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Hi everyone,

I'm looking to move to Japan at the begining of next year, and was hoping I could get some help.

A little background first, I intend on getting a job in Japan (though no translation/teaching type jobs), my Japanese is excellent and I have a degree in Japanese from my undergrad. I will also have a MBA, but very minimal work experience. My language ability is on the fluent level, so I'm not too concerned about communication with locals.

I'm trying to figure out the approximate cost of living for a single person in Tokyo. I will need to find an apartment, etc. and eventually negotiate for a salary, so I've been trying to do some research for how much it may cost to live there. I essentially would like to know what kind of base salary would allow me to live comfortably, and how much I would be able to spend on an apartment.

I would prefer to live in someplace reasonable (i.e. not a closet), and I believe I probably won't have many problems if I talk to local realtors, landlords, etc. Any sort of break down or advice would be much appreciated, and if there's any other information I can fill in please don't hesitate to ask.

As always guys, thanks for the help!
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

I know folks here get tired of us harping on this, but have you worked out your visa situation yet? Friends of mine moved to Japan last year, and although they have traveled quite a bit over the years, they were surprised at how strict the Japanese visa procedures seem to be. Fortunately, the husband's company handled all that stuff for them, but it was a long (and I imagine expensive) process.

The Japanese Embassy has a very informative FAQ page here: Embassy of Japan which includes considerable detail about the various categories of working visas.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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As a guide, English teachers in a conversation school (eikaiwa) get paid around 250,000 yen a month gross, which is just about enough for a single person to live on simply but without spending too much on going out and entertainment (which can be expensive). Accommodation will usually be in a subsidised apartment. Reckon to pay at least 50 to 60,000 yen a month for a small apartment in a not too expensive area of Tokyo, plus utility bills (which aren't cheap). You can live on a lot less in the provinces, but pay will be correspondingly lower.
If you have good language skills but little work experience in a commercial sense, you won't get much of a look in other than language-related work (translating, interpreting, teaching etc). From an employer's point of view, why jump through hoops to sponsor someone for a visa when he or she offers no more than a recent Japanese graduate in English? What is your unique selling point?
 

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Hi, and thanks for th replies!

As for the visas, I'm not to worried about that at this point. I currently have interviews set up for next year and am able to go over on a 3 month tourist visa. If I get employment I will eventually get sponsorship (I will not be working on the tourist visa), and if not I will be back in the US looking for work. I only plan on getting a more permanent place to live once I get employed, and I of course have contingencies depending on what happens.

In regards to uniques skills, I would agree that perhaps I may not have any. However, my English and Japanese are both native level, I have also lived and studied Chinese in Taiwan, some experience in using Japanese and English at work with overseas suppliers (as well as employees, customers, etc.), and have a graduate degree in international business. I have found that there are some international minded or foreign owned companies that may be interested in employing me, and like I mentioned before even in the case that it does not happen, I have planned accordingly. However, my primarly concern at this point is that in the case that I do manage to get employed, what can I expect living in Japan as far as costs.

So based on your reply I can assume that the bare minimum for living in Tokyo would be 200,000-250,000 yen/month. I would also be interested in what the average cost of living in tokyo might be for a foreign national. If any expats would be willing to share their experience, I would love to hear any advice.

As always, thanks for the help!
 

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Just a little thing to mention regarding renting an apartment. It doesn't matter how good your Japanese is, some real estates and landlords simply refuse to rent to foreigners full stop. So don't be shocked if your are politely refused by being told "Sorry, there is nothing suitable here for you." accompanied by a smile and a bow with their arm outstretched to show where the door is.

When my Japanese boyfriend and I were looking for a place we just kept walking into real estate agencies and asked straight up "Do you accept foreigners?". Then, once we looked through the listings and picked out something we would like to inspect, we asked the agent to first ring and ask the landlord if foreigners are okay. Half the time they said no, and although it was annoying, I just flicked the page over and said "Okay how about this one?"

There are some real estate agents that cater specifically to foreigners, but the ones that I could afford were crappy. The real estate agents for the expats sent over by their company are fantastic but unfortunately way out of my price range - like triple my salary!
 

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Hi, and thanks for th replies!

In regards to uniques skills, I would agree that perhaps I may not have any. However, my English and Japanese are both native level, I have also lived and studied Chinese in Taiwan, some experience in using Japanese and English at work with overseas suppliers (as well as employees, customers, etc.), and have a graduate degree in international business. I have found that there are some international minded or foreign owned companies that may be interested in employing me, and like I mentioned before even in the case that it does not happen, I have planned accordingly. However, my primarly concern at this point is that in the case that I do manage to get employed, what can I expect living in Japan as far as costs.

As always, thanks for the help!
I appreciate your enthusiasm and wish you the best of luck, the problem is it is almost impossible for a foreigner to get a job that a Japanese national can do. The economy is bad and a lot of Japanese are out of work now. There are thousands of Japanese that speak English and Japanese that cannot find work. Having the skill of speaking 2 languages almost always puts you in the teaching market.

If you are non asian, just by being a foreigner, it goes a long way in getting a job as a English teacher. Japanese like to take English from non Asian people. They feel as they are getting a real english conversation education, even though a asian descent person might speak perfect English.

Tokyo used to be very easy to find English teaching jobs as a foreigner, but with the growing foreign population in big cities such as Tokyo, even that is becoming more difficult.

Best of luck.
 
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