Important Things You Should Know Before Moving To Japan

Tokyo iconic zebra crossings – Living and working in Japan

To say that nobody enjoys moving is quite an understatement. The stress of finding a new house or apartment, packing, cleaning, and dealing with the logistics that come with uprooting your life can take a toll on anybody. This stress is amplified the further you are moving to a different city or country. Relocating overseas to a country such as Japan is especially aggravating, as you must adapt to completely new customs and assimilate into a new culture. 

Fortunately, you’re not the first person to take on such a big life change. By learning from others, you can streamline the process to make the move as efficient and simplified as possible. Don’t let the stress of moving ruin the excitement for your journey! 

Read below to learn some insider tips & advice about preparing to move to Japan.

How To Move To Japan: Legal and Employment Issues

When moving to another country, the first thing you must address is legal issues. Depending on where you are moving to and/or from, this could require jumping through several bureaucratic hoops.

However, moving to Japan is not that difficult of a process as long as it is planned out well in advance of your moving date. Running into a problem with your documentation right before departing could jeopardize your entire trip, so be sure to take care of any legal issues months beforehand. 

Japan offers short and long term visas for prospective immigrants or ex-pats. If you are planning to move or visit for less than 90 days for purposes such as recreation or visiting friends and family, you will only require a short-term visa or no visa at all.

Japan also offers long term visas for stays of greater than 90 days. They recently adopted a points system based on merit to allow the most qualified individuals faster and easier entry into the country, particularly designed with job-seekers in mind. These visas make it easier to find housing and employment. It is also a fast-track to permanent residency, should you decide to apply. It also allows your spouse to live and work in Japan even if they do not meet the requirements themselves. You must have at least 70 points to qualify, and your merit is based on education and professional experience, among other factors. 

Before applying for a visa, you must have several documents readily available. Contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General and provide them with your passport, visa application, and a photograph of yourself. You should also provide a Certificate of Eligibility from a Japanese immigration office, but this can be difficult to obtain without proper resources, advance notice, and qualifications.

The Certificate of Eligibility comes from someone who will provide you with financial support while in Japan. This sponsor is usually an employer or organization. The requirements for obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility vary across different professional fields, so be sure to research the obligations for your specific situation.

You will not be considered for employment if you do not have the proper legal documents available. 

Financial Information On Moving To Japan

After addressing the legal issues of moving to Japan, the next step of preparation is figuring out your finances and opening a new bank account. Though, you should be warned that it can be rather difficult to do this, as their bureaucracy is quite strict and very convoluted.

Luckily, there are a variety of International banks that operate in Japan, and there are also many domestic banks to choose from. It’s important to be wary of the exchange rate, though.

Japan uses the Japanese yen (JPY) as its form of currency, and exchanging foreign currencies is not a 1:1 swap. You must be sure to research which bank offers the best exchange rate or use a third party to get a mid-market rate.

Housing Accommodations Needed To Live And Work In Japan

You will also need to figure out your housing situation before moving to Japan. The best way to find housing is to do so while you’re actually in Japan as it can be difficult to find something online. Though, the option of working with a real estate agent or a relocation service isn’t out of the question.

Finding housing is not like it is in countries such as the United States, where you can browse many different properties posted on sites such as Zillow or Craigslist.

In Japan, there are not multiple postings for rental properties. This is why, whether you want to rent an apartment in Tokyo or a room for the winter season at one of Japan’s ski resorts, going through an agent or service eliminates much of the headache and many have to or prefer renting instead of buying.

Tokyo also offers share house companies for new residents while they are finding something more permanent and accommodating. 

Cultural Adjustments When Moving To Japan

To properly assimilate into Japan, it’s important to try and familiarize yourself with the Japanese culture beforehand. This is by no means an easy task, but it is helpful to start learning the language or at least common, everyday phrases.

Enrolling yourself in a Japanese language course would also be quite helpful, as you’ll need to be practicing often if you want to become fluent. Doing this will help to improve your quality of life exponentially if you are at least somewhat familiar with the language beforehand. 

Refining your palate to regional Japenese cuisine will also help prepare you for the big move.

A Japanese snack subscription box that has a wide variety of foods sourced directly from local family businesses is a great way to help with the transition before you’ve officially relocated. These snack boxes will allow you to experience local foods and drinks such as traditional mochi and tea for an affordable cost.

When going grocery shopping in Japan, it’s important to understand that Japanese grocery stores differ from grocery stores and supermarkets you might be used to in a couple of big ways. To start with, they do not carry products other than food. So for toiletries and other household items, you’ll have to seek out a different store. No one said it was going to be a walk in the park! 

Some people hate the stress, planning, and logistics of moving so much that they simply would prefer to re-up their lease or purchase a house to avoid it. However, moving to a foreign country on the other side of the world is certainly a worthwhile and fulfilling life experience. With these helpful insider tips and advice, you’re ready to start your journey to Japan! Wave your fears goodbye as you jet across the Pacific and start your exhilarating voyage!