guessing why!
While Japan is known for being fairly strict with the majority of its visas, if you want to move to Japan, there’s a high possibility that you probably can.
Yes, you may have to jump through a few (or a few thousand…) hoops, but if you do enough research and speak to the right people, moving to Tokyo, or moving to Japan, in general, is probably a lot closer than you think!
Choosing the correct location
If you’re relocating to Japan, choosing the right location is critical. However, if you’re applying for a teaching job, or any job for that matter, you may not get the choice.
Though, as far as I’m concerned, ending up in some cute little suburban is what this adventure is all about!
If you’ve got your heart set on doing a ski season, you’re obviously going to have that location set for you as well. But, you still get to make the choice of which resort you want to go to! …anyway, that’s an article for another time.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which city suits your needs best!
Living in Japan isn’t a holiday
The final point on this very brief introduction to moving to Japan is that it’s important to remember that coming here for a short trip and relocating permanently are two totally different things.
It’s important to remember that living in a country is… just that, living. You likely won’t be able to spend all your time eating all the food you want and visiting all those attractions you see on Instagram.
The reality you may not have thought about involves a lot of paperwork, red tape, and perhaps feeling like you don’t fit in. However, for myself and almost everyone I’ve met, the pros drastically outweigh the cons.
Enough for me to make an entire website on the country, anyway!
FAQs about moving to Japan
Can US citizens move to Japan?
Yes, US citizens can move to Japan if they have the right visa. Every country has its own rules when it comes to immigration so it’s important to do as much research as possible before moving.
I moved to Japan on a working holiday visa as that best suited my circumstances. Depending on your situation and the country you’re a resident of, there will be different visas for you to choose from.
How long can I stay in Japan?
Tourist visas usually start from 3 months and working holiday visas from 6 months up to a year. (Luckily for me, I get a year!)
There are other types of visas such as student, working, or family that will allow you to stay longer (5 years+) if you meet the requirements. Some of these can also be extended depending on which visa you’re on.
Is it hard for a foreigner to live in Japan?
It’s not hard to live in Japan, although it did take some time to get used to the culture and customs for me. A lot of people living in Japan would say that it is one of the best places to live, despite the challenges that they sometimes face.
The biggest issue you may face is that you might have to be comfortable with not feeling like you fit in 100% of the time. Sometimes, Japanese people don’t always say what they’re feeling, so that’s something you might have to get used to as well.
Again, sweeping statements, and it won’t always be true but it’s still worth knowing.
How much money do you need to move to Japan?
The amount of money you need to move to Japan depends on your visa and circumstances. You’ll also need to factor in costs such as flights, insurance, accommodation, living expenses, mandatory pension, and more.
If you’re coming over as part of a job, speak to your employer and they may be able to give you a better idea. If you’re coming over to Japan with a working holiday visa, a few thousand dollars or enough for a couple of months while finding a job should be enough.
Can I move to Japan without a Job?
Yes, you can move to Japan without a job if you have the right visa. For instance, on a working holiday visa, with the main reason being a ‘cultural exchange’ and to travel, it is possible to live in Japan without having a job, at least temporarily.