If you want you expatriate in Japan, a question arises: which city to choose? Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yohohama…? To help you in your research and your decision, here is our mini guide devoted to the major cities of Japan. Each time, take into account these two crucial elements for the life of an expatriate family: the rent of course, but also the schooling for children, extremely important!
First, let’s clarify some things about rent in Japan, the practice of which is very different from what we know in France. In Japan, it is customary to pay the equivalent of six months rent when you rent a home. The first two months constitute the “shikikin” which is the refundable deposit at the end of the lease. The other two months represent the “reikin”, a kind of gift Free to the owner when you move in … The real estate agency receives a month’s rent called “tesuryô” or “chukai ryôkin” as a commission. Finally, you must pay the first month’s rent before you can move in.
In addition, when you rent accommodation individually or the company you work for is not well known, agencies often ask for a Japanese person or company as a guarantor.
– Rent in Tokyo is one of the most sensitive budget items for expatriates. In Tokyo, the monthly rent is around 3,000 to 4,000 yen per m² (between 20.5 and 27 euros per m²). A studio in the Nerima district rents, for example, at 71,400 yen per month on average. This rate can be up to 95,300 yen in Shinjuku and up to 127,000 yen in Minato. Although the capital is in ninth place in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world for expats, it has residential neighborhoods that are home to most of these arrivals. These include Shibuya-ku, Minato-ku, Chiyoda-ku, and Shinjuku-ku.
– Your children’s schooling in Tokyo is provided by many international schools, whatever their level. The most famous are the British School of Tokyo, the Canadian International School, the Tokyo International School and of course the Lycée Français International de Tokyo (LFIT) which offers lessons from kindergarten to the final year.
– Transport in Tokyo : living in Tokyo is relatively expensive for expatriates. For example, for a metro ride, you have to pay 160 yen or more, compared to 200 yen for a bus and 2,000 yen for a taxi fare. Despite all this, residing in Tokyo has the advantage of living in one of the largest cities in the world with different entertainment day and night. You also have the opportunity to discover the magic and splendor of the famous Imperial Palace …
Yokohama, capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, is the second most populous city in Japan with 3.7 million inhabitants. Located 40 kilometers south of the capital, in Tokyo Bay, its port is one of the most important in the archipelago. Focused on foreign trade, the city is home to the largest Chinese quarter in the country. The heart of its activity revolves around its large international port (the first in Japan) through which transit a gigantic quantity of products of all kinds.
Yokohama certainly doesn’t just serve as a large residential suburb for Tokyo workers; the city also offers its fair share of tours that will attract curious tourists, starting with the district of Minato Mirai 21. In particular, it houses an activity, leisure and shopping center over an impressive area.
Osaka is famous for its gastronomy, but also for its comic tradition. This will be the opportunity for you to fully live an extraordinary experience and to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
– Rent in Osaka : If you are planning to live in a residential area in Osaka, budget 180,000 yen for a studio, 300,000 yen for 3 rooms, and up to 800,000 yen for 5 rooms. The Ashiya and North districts are the most popular with expatriates.
– Schooling of children in Osaka : There is no French school in the city, however Osaka University is one of the most famous in Japan and in the world.
– Transport in Osaka : Regarding the cost of living, Osaka follows the trend of the capital with the price of a ticket for a single journey by public transport estimated at 219 yen. To travel 1 km by taxi in this city, plan a budget of 395 yen.
You can also settle in more or less important cities of Japan like Sapporo, located in the Hokkaido region, which offers the possibility of skiing or snowboarding in winter and exploring the beauty of nature on the island during the summer.
Kyoto tells you about 1,200 years of feudal Japanese history through its remarkably beautiful gardens and ancient temples, some of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In addition, the French International School of Kyoto is able to welcome your children from the small section to the CM2 and they will be able to follow a distance education from the 6th to the final year.
AT Nara, you can take advantage of the warm climate and nature with your family to go diving or have fun during the weekends by carrying out various seaside activities.
If you are with your family, we advise you to choose Yokohama for its cost of living, the presence of all leisure activities and means of living (schools, work opportunities, lower price than the capital), as well as its proximity to Tokyo.
Otherwise, if you are alone, Tokyo is the best place to work and live, you will have the opportunity to find plenty of work opportunities and choose a small studio that meets your needs in the heart of the capital. This city is terribly exciting and will transform you! Maybe you will meet there that will lead you to start a family… and move to Yokohama, hahahah!