Working in Japan as an ALT with a girlfriend
January 10, 2013 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Hi people with ALT experience, finding work in Japan sure is tough. Finding work with your girlfriend? Much harder. Where should a pair of people go to teach English in Japan? We are spending our time trying to get anywhere we can (We hear being near a city increases our happiness), however, we have been rooting for a position in Nagoya, Kanagawa as a close second. We keep hitting dead ends and are getting desperate. It looks like at this rate, we are going to save up $2,000 a piece and take a plane there in mid-april, 3 months from now, hopefully finding work in the 90 days we are legally allowed there.

I'm wondering if I can work as a prep cook while she teaches ESL, that would make me happy, albeit, a bit short of a visa. This is of course, aside from the trouble of finding work that is not ESL.

The people of Metafilter have helped so much in the past, acting as thoughtful guides to some of my difficult questions, I thank you guys again in advance for the amazing few that shine through and give us some concrete information that will help us to get this dream off the ground. One too many unanswered emails and failed interviews (with ending locations uncertain) has taken it's toll. We have tapped out our job hunting resources and are bewildered, help.

I am well aware of Gajinpot, Ohayo sensei and Dave's ESL Cafe. I've emailed many schools personally to try and find work. Mind you, this is just for one person. Recently, my girlfriend and I have begun combining our efforts to and our emails, making it clear that we are looking to live together even if we have to travel in opposite directions for over an hour. We are getting the same results.

The past month and a half has been the early part of the hiring process, where are these jobs?!

I have been working on my Japanese and understand Hiragana now much faster, I've also switched over to grammer and common phrases with a great degree of understanding. My girlfriend is at a much higher level then me and has been helping me.
posted by Nighthawk3729 to Travel & Transportation around Japan (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Did you try Interac?

Do you qualify for a working holiday visa (note: Americans do not)? If so, flying to Japan might just turn into an expensive vacation. Working under the table while you are on a tourist visa is not a plan, either.

I think it's a positive sign that you are getting interviews (even if you fail them). Keep trying.

Also, it's hiring season at eikaiwa's right now. Staffing has to be complete by the end of March, because the new school year starts on April 1st.

Don't give up, keep sending emails, keep phoning - there are hundreds of small schools in Kanto or Nagoya to choose from. Phoning every single eikaiwa school in Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui was how I got my first full-time continuing gig in Japan (but I was on a working holiday, and this was '94).

But save your $2000 X 2 until you line up a solid job prospect.

Once again, try James English, in Tohoku.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:45 PM on January 10, 2013

Nagoya probably has ALT jobs, but they're divided among a handfull of ALT dispatch companies. Nagoya dropped the JET program a while back for all the public schools in the city, so a number of dispatch companies have taken over.

My dispatch company is headquartered in Nagoya and has a lot of schools there - Altia Central. Interac is the biggest national dispatch and should have some schools. I interviewed at another Nagoya based dispatch - W5 Staffing.

I also briefly worked at an Eikaiwa in Nagoya that expanded to dispatching when JET was dropped there (not sure if they still dispatch though). There are undoubtedly other smaller dispatches around the city, but they should be posting on Ohayo Sensei, Gaijinpot, etc.

Contact any of these dispatches directly asap. My dispatch is just this week collecting the surveys from the current ALTs about whether they will continue next year, so they are not yet posting many vacancies or filling the gaps. Getting in touch before they post the positions should give you a leg up.
posted by p3t3 at 6:34 PM on January 10, 2013

Do you know anyone who's currently over there, esp. anyone teaching as an ALT? A lot of schools hire independently rather than going via JET etc., and it may be possible for you to get hired if you hear about somebody else who's leaving (though this might not allow you both to get hired). A friend of mine managed to get hired this way, I think because the school principal wanted to avoid the bother of a long search.

Additionally, do you have any TEFL qualifications? If you do, try contacting the place where you got it - at my CELTA course, there were always advertisements for ESL teachers to teach in various countries, incl. Japan.
posted by littlegreen at 6:45 PM on January 10, 2013

Here is the answer to "where are these jobs?!": The ESL/eikaiwa market in Japan has been hemorrhaging jobs for years. The best example of this is when Nova and Geos collapsed a few years apart a while back. And as p3t3 alluded, JET has been shrinking, too. (I was a JET ALT many moons ago) The result is that there are more people in Japan right now who want English-teaching jobs than there are teaching jobs to go around. So, you are at a disadvantage because there is not much incentive for anyone to hire you from abroad and sponsor your visa when there are already more experienced candidates in country. By the way, you will need a bachelor's degree if you want to work in eikaiwa/ESL. I think JET is still the best gig going, and after your term is up, you can see about transferring over to another employer.

