Potential Relocation to Japan - Cost of Living
April 14, 2005 10:07 AM   Subscribe

My brother is considering an offer from a Japanese company in Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan (he is in Ireland). The salary seems low, and there seems little information about the location.

He will be an Aeronautical Engineering graduate in June, the post is aerodynamics design, the company is offering all relocation, accomodation, however the salary is only E21,000. I would imagine the cost of living in Japan is high - is the answer to this pretty obvious? On the flipside it is something he wants to do. Anyone know about how far 21k will go in Japan?
posted by clarkie666 to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
When you say they're offering accomodation, do you mean they are paying for the place he'll live? I don't know much about Japan but I do know that here, easily 40% of my income goes to my housing. More if you're talking utilities and what not also. When I was just out of college, making about 45K (usd) easily 50% or more of my salary went to housing. Something to think about.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:32 AM on April 14, 2005

Starting salaries are traditionally low for graduates at Japanese companies. You're also converting back into the Euro, which is unusually high at the moment. E21,000 is Y3,000,000, which is not that much for a professional but it's certainly enough to live on comfortably if accomodation is provided. Most English teachers earn that. How much would he earn in Europe?

Fuji City is an industrial city with probably not much to recommend it. It's 80 mins from Tokyo on the Shinkansen.
posted by dydecker at 10:33 AM on April 14, 2005

Also check out the bonus situation. I've heard of situations where people got 6 months salary as a bonus every 6 months but I don't know how common this is.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2005

The salary does seem low, but if they are covering housing (they'll also cover train fare, may have a cafeteria, and he could sign up for socialized medicine there), he can bank a lot of it.

The real value would be from putting himself into a very different environment (assuming he has no background with Japan) and getting something extra out of it that way. If he's interested in that, it's not a bad deal (but not great). If he's not interested in the cultural side, he'll hate it.

On preview: I could be wrong, but I'd be surprised if he got more than a bonus of 1 mo salary after 1 year.

The other thing I suppose he should consider is that the company is probably making this offer on the assumption that he won't want to stick around forever, so he will probably be employed on a "shokutaku" basis (meaning, essentially, second-class citizen in the company). An ex-girlfriend of mine literally wrote the book on employment problems faced by westerners in Japanese firms.
posted by adamrice at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2005

Fuji City
posted by dydecker at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2005

I spent an afternoon in Fuji City two years ago. A friend and I wanted to ride a bullet train AND get close to Mt Fuji, so the information counter at Tokyo Station suggested we go to Fuji City. It was a neat ride, and the city was indeed industrial, but pleasant and very calm. There were large plants of some sort, a large 4-lane road through the middle of town, and quite a nice view of Mt Fuji. Some kids were skateboarding in a big park, listening to music, keeping to themselves. Some girls giggled and took our picture on a bridge with Fuji in the background. It was a good place to relax the day after an 11-hour o-hanami party. I could handle living there for sure, especially with Tokyo so close for the weekends. I have a few pictures if you'd like to see them (my email's in my profile).
posted by dmo at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2005

The situation might well be similar to mine. I work at one of the biggest companies in Korea. Although the dollar value of my salary is quite small, my tax rate is low, my accommodation is paid for, and there are various side benefits which reduce my monthly outlay a lot. Living extremely frugally, which is my habit (or, more accurately, my wife's), I am able to bank 60% of my salary, if I consider that money untouchable, while being quite comfortable. The dollar value of those savings, while not all that impressive, is still comparable to what I saved on a monthly basis with three times the income in Australia.

Although I am a teacher/corporate trainer, I know a German engineer who also works here who is in a similar situation.

For that it's worth, if things look reasonable, I'd heartily recommend your brother give it a shot, for the experience at least, after verifying the details of the total compensation package. Although the cost of living is certainly higher in Japan than it is in Korea, with free housing I reckon he'd be able to live quite comfortably.

Cultural issues, as others have suggested... well, some deal better with those than others. It can be a shock at first.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:35 PM on April 14, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks a million everyone for the responses - I also talked to our in-house Japanese translator, she also thinks that E21 is more than it seems. The shokutaku information is interesting though.

He also learned today that the bonus situation is quite good (+40%) - so right on the nose FF Pete!

Thanks again!!!!
posted by clarkie666 at 9:15 PM on April 14, 2005

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