Moving to Tokyo | How to relocate to Tokyo
Things to know about living in Tokyo
Japanese Yen (JPY)
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Visa requirements | Immigrating to Tokyo
f you wish to relocate to Tokyo long-term, you will need to apply for the right visa. There are three different visas for which you can apply to immigrate to Tokyo, Japan:
- For skilled workers: Qualifications in areas such as engineering, business or research will allow you to apply for a work visa for Japan, based on a point system. You need 70 points to qualify for this visa.
- Immigration visas: Including diplomatic visas, student visas and family reunification are more difficult to obtain, but in recent times the visa requirements for immigration visas have been eased, thanks to Japan’s ageing population and shortage of skills.
- Tourist visas: Japan has a visa waiver program which allows citizens of 70 countries to visit Japan for up to 90 days without a visa and renew this for an additional 90 days. For all other countries exempt from the visa waiver program, you must apply for a short stay visa.
If you need any more information about visa regulations before moving to Japan, visit the Japanese immigration website.
Should I buy or rent an apartment in Tokyo?
You will no doubt be looking to rent or buy an apartment in Tokyo, rather than a house, thanks to the limited space. Most expats choose to rent an apartment when they first arrive in Tokyo. It is important to know that they usually come already furnished with Japanese furniture which might include a kotatsu (a low table for sitting on the floor). A one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Tokyo will cost around 1000€ per month. Connecting with other expats in Tokyo and sharing your space can be great option to save on the cost to rent an apartment and utilities. However, due to lack of space in most apartments this is not always possible.
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LIVING IN TOKYO
Living expenses in Tokyo
Compared to other capital cities in Asia, the average cost of living in Tokyo is much higher. An interesting way to save on your day-to-day living expenses in Tokyo include dining out at Tokyo’s famous vending machine restaurants which offer a decent meal for only 3€. If you prefer a nicer, restaurant meal, for two in a mid-range restaurant, it will cost around 40€, while a cappuccino in a café will cost around 3€.
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How do foreigners find employment in Tokyo?
Due to the ageing population in Japan, employment opportunities in Tokyo have improved in recent times and as a result there are more jobs, even for English-speakers, in Tokyo. Areas which are currently experiencing a skills shortage include medical engineering, marketing, design, logistics and the service industries. To give yourself an advantage when looking for employment in Tokyo, try to brush up on your Japanese.
Are there schools for expat children in Tokyo?
Due to the language barrier, most expats who relocate with children choose to send them to one of the many international schools for expat children around Tokyo. International schools offer an English-based curriculum, and can also gradually introduce students to the Japanese language.
The school system in Japan consists of:
Healthcare in Tokyo for expats
Once you relocate to Tokyo and have been living there for around a year, you can join the national healthcare plan which offers access to public healthcare in Tokyo for expats and its citizens. Not all treatments are covered, so you might wish to take out additional cover. When you first arrive, you will need to organise private healthcare to cover you in the meantime. Bear in mind that the language barrier might be an issue. To find an English-speaking doctor, contact your nearest embassy covered by public care, for example, pregnancy care and vaccinations may not be included in your plan, so be sure to check this carefully.
Can I drive in Tokyo with my foreign license?
An international driving permit (IDP) will allow you to drive in Tokyo with your foreign license for up to one year. After this time, you will need to switch your license to a Japanese one. If you are moving to Tokyo from the UK, Australia, Canada or parts of the USA, no additional driving test is required and you can simply switch over your foreign license and continue to drive in Tokyo. The full list of exempt countries can be found here.
It might take you some time to adjust to the traffic conditions and Japanese driving style, especially in Tokyo. In particular, pay close attention to the different road signs and try to learn basic Japanese to avoid getting confused.
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