You are American, so you will not be able to work on your 90-day landing permit. You won't (and shouldn't) work under the table. If by chance you did and got caught, you are essentially guaranteeing yourself a permanent vacation away from Japan. Also, I think your options for that sort of work are pretty limited, anyway. If you are still working on hiragana, working as a prep cook is not very realistic. A Japanese kitchen is no less busy, loud, and hurried than the kitchens in America. And frankly, there is no reason for a Japanese restaurant to hire you over a local for the minimum wage job that pays a whopping 700-and-change yen per hour.

I do not recommend the trip to Japan in hopes of pounding the pavement to find work. Beyond the airfare, you are also going to have to worry about all of your living expenses, and $2,000 per is not going to cut it. That might pay for your round-trip airfare. But, then you'll need to find and pay for lodging and the like. Your 90-day trip could easily cost $10,000 between two people. Do you have that saved up? Are you willing to save that up and then spend it on a rather large gamble? I think going to Japan without a job lined up is a bad and expensive idea.

I am confused as to why you posted this question. It is essentially the same as this one that you asked a few months ago. If you are determined to persist in this, I recommend that you both apply for jobs independently without mentioning to the prospective employer, "do you have a job for my boyfriend/girlfriend, too?" That is a complication that is not attractive to any employer - they don't want a package deal. My suggestion doubles your odds of one of you finding a job. Then, the other one of you can tag along and try to find work in that 90-day period. Of course, if the other one doesn't find work in 90 days, then what? Does one leave or do you both leave?

Frankly, the boyfriend/girlfriend element is what makes your task nigh impossible. "Boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are not legal statuses that Japan recognizes, so you have taken the regular immigration issues and compounded them substantially. For your plan to work, you and your girlfriend have to find jobs in roughly the same area at the same time. That is very unlikely to happen.

That said, I have a friend who runs a Japanese-language school in a suburb of Nagoya. I will forward this thread to him and see if he has any suggestions or contacts.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:15 PM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Is there any reason why you are so fixated on working in Japan? Like Tanizaki said, Japan isn't really the place to be for teaching English right now.

You may want to consider other Asian countries. From your previous questions, you mentioned that you want to do a bit of traveling too. If that's the case, why don't you look at English teaching jobs in other places such as Thailand and Vietnam also? Judging by how quickly my friends have been able to get interviews and then job offers from teaching English in Korea, you may also want to give that a shot.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:36 PM on January 10, 2013

Have you tried ECC or GEOS? Also, if you go before getting a job, check out wwoof Japan... It will at least keep your expenses down. I worked for ECC in Nagoya for a year, but about five years ago, and it seems like it's gotten quite a bit more competitive since then... When I was there it was pretty easy to pick up casual work, which wouldn't provide a visa, but would provide cash flow. There have been a couple work in Japan threads in the last few months. I do know people who set up their own gigs at smaller independent schools, but again, several years ago. Feel free to meMail me...
posted by jrobin276 at 9:37 PM on January 10, 2013

Sorry... Looks like GEOS went under...Tanizaki has good info, btw.
posted by jrobin276 at 9:40 PM on January 10, 2013

Right now, clearing house placement companies like interac, altia, W5s, and the like are pretty much the only ones hiring, and they're looking for bodies. Convenient bodies. Here's the thing: most schools that give a damn about teaching English either have hired, or are already in the process of hiring the teachers they will have at their school next year. Schools that haven't (strictly speaking, K-12 schools), don't really care who or what they get. They won't really expect you to do anything, or be any real part of the school. The companies hiring for them? They have a contract, they need to fill the contract. The contract and the money they get for it is more important to them than the person who fills it.

Finally, the pay? It sucks. You'd be lucky to make 220,000 yen a month.

Maybe, just maybe, in Eikaiwa, you might be able to find a company that's hiring. You might not find a good one, in fact, you probably won't. What's been said upthread about trying to get hired as a couple is right. I don't mean to cast any aspersions, but a *lot* of couples who come here together don't last. What company would want to hire two people who, going by the numbers, might well be unable to work together, or heaven forbid, need to be moved into new housing?

As for kitchen work? It's not going to happen. Any job you'd apply for (illegally) is probably already employing someone (also illegal) with better language skills than yours, and willing to work for less money. Getting caught violating a visa by working illegally can be a fine of thousands of dollars and a ten year ban from the country.

Sorry for all of the negativity. For a positive bit: look for smaller, regional eikawa. Check the company's website, and find out where they have schools. Just as an example, American Language School (ALS) is mostly a Chiba-based language school, with classrooms all around northern Chiba and western Tokyo. I have no idea if they are hiring, but if you can find a smaller school that's hiring, or even a couple different regional schools, you might be able to find work in the same area. Applying to the giant schools is a way to get a foot in the door/visa sponsorship, but it'll be entirely up to the company where you get placed. Telling them that you are a couple is, again, likely to be a drag on your application. There are guaranteed to be other people applying who aren't asking for any special treatment.

