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Moving to Japan from USA

Introduction 

A country with an expat population of about 2.93 million certainly has a lot to offer. Think of the comfortable and technologically advanced toilets, an effective rail transport system, Tokyo and her rich culture, and the fine blend of historic splendor and modernity, and what comes to mind is Japan. If you are thinking of moving to Japan, you are on the right track to having an amazing adventure and creating the most cherished memory of your lifetime. But what happens if you are an American? Can Americans move to Japan? And how hard is it to move to Japan? 

According to Statista, about 76,000 Americans are living in Japan. So, yes, Americans can move to Japan even if moving to Japan from the USA is not particularly easy. However, you must understand that getting the right documents and making the right preparations could significantly ease your relocation to the Land of the Rising Sun. Also, utilizing the right moving company can give you a better chance of breathing the Japanese air and having the time of your life in this beautiful country. 

Moving to Japan from USA

Requirements for Moving to Japan 

Relocating to Japan is not expected to be easy but it could be easier than you thought with the right preparations. One basic preparation step is to ensure that you have all the requirements sorted out. So, here are some of the requirements for Americans moving to Japan. 

  • Find a job and ensure you get a job offer
  • Get admittance into a Japanese school 
  • Get all the relevant paperwork sorted (Certificate of Eligibility, etc.)
  • Apply for a visa 
  • Find an apartment 
  • Sort out your health insurance 
  • Open a bank account 
  • Get a Japanese telephone number
  • Learn the language  

Japanese Visa for US citizens 

Since the United States is a visa-exempt country, US citizens can stay in Japan for ninety days as long as their passports are valid. Moving to Japan as an American typically means that you would get a tourist visa that is valid for ninety days on arrival in Japan at no cost. However, if you plan to live longer in order to school or work in the country, you would have to apply for a visa. 

The cost of a visa to Japan depends on your nationality and purpose of traveling. Regardless, here are the different visa types available in Japan and their costs. 

Visa Type Cost
Single entry$28
Double entry$56
Multiple entry visa$56
Extension of re-entry visa$28

Even with this, Japan has over twenty-seven visa options available even if they could strictly be grouped into the working visa, non-working visa (study visa), and family visa. So, ensure to apply for the one that matches your reason for moving. 

Cherry blossoms in spring, chureito pagoda and fuji mountain in japan

Cost to Move to Japan 

When estimating the cost of moving to Japan, you must consider the airfare, the cost of accommodation, the cost of moving your pets, and most importantly, the cost of shipping your belongings to the Land of the Rising Sun. As regards shipping your belongings, you can stay confident with us because we offer an excellent moving experience and relieve you from all the stress at a minimal cost. You can quickly check to get a quote from us now. 

As regards the cost of shipping your things to Japan, it is important to understand that it depends on what exactly you are shipping. If you decide to use shipping companies like Parcel Monkey, you could spend around $27 on a light packet and $121 on Worldwide Expedited Drop off. So, the total shipping cost depends on the weight of what you intend to ship. 

Although this may seem fair enough, there are still so many other things that could inform your overall cost of relocating to Japan. For instance, if you decide to use an agent in Japan to secure an apartment for yourself, you certainly have to add the agent fee and any other expenses that you may incur while doing your cost of moving calculations. 

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Japan? 

While moving to Japan from USA provides you with a golden opportunity to access all the luxuries of this terrific Asian country, there are still so many things that would determine how luxurious your stay would be. Fine, Japan is an exotic country, but with all the glamour comes an expensive living standard (cost of living). 

Since the average monthly cost of living for a single person in Japan is 310,849JPY, you would need about $3,000 a month to live comfortably in Japan as an American. Also, if you have a family of four, you would need nothing less than $5000 a month to stay comfortably in the land of the Rising Sun. So, let’s move to the cost of living comparative analysis as provided by Expatistan.  

Item Cost in Japan (USD) Cost in the US (USD)
Clothes (a pair of jeans)6647
A short visit to the doctor (15 minutes)47112
128GB wifi468422
A liter of gas1.230.68
A bottle of red wine1314
The monthly rent for a 900sq ft apartment in a city center2,7182,188

Most people who live in Japan without being citizens (which is possible) have to add the cost of extending or renewing their visas when estimating the overall cost of living in Japan. However, even if the cost of living in Japan is about the same, there are still some differences. Now, for you to have a glorious stay, you need to understand how life is in Japan vs the United States. Here is a comparative analysis of life in Japan and the US. 

Life in JapanLife in the US
People in Japan are always punctual; it is a sign of respect.This is the direct opposite in the US, but it depends on the individual. 
Japanese people pay close attention to their toilet or sanitary wares; hence the complex toilet designs. Toilets in the US are regular toilets; hence there is nothing complicated.
Coffee in Japan is stronger and darker.American coffee is lighter.

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Healthcare System 

The healthcare system in Japan is regarded as one of the best in the world since it offers free (although it’s not entirely free) medical services to citizens, permanent residents, and expatriates. This is why it ranks 10th in the world for best healthcare. Since it adopted the universal healthcare system in 1961, Japan has kept its position as the country with one of the highest life expectancies (88 years for women and 75 years for men). This proves that when you eventually move to Japan, your healthcare worries will be lifted off your shoulders.   

