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Moving from Hong Kong to Japan decision

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  1. #31

    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Quote Original Post:
    Thanks all for the information.
    We are Aussies. The company is not the traditional Japanese style they say
    and a lot of foreigners are employed specially from the US.
    They do not require employees to learn Japanese but you will get better compensation if you do.
    Also working hours is 8 hours only(9-6pm) and most people don't go beyond that despite the company providing free dinner starting 7PM everyday.
    Location is Tokyo.

    I also got some feedback from friends there about discrimination specially outside Tokyo,
    some communities do not accept foreigners as their neighbors.

    Also got the same comment about the locals, they are a lot more uptight and kind of robotic in nature compared to HK locals.
    They also do not socialise with foreigners and like more to live in isolation.
    Also they say if my wife will not work and just stay at home, she will die of boredom because of very limited interaction with other people

    Hello there,

    I am a HK local who has spent considerable time living overseas, including 5 years in Tokyo. My 2 cents:

    1) Japan quality of life are magnitudes about HK's, especially if you care about outdoors, variety of activities, open space, and access to different festivities over the 4 seasons. I'm not talking about your usual superficial comments about cleanliness / politeness etc etc, but rather the range of activities (skiing / hiking / swimming / beach / onsen / BBQ / fishing) that you can do on a normal weekend vs HK.

    2) Driving is much easier in Tokyo than HK - though the speed limits are ridiculously low and the traffic fines (even for missed parking times) are *harsh*. Driving in Japan is considered a privilege, not a right. With that said, there are great places you can visit outside Tokyo with a car (just don't do it over a long weekend).

    3) International schools in HK are tougher / more expensive to get into, but have higher "pedigree" (say for getting into Ivy Leagues etc) than those in Tokyo; however, the quality of school environment / space etc are much better in Japan.

    4) I'm going to be a little un-PC here, but the "foreigner"(gaijin) premium is much higher in Japan than HK. Don't worry so much about the locals shying away from you, you are going to live in Tokyo with an Aussie company - you will be more than fine and actually will get away with much more than a local would. They are incredibly friendly to foreigners, and I can attest to that with my time living there.

    5) Foreign groceries and what not will be more expensive, that's for sure.

    6) Rent will be a few levels lower than HK for a much higher quality place. That alone is a major difference maker for 90% of your other daily expenses that you might pay higher for in Tokyo.

    7) The food is absolutely spectacular, across almost all cuisines (ironically, except Chinese in my mind). I've lived in many metropolitan cities but nothing comes close to Tokyo, in terms of median standards.

    8) If you are living in Tokyo, the part about your wife dying in boredom is absolute BS. There is a MASSIVE foreigner community in Tokyo and there is so much to do. Go get a membership at the American Club in Tokyo and she'll make more friends in a month than she would know what to do with. Tonnes of families just hang out there for the whole day as the facilities are so nice across the board and it's right in the center of the city.

    9) I have many UK friends who refuse to be sent back home from their expat positions in Tokyo. They simply refuse to give up their quality of life in Tokyo.

    10) Go learn a bit of Japanese, a few lines of conversation will return your effort in spades in terms of your enjoyment in the country.

    Good luck with whatever decision you go with!

  2. #32

    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    late to the game but to add:

    One important thing to note about working in Japan is visa. Your visa is not tied to your job so even if you quit you can move around jobs or start your own company. This visa situation is the opposite of America.

    Rent is proportional to location but in general train in Tokyo is excellent so you can live in outside Tokyo like Saitama or Kanagawa and still be in downtown Tokyo in 20-30 mins.

    I'd say the minimum salary to live comfortably in Tokyo with a wife and kid is 300k yen / month. You can see there are students who live with families with only 200k yen / month and still afford to go home to their countries once a while.

    If you can read Kanji, you will have easier time adjusting. At least you can read all the documents and instructions even without being able to speak. My coworkers are Taiwanese who don't speak Japanese anyway.

    You will have to pay into tax, health insurance, and pensions which are calculated from tax. If you want to reduce the tax then you should start at least an own business like sole-proprietorship.Yes you can do it even while employed at another company. With a business you can turn some of your bills into expenses. Some people start consultancy or private english teaching for this purpose. Of course you will need to take care of your own accounting.

    Work culture really depends on what you do and on companies. If you are software engineer you can even work remotely. If you are in the management / accounting kind of work then it will be typical office hours. If you work in big old Japanese companies then you will probably do a lot of overtime.

    You may have some difficulty renting an apartment. Landlords can and usually put impossible conditions to foreigners (like having a Japanese relative as guarantor), essentially soft-banning them. So we can't be too picky with apartment. Also the government has recognized the problem. But what they do is run their own rent agency called UR Housing. Apartments listed here are available for foreigners without crazy conditions as long as they have income (or something around $50k savings)

    AsianXpat0 likes this.

  3. #33

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Have been reading with interest. Does anyone know if it’s possible to bring our Filipina helper with us if we move to Tokyo? Both of us will be working (me - teacher, husband - finance but not accountancy), 2 children under 10.

  4. #34

    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Sponsering a foreign helper isn't common - Japanese are not allowed to do so, and only foreigners on specific visa types can do so. Those include diplomatic, business manager and highly skilled professional visa's. There may be more, but these just the three I'm personally aware of. The minimum salary for the helper needs to be 200,000 yen a month.

    If you or your husband can qualify for the highly skilled professional visa it is quite straightforward to sponsor.

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