Please be aware you're looking to start working in a depressed economy with salaries that keep dropping, in a job market that's absolutely flooded with workers of all levels of experience and skill.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:11 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

After some research, we wanted to stay away from Ekaiwas, preferring to become immersed in the culture at a public school, I.E. ALT work. We also figured out that Tokyo and the Chiba distract would not be as bad as we thought, what with the large amount of work. Nagoya however, would be much higher on the list.

Yes, we have tried Interac and James English. In fact, we checked it out immediately a few months ago and sent in our information separably, neither of us have heard back. We have also attempted to find work in the Nagoya and Siatama have been much higher on our lists since it was suggested to us.

There are many jobs that are only open if we are currently in the country, as many as 2/3 of the job listings on Gajinpot and Ohayo sensei. We believe we will increase our odds greatly by going there and applying, moving is not a problem.

Thanks for the W5 staffing suggestion, have not heard of them.

How would we contact the dispatchers directly?

We have been tried applying to several dispatch centers, recently however, we have been attempting to contact individual listings. This is because of the pay hit we would take. Not only that, but we have exhausted the dispatch companies.

On top of that, we have come across some stipulations in several of the dispatchers however that state in their contracts a non-compete clause, making it illegal for us to work for another ESL company for three years. Did I read that incorrectly?

We do not have certification, we have talked to several people who have taught in Japan and they said it is not unnecessary. I wonder if we can still look up work that way.

We have both applied to JET and are still waiting for the results, yes we have Bachelors.

I have brought the idea up of applying in other countries. My girlfriend is very excited at going to Japan, it has been a goal of hers since she was little. From what I understand also, Korea is doing no favors for female ESL teachers, making it less appealing.

We have been applying separately with the same results, we figure applying near a big city will give us the chance to work within a few hours of each other, of course, preferably less.

We know that it is difficult, but we have heard of success. One of the strangest that we heard was of a junkie who moved to Japan, wanted to restart his life. "Did he have a degree?" "No". "Did he have a visa?" "No". This broke the camels back, if a junkie could have done it in the past 4 years, we sure as hell can. To our knowledge, he is fine and teaching in Japan. Impossible.

Thanks for the wwoof'ing suggestion, can't believe I forgot that one. We will also check out ECC.

My thread from a few months ago was an attempt to generate ideas for things other then ESL work, which it did. Now, we are focusing on ESL in this thread, combining our research in the past month and a half with several of the suggestions from that thread.
posted by Nighthawk3729 at 12:14 AM on January 11, 2013

How's it going Ghi? Good to see you and Roku again.

2,000 between a person sounds like it would work out for us.

On a plus note, we have actually found a handful of jobs looking for couples, albeit, most likely married couples, and we have no problem making that happen.

Indeed, there is much negativity, not sure why we seem to be drawing so much ire, we are only trying to come to Japan, become immersed in the culture and not die of starvation. Concrete facts are fine, the fining information and the number of ban years is good to know. The positive bit was a nice bit of honey that finally came after all the axes :). How would we find a solid list of regional schools, is there a listing somewhere we can look through and start contacting?

I will be bringing up the possibility of working in Vietnam and Thailand again to my girlfriend. The chance to travel to and live in Japan is a FAR more tempting prospect however, worth the risk of wwoofing it over there and having to come back as a worst case scenario. My girlfriend has a friend who began exclusive Japanese Pokemon to American consumers. Not only did he never have a problem with the company, he eventually had so many orders he had to set up his own website. He is not rich, but able to make a living off in this niche.

From copywriting and localization work to psychological and drug testing (much higher in Japan then we thought) we have found more potential income resource over the past few months.
posted by Nighthawk3729 at 12:38 AM on January 11, 2013

"Korea is doing no favors for female ESL teachers"

Wut? Most hagwon in Korea prefer to hire females -- they say so explicitly. (The mothers tend to prefer female foreigners for their kids.) Plenty of them also hire couples, so you'd even get a real one-bedroom apartment as opposed to the dreaded studio.

Teaching hagwon or public school here is hardly a bed of roses, but it's a cakewalk compared to Japan in terms of finding good work that pays reasonably well. Quite frankly, the word in the Asian ESL community is simply that Japanese people in general just can't be bothered to learn English any longer, while countries like Korea and China are still growing with regards to this demand.

"drawing so much ire"

I think that's unfair. You've suggested some pretty shady and or nigh-impossible things such as working without a proper visa (illegal) or getting a job in a kitchen as someone who doesn't speak the language (illlegal and impossible).