Since you will be expected to get either public or private healthcare coverage as soon as you arrive, it is only pivotal that you understand how expensive Japanese healthcare is. 

First off, even if the Japanese healthcare system may seem free, it still requires the patients to pay premiums for their medical coverage, thus 30% of their total bills are paid by the Japanese citizens. According to Japanese Health Info, the average cost of the first consultation fee in Japan would cost between $45 and $90 while the average cost of delivery is between $4,500 and $9,000. This, when compared to the US, is slightly cheaper depending on the state.  

What jobs are in Demand in Japan? 

Foreigners can work in Japan when they have obtained their work permit and have successfully gotten a job in the country. However, the easiest way for foreigners to get a job in Japan is to move down to Japan as most employers would quickly employ a foreigner who is in Japan since they do not have to sponsor him. But for foreigners to quickly find a job in Japan, they can utilize websites like Gaijinpot, Daijob, and Link Japan Careers

As an American moving to Japan, it is important to know what jobs are in demand in Japan to help you get a better chance in the job market. Here is the list of jobs available for Americans and their average monthly salaries. 

JobSalary (JPY)Salary (USD)
Accountant530,0004,785
Teacher200,0001,806
Architect478,0004,315
Software Engineer514,0004,641
Web Designer436,0003,937
Nurse418,0003,774

Education System 

If you intend to move to Japan from USA for study purposes, you will have to first apply to a school in Japan, get admittance into the school, and then go on with processing your visa. That’s the only way you can move to Japan for study purposes. However, as regards the Japanese educational system, the fact that education from elementary school to middle school is free does not make university education free. But consideration is given to students who come from families with low incomes. 

However, if you have kids who are still in high school or middle school, enrolling them in an international school, although it is not a bad idea, can be quite expensive. Overall, the educational system in Japan is regarded as one of the best in the world, so there is practically nothing to worry about.  

Best Place to Live in Japan 

Yasaka pagoda and sannen zaka street in kyoto, japan

Japan is a wonderful East Asian nation with 772 cities that would enthrall you. That is why you need to know what places are the best to reside in. So, here are the best four places to live in Japan. 

Tokyo 

Besides being the capital of Japan, Tokyo deserves to be first on the list because of all the terrific transportation systems, lots of museums, and restaurants. This is why there is always a place to visit if you are the kind that loves to explore or wander for a while. The only bad thing is that Tokyo is expensive but with all the convenient shopping, great sites to visit, and a lovely environment, you would see that it is truly worth every yen. 

Hiroshima 

This city is enclosed in history as there are still traces of the 1945 bombing that has formed an integral part of the city. You could spend your free time visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial Museum, and Hiroshima Castle. It is considered one of the safest cities in Japan, so you have nothing to worry about as regards your safety.    

Yokohama 

This is a major city that gives you access to all the wonderful cities in Japan. Although it is as big and as populated as Tokyo,  accommodation is relatively cheaper.  You could spend your evenings shopping at the Minato Mirai or strolling around the Osanbashi Pier. With the best food available to you and the rich culture of Yokohama, it wouldn’t take long till it feels like home. 

Kyoto

If you are into history, then perhaps Kyoto is the best place for you. Before Tokyo became the capital of Japan, Kyoto had been the capital for years until Tokyo took over in 1868. You could spend your weekends visiting the beautiful temples and shrines, as well as visiting Yasaka Pagoda. There are just so many places to visit in Kyoto. Did you know there are 17 world heritage sites in Kyoto?

Weather 

Japan has a temperate climate with four seasons namely spring, summer, fall, and winter. Depending on where you intend to stay (the Pacific area or the Sea area of Japan), the climatic conditions may vary. However, it is best to visit Japan in Spring, when the country wears the beauty of cherry blossoms. 

In the winters, which are usually between December and February, the temperature is usually between 30℉ and 45℉. Whereas in a typical Japanese summer temperature is between 70 and 90℉. The temperature in Springs is usually between 40 and 65℉ and the temperature in autumn is typically between 73℉ and 82℉. But it all depends on what part of the country you reside in. 

Pros and Cons of Living in Japan 

While living in Japan would open so many doors of opportunities, there are also some disadvantages you are bound to notice. It is not always rosy in the Land of the Rising Sun and at first, you would experience culture shock but trust us, with time, you will be just fine as you make Japan your second home. But for now, here are the pros and cons of living in Japan. 

ProsCons
There are lots of job opportunities.There is almost no work-life balance. 
There is an organized public transport system. Opening a bank account is difficult. 
Shopping is top-notch.There are so many natural disasters. 
It is easy to get health insurance.Smoking in public places is allowed.
The food is great.Renting an apartment is difficult for foreigners.
The streets are clean.There is prejudice against foreigners. 
A great educational system.There is a language barrier.

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Conclusion 

Moving to Japan from the USA as an American is bound to open so many doors for you but it is pertinent to know that it takes time to get acclimated. Nonetheless, Japan is a lovely nation and you are bound to be enthralled by the wonders of the Land of the Rising Sun when you eventually move. Good luck with your move!

Exploring more options of International Moving? Check out our International Moving Guides:

Moving To Switzerland 

Moving To Hong Kong

Moving to China

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