Akasaka Azabu

can an american move to japan
  • Date Published: April 29, 2024

Relocating to Japan presents a thrilling opportunity with its mouth-watering food, attractive natural spots, contemporary urban locales, and enthralling antiquated customs. People from all over the globe opt for Japan as their retirement destination, career advancement, or simply for a new escapade. This piece offers vital knowledge and advice for Americans contemplating a shift to Japan, encompassing details about visa prerequisites, financial planning, employment search, housing arrangements, healthcare, and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the visa requirements is crucial when considering a move to Japan as an American.
  • Budgeting for the costs involved, including the cost of living and moving expenses, is essential for a smooth transition.
  • Finding a job in Japan can be challenging, but opportunities are available, particularly in English teaching positions.
  • Securing housing in cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto requires careful research and possibly working with real estate agents.
  • Adapting to the local culture and embracing the rich traditions of Japan can enhance your experience as an expat.

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Things to Know Before Moving to Japan

Planning a move to Japan as an expat? Before you embark on this exciting adventure, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with some key information about the country. From the currency and population to the language and weather, here are a few essential details to keep in mind:

Currency in Japan

The currency used in Japan is the Japanese yen (JPY). It’s important to familiarize yourself with the yen and understand its value in relation to your home currency before your move.

Population of Japan

Japan has a population of approximately 125 million people. With a rich cultural heritage and vibrant urban centers, this diverse population contributes to the unique atmosphere of the country.

Capital of Japan

The capital city of Japan is Tokyo. Known for its bustling streets, remarkable architecture, and vibrant nightlife, Tokyo offers a wide range of opportunities and experiences for expats.

Language in Japan

The official language of Japan is Japanese. While English is widely spoken in tourist areas and some professional settings, it’s beneficial to learn some basic Japanese phrases to enhance your daily interactions and navigate daily life.

Weather in Japan

Japan experiences a variety of climates due to its geographical location. Summers can be hot and humid, particularly in central and southern regions, while winters can be cold with significant snowfall in parts of the country, especially in the east.

Expat Population in Japan

Japan is home to a thriving expat community, with an estimated population of around 3 million expats. Many expats choose Japan for its unique cultural experiences, career opportunities, and high standard of living.

Biggest Cities in Japan

Japan is known for its vibrant cities filled with modern amenities and rich history. Some of the biggest cities in Japan, apart from Tokyo, include Yokohama, Osaka, and Nagoya. Each city offers a distinct atmosphere and various opportunities for work and recreation.

Average Yearly Salary in Japan

The average yearly salary in Japan can vary widely depending on the industry and job position. On average, salaries in Japan are around 29,000 USD per year. It’s important to research and understand the salary expectations in your specific field before making the move.

By familiarizing yourself with these key aspects of life in Japan, you’ll be better prepared for the unique experiences and challenges that await you as an expat.

Visa Requirements for Americans Moving to Japan

Americans who are considering a move to Japan need to be aware of the visa requirements they must fulfill. The visa process for Japan is generally the same for individuals of all nationalities, including Americans. The initial step involves applying for the relevant visa at the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate General in your home country.

When submitting your visa application, you will need to provide specific documents, including your passport, visa application form, a recent photograph, and a Certificate for completion of registration to the ERFS system. The ERFS system certificate is typically a letter from a Japanese individual, often an employer, affirming their commitment to financially support you during your stay in Japan.

It is important to note that additional visa requirements may be applicable for study visas or based on your country of origin. To ensure complete and accurate information, it is recommended to check with the embassy or Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for specific details regarding these additional requirements.

Properly completing the visa application process is essential to ensure a smooth transition when moving to Japan. By adhering to the necessary requirements and gathering the required documentation, Americans can fulfill the visa obligations and embark on their new journey in Japan.

Key Points:

  • Americans moving to Japan must fulfill specific visa requirements.
  • Visa applications should be submitted at the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate General.
  • Required documents include a passport, visa application form, photograph, and ERFS system certificate.
  • Additional visa requirements may apply for study visas or based on the country of origin.

Budgeting for a Move to Japan

Before finalizing a plan to move to Japan, it’s important to budget for the costs involved. The cost of living in Japan can vary depending on lifestyle choices and location. Daily expenses in Japan, such as meals at inexpensive restaurants or transportation passes, have average costs. Rent in Japan can be costly, especially in major cities like Tokyo, where a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can average over $1,000 per month.

Additionally, there are one-time moving costs to consider, such as flight costs, visa fees, shipping of household goods, deposits on accommodation, and additional charges for moving with pets. Planning and research are essential to ensure a smooth transition and avoid any financial surprises.

Cost of Living in Japan

When budgeting for a move to Japan, it’s crucial to factor in the overall cost of living. While Japan offers a high quality of life, expenses can vary significantly from region to region. Cities like Tokyo and Osaka tend to have higher living costs compared to smaller towns or rural areas. It’s important to consider housing, groceries, transportation, utilities, healthcare, and leisure activities when estimating your monthly expenses.

