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Moving from USA to Japan- Start a New Life with A Great Move

Monday, March 27, 2023
A Japanese geisha walking down a street in Japan under an umbrella while it rains

Culture is a big draw for many people in the West. And, Japan is known for having a different culture, lifestyle, even types of food from what the Western world is used to. Therefore, it is not out of the ordinary for people to want to move from the USA to Japan. But, how do you move to Japan? Well, let’s get into it.

Why Move to Japan?

A japanese woman in metro station standing in front of a fast moving train while she waits for her train

The Land of the Rising Sun is quite different from the Western world and that is its main appeal to American citizens wanting to make the move to Japan. Japan offers adventure, different cultures with a high-tech look, a new language and even a different way of reading comic books (manga).  

Plus, Japan offers a high salary as well as a high quality of life. But, this also means that the cost of living is also on the high side since Japan has been cited as being one of the most expensive countries to live in. However, Japan does have outstanding healthcare, delicious and nutritious food as well as high-performing schools for your children to attend.  

It also has many career opportunities as well as ways of living. Japan attracts certain Westerners with a certain mindset for exploring, and living in a different world from their own. Just some of the reasons people move to Japan.

How to move to Japan from the US- The Visas

Woman sitting in front of her laptop biting the middle of her pencil nervously as she researches how to move to Japan

Japan is all about working, and you would have to get a job in Japan in order to get a visa. You can do this by applying for a Japanese company, and getting a job with them. The company will start the process of visa application for you. 

The first step on how to move to Japan from the USA will be for the company to issue you a Certificate of Eligibility. This is one of the most important papers that you need to get. To put it shortly: A Certificate of Eligibility means that you have a company in Japan that is willing to support you financially (have a job). 

There are many other types of Japanese visas to help you move to Japan. But, you have to have a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for them. There are long-term stay working visas for the following:

  • Artists (craftspeople, composers, songwriters, sculptors, photographers, etc.)
  • Engineers (IT, scientific, civil, etc.)
  • Entertainers (performers, actors, musicians, singers, dancers, and even sportspeople, etc.)
  • Highly skilled foreign professional visa
  • Investor/business manager (officers, company presidents, etc.)
  • Instructor (teachers at either elementary schools or intermediate schools and high schools)
  • Journalists (including news cameraman)
  • Legal/accounting services (as long as you are certified in Japan so attorneys, public accountants, tax accountants, etc.)
  • Medical services (also if you are certified in Japan such as physicians, dentists, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, etc.)
  • Professor (including assistants) 
  • Researcher (and investigators)
  • Religious activities
  • Skilled labor (such as chefs who specialize in the food of a foreign country, pilots, animal trainers, sports trainers, etc.)
  • Specialist in humanities/International Services (foreign language teachers (this is a popular one), copywriters, interpreters, designers, etc.)

There are also General Visas such as ones for Cultural Activities. This covers unpaid interns or people studying the culture of Japan such as flower arrangements, or even tea ceremonies. Furthermore, there are also visas for college students or a visa for training. The latter is for people to be trainees in the local government of Japan. Plus, there are also Family stays visas for children or a spouse to stay for a long term.  

And, there are more specified visas such as being a spouse or a child of a Japanese citizen. There is also a visa for the spouse or child of a permanent resident as well as another type of visa for long-term residents. The latter one is if you have Japanese ancestry or Indochinese refugee settlers.  

There is a lot more information about visas for Japan here. However, it is important that you do your research when applying for a visa before moving to Japan. You would need your passport to be updated, as well as One visa application form and a photograph. And, the Certificate of Eligibility.  Furthermore, as a US citizen, you cannot apply for the Working Holiday Visa, just to give you a head’s up.  

However, you can apply for a Japan Tourist Visa which allows you to go sightseeing as well as attend conferences. This visa is valid for 90 days and you may apply for a double-entry visa for 2 short trips (30 days each) within 6 months. However, you cannot do paid work while using this visa.

Stress-free Long Distance Moves

Job Opportunities in Japan

Skilled japanese chef making ramen in a kitchen of a restaurant in Japan

While there are visas such as the spouse ones or the student ones, the majority of the other types require you to get a job. And, since you, as an American citizen, cannot apply for a Working Holiday Visa you would have to apply for jobs online since you cannot literally get into the country to search around for one. You can try to use the tourist visa as a way to job hunt while in Japan. But, be prepared to pay a lot in terms of accommodation.  

