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Valuable Information on Getting Started Living in Japan

As the number of non-Japanese people studying Japanese around the world increases, so does the number of people who want to live in Japan for work or study. After all, they say that one of the best ways to learn a language is to be completely immersed in it, right?

Moving to a country as foreign as Japan, however, can pose many challenges. When coming to Japan for work or study, there are many things one must consider: What do I need to do soon after I arrive? Where will I live? How do I get around? Here at JapanesePod101.com, we have used information obtained from staff and listeners alike and put together a mini-guide for getting started living in Japan. We will introduce it in three parts in this blog. Part one here covers valuable information on foreign registration and tips on finding a place to live.

If you have any questions or information that you would like to share about living in Japan, please leave us a comment!

Valuable Information on Living in Japan part 1

     Alien Registration (外国人登録)

Foreigners staying in Japan for more than 90 days (which excludes those with tourist visas) need to apply for an alien registration card (外国人登録証, gaikokujin tōrokushō) within 90 days of landing in Japan. Applicants must apply at their local municipal office (city hall). The alien registration card is required for opening a bank account, purchasing a cell phone, obtaining a driver’s license, and more. Foreign residents are required to carry their alien registration card with them at all times. 

Finding a Place to Live

When it comes to finding a place to live in Japan, there are two major options: a private apartment or a guesthouse.

Looking for an apartment using conventional real estate companies may prove to be difficult and expensive. It can sometimes be difficult finding a landlord who is willing to rent out to foreigners, and there are a number of fees that make up the rental contract. In Tokyo and other large cities, there are many real estate companies that cater specifically to the foreign community that may be worth looking into. When looking for an apartment, please be aware that utilities are often not included in the rent. After moving into your apartment, the start-up application forms for utilities can often be found in your mailbox or apartment. In come cases, they may be provided by your landlord or real estate agent, who may also set up the utilities for you. As for paying utilities, there are two major options: you can either pay your bills at the convenience store or post office as they come, or you can sign up to have the payments automatically deducted from your bank account every month.
Note also that for most apartments, a guarantor (連帯保証人, rentai hoshōnin) is required. Normally a guarantor is someone who is a Japanese national with good financial standing, or the company you are employed at. If you do not have someone who can act as a guarantor for you, there is the option of paying a guarantor company (保証会社, hoshō gaisha) a fee to have them act as a guarantor for you.
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An alternative to a private apartment is a guesthouse. Based on the living conditions (whether you share an apartment or room with other people, etc.), living in a guesthouse can be an inexpensive alternative to living in a conventional apartment. Many guesthouses also offer shorter contracts, which makes them ideal for shorter stays.

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Join us next week for more valuable information on getting started living in Japan!