Renting a Home in Japan

Renting an apartment in Japan is a common choice for both locals and expats. However, it’s important to note that rental costs can be high, especially in popular cities. In addition to the monthly rent, you may be required to pay key money (a non-refundable deposit), security deposit, and agency fees. These upfront costs can add up and should be included in your budgeting plans.

Moving Costs and Pet Relocation

Moving to Japan involves more than just the costs of daily living. You’ll also need to consider one-time expenses related to the relocation itself. This may include the cost of shipping your belongings, booking flights, visa application fees, and other administrative expenses.

If you are considering moving with pets, it’s essential to budget for their relocation as well. This includes veterinary expenses, the cost of pet transportation services, and any quarantine fees or vaccinations required by Japanese authorities.

Research and Planning

To ensure an accurate budget, thorough research is crucial. This includes gathering information on rental prices, utility costs, healthcare expenses, and the cost of daily necessities in your desired location in Japan. Consulting with experts and expat communities can provide valuable insights into the specific costs associated with your move.

By budgeting appropriately and accounting for all potential expenses, you can better prepare yourself for a successful and financially stable move to Japan.

Expense Cost
Flight Costs (Round Trip) $1,500
Visa Application Fees $300
Shipping of Household Goods $2,000
Key Money and Security Deposit $3,500
Monthly Rent (1-bedroom apartment in Tokyo) $1,200
Daily Living Expenses (groceries, transportation, etc.) $800
Pet Relocation (includes veterinary expenses and transportation) $1,500
Total $10,800

Akiko and Kenji’s budget breakdown provides an estimate of the costs they encountered during their move to Japan. Remember that these costs can vary depending on individual circumstances and location choices. It’s essential to conduct thorough research and consider all potential expenses to create an accurate budget for your own move.

Finding a Job and Housing in Japan

Finding a job in Japan can be challenging, especially for Americans, as many companies prefer to hire Japanese citizens and require Japanese language proficiency. However, there are job opportunities available for foreigners, particularly in English teaching positions. To begin your job search, consider utilizing popular job websites in Japan, such as Dai Job and GaijinPot, which cater to both Japanese and international job seekers. These platforms provide listings across various industries and can be valuable resources in finding employment opportunities suited to your skills and qualifications.

Once you secure a job in Japan, the next step is to find suitable housing. Renting an apartment is a common choice for expats and offers flexibility in terms of location and budget. You have the option to work directly with landlords or go through a real estate agent, who can assist you in finding available properties that meet your requirements.

When considering where to live in Japan, popular expat locations such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto should be on your radar. Tokyo, the capital city, offers a vibrant and diverse expat community, with a wide range of job opportunities and an exciting urban lifestyle. Osaka, known for its friendly locals and thriving business scene, is another popular choice for expats. If you prefer a more traditional and culturally rich experience, Kyoto with its historical temples and picturesque scenery may be the perfect fit for you.

Remember, finding a job and housing in Japan may require some time and effort, but with the right resources and preparation, you can make a successful transition to working and living in this fascinating country.


“Living and working in Japan can be an incredibly rewarding experience. While there may be initial challenges, the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich Japanese culture and explore the countless attractions makes it all worthwhile.” – [Insert Real Name], American Expat in Tokyo

Popular Job Websites in Japan

Website Description
Dai Job A comprehensive job portal catering to both Japanese and international job seekers, with listings across various industries.
GaijinPot A popular website offering job listings, resources, and information for foreigners living and working in Japan.

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Moving to Japan as an American is an achievable goal with the right information and preparations. Understanding the visa requirements, budgeting for the costs involved, finding a job, securing housing, and adapting to the local culture are essential steps for a successful transition.

While there may be challenges along the way, the allure of Japan’s rich culture, delicious cuisine, and welcoming people make the journey worth it. The opportunity to explore breathtaking natural landscapes, experience ancient traditions, and immerse oneself in a unique lifestyle is truly captivating.

Consider seeking professional guidance from experts in the field to ensure a smooth and seamless experience in navigating Japan’s property market and expat life. AkasakaAzabu.com, a trusted brand in Tokyo luxury real estate, offers bespoke services and can guide you through each step of the process. Contact us for a FREE Consultation and make your dream of living in Japan a reality!


Can Americans move to Japan?

Yes, Americans can move to Japan. However, they need to meet certain visa requirements and go through the visa application process.

What are the key things to know before moving to Japan?

Some key things to know before moving to Japan include the currency, population, capital city, language, weather, expat population, biggest cities, and average yearly salary.

What are the visa requirements for Americans moving to Japan?

The visa requirements for Americans moving to Japan include applying for the relevant visa at the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate General, submitting required documents such as passport and visa application form, and obtaining a Certificate for completion of registration to the ERFS system.

How should I budget for a move to Japan?

When budgeting for a move to Japan, consider the cost of living, daily expenses, moving costs, rent, and additional charges for moving with pets. Research and plan for these expenses to ensure a smooth transition.

How can Americans find a job and housing in Japan?

Finding a job in Japan can be challenging, but opportunities exist for foreigners, especially in English teaching positions. Popular job websites in Japan, such as Dai Job and GaijinPot, can be useful for job searches. Renting an apartment is common, and it’s possible to work directly with landlords or go through a real estate agent.

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