If you are moving there for student purposes or spouse ones, a job would not hurt either. For the former, you will finish your studies and the latter is to help out your family with the high quality of life that Japan has to offer you. So, best to get cracking on finding that job with a legitimate Japanese company and then move to Japan. 

Accommodation in Japan

 A man sitting by a huge window, looking out into the city skyline of Tokyo

When looking for accommodation while moving to Japan you would be advised to consider a limited amount of space. This is because there are about 126,476,461 people living in the country as of 2020. Furthermore, Japan is a small island country of about 377,975 km². Therefore, it is not surprising that a lot of the accommodations are apartments. The national average for rent is said to be around 50 to 70 000 JPY ($470 to 650) monthly and this does not include the utilities. However, the average salary is about $29 000 annually.  

Apartments are the main source of housing, and there are high-rise and modern ones to smaller ones. Furthermore, there are houses such as detached, Japanese-style ones (for us Westerns) that have woven tatami mat flooring as well. Plus, you can also find Western-style houses that are in the countryside outside of the large cities.  

If you wish to buy a home in Japan you have to be prepared to pay with the average house price being around 35, 760, 000 JPY ($337 000). However, there are no legal restrictions for a foreigner or expat to own a home in Japan. Therefore, you do not have to be a citizen.  

However, owning property does not necessarily mean that you will have a guarantee straight-line to permanent residence. Plus, it is a difficult process for foreigners without citizenship or permanent residency or being married to a Japanese citizen to own a home. Thereby, maybe renting after moving to Japan would be a better option in the beginning until you become a citizen of the country.

Healthcare System and Health Insurance in Japan

People hanging around outdoors in the early evening on the square in Japan some are looking at their phones

As we have mentioned Japan has top healthcare being one of the best of the best. This could be adding to the highest life expectancy rate in the country due to the strong emphasis on preventative care. With that being said, foreigners can easily take part in the healthcare system. How it works is that once you have your residency card, which is an ID for foreign residents in Japan, you can sign up for two of the main health insurance schemes that Japan has for its people.  

The first one is the Japanese National Health Insurance which is for students, part-time and unemployed people can apply for. The second is known as the standard Japanese Health Insurance for full-time employees.

Schools for Kids in Japan

A little japanese girl looking towards the camera while holding hands with a robot the size of her

To give a bit of background to the schooling system in Japan, children from the age of 6 years old start school. Their schooling lasts for 9 years and it is compulsory. The terms start from April of one year to March of the following year. Furthermore, the typical timetable is from 8:15 am to 3:15 pm for most of the schools.  

Plus, there are also international schools in the big cities where a different type of curriculum is offered as well as the exams. Therefore, you can keep your kids in the US school system while living in Japan. However, after moving to Japan it is strongly recommended that you and your whole family learn Japanese if not just to get by and read the public transportation signs.

How Shyft Helps with Your Move

A woman posing with her beetle car on the beach with luggage on the roof ready for an adventure

Once you figure out all the details of your move, you can get help making the move come to life. Shyft is the world's first tech-driven moving platform that organizes your move for you. You just have to get in touch with us by hopping to our Shyft Moving website where there is a short form waiting for your moving details.  

Then you should download the free app known as ShyftNext where your Move Coach will contact you at the time that you are free. It is a video chat where your Move Coach gets to know more about your move as well as create your inventory list through the app. It is 95% accurate. However, this list will be sent to you for confirmation and changes within half an hour from the end of this first call. When we get the list back we will take it, along with all your moving details to our secure bidding platform.  

It is here where verified, and experienced moving companies can bid on your project. We then gather three or more moving quotes to send your way. Along with all the details of the mover, as well as what else they offer you. What is more, is that all the quotes are fixed, meaning that there are no hidden costs to sneak up on you.

People that have used our services in the past were able to save up to $600 on their move. And, we also have a respectful marketplace known as Home and Lifestyle on our site. It is here that you can buy furniture that will be delivered directly to your new home. And, there are also services that you can use in the marketplace. 

The best part is that everything on the marketplace comes with a discount, helping you to save even more money. Plus, there will be new items and services added to the Home and Lifestyle tab.  

Furthermore, if you have any questions, you can reach out to us 24/7 since we are on call for you. This includes the evening as well as the weekends when you have more free time to make a call. Shyft is here to help you move to your dream home, so get in touch with us so that we can get started with your moving process.

 A happy japanese vendor waving at customers after leaving his stand with food and drinks