"From copywriting and localization work to psychological and drug testing (much higher in Japan then we thought) we have found more potential income resource over the past few months."

I don't follow you entirely. Your best shot at landing a job in Japan is teaching English, because that's your supposed skill-set. Getting any other kind of non-ESL work will pit you against people who a) speak Japanese and b) have advanced degrees and c) (probably) years of experience.
posted by bardic at 1:24 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sorry about all the harshness. I jus want you to be aware of how things are here. I know several people who are here, no degrees, sketchy visas, always trying to keep one step ahead of getting kicked out, and I'm not a fan. Cheap sketchy companies hire them, pay low wages, and it drags everyone down with them.

If by regional schools, you're talking about junior high schools, quite frankly you don't contact them. Either at the city or prefectural level, public schools use dispatch companies (Interac and the others •are• the dispatchers, you contact them by applying for jobs) because they don't want to deal directly with hiring foreigners. Either they don't feel up to the task, don't know how to find candidates, or don't want the bother of dealing with foreigners. Companies like Interac, Global, Wing, Sagan, w5s, and all the others are a buffer between the school and the foreign teachers. Public schools in particular don't hire directly. Private schools rarely do either, now.

Most of these companies (again, because the contract is important) only want to hire teachers with some experience in Japan. It's very hard, with the exception of a clearing house like Interac, to step into a junior high or high school job off the bat, unless you manage to get into JET.

As for becoming a part of the culture of your school, again, aside from JET, that's incredibly difficult to do. Some schools might be welcoming and wonderful. Most, though, will keep you at a certain distance. I have students with absolute horror shows going on in their life, but I literally have to dig to find out what's happening. At my last school, I was found that three students had shut another student in his locker. I went to get help from the Japanese teachers, and after they found out what had happened, they made it clear that they would deal with it, and my help wasn't needed or wanted.

Seriously, for getting a start, you have a much better chance with Eikaiwa. As for the non-competition thing, that's illegal. Don't take a job with any company claiming it's not.

If you get an eikaiwa/language school job, you'll have a chance to find out what it's like being here, and you'll have actual experience, becoming much more attractive to potential employers.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:43 AM on January 11, 2013

Just chiming in to second Ghidorah regarding how saturated the job market is here and how you've missed the boat this year since the 2013 hiring season peaked months ago.

What's the end game for you and your GF? If you're only looking for a year or two to earn some cash and enjoy sightseeing in Asia, then China (and to a lesser extent, Korea) is the place to be looking right now (as many pointed out above).

If you're really serious about Japan and are thinking about working here long term, I would strongly recommend that you consider getting a degree in TESOL (or at least a TESOL certificate) and some teaching/tutoring experience stateside first. It's great that you're studying Japanese, but you're going to need more than that to set you apart from the competition, especially in this market.

Here's an idea: why do you and your GF look into graduate school programs here? The MEXT offers scholorships.

Good luck.
posted by Kevtaro at 3:13 AM on January 11, 2013

If you really just want to live in Japan and immerse yourselves in the culture and country, and you're willing to shell out some money to make that happen, why not sign up at a Japanese language school? They will sponsor you on a student visa, which allows you to work a fair amount of hours every week completely legally.

Just being in Japan in the first place, and on a visa that allows you to work, will make it way easier to find something. That's how I got my teaching job in a small school that didn't really advertise anywhere - I found it through the network I had in the city where I lived. Friends of mine ended up working in places like hostel receptions, blogging for pay and starring as consultant gaijin at business meetings. My second job in Japan I similarly found by knowing another English teacher who'd once given a really good lesson to this nice Japanese girl who worked in another small English school and came back to my friend saying they were looking to hire someone on short notice.

Also, you could solve your two-body problem fairly easily by turning your relationship into a marriage. Yeah, it's one of those things you want to decide for other reasons than practical/immigration ones, but look into how much easier it is to bring a dependent over compared to trying to find jobs for two unrelated people (who might not even be allowed to rent an apartment together because Japan is not really into unmarried people sharing a rental contract). Signing a marriage certificate might be worth it if it makes it that much easier to reach your common goal.
posted by harujion at 3:42 AM on January 11, 2013

2,000 between a person sounds like it would work out for us.

Please forgive me, but you don't know what you are talking about. $2,000 will barely cover a round-trip in steerage. Once you two are in country for your three-month tour of pounding the pavement, you are going to need money for shelter, food, transportation, and other basic needs. Since you can't work, you have no place for this money to come from. Maybe one of you two has a relative who is willing to front you two $10k with no hope of its return, but I do not sense that from your question. And I think I am being pretty optimistic in saying that $10k is what two people in Japan would need. It's probably more than that unless you think you can live on $1600 per month.

Indeed, there is much negativity, not sure why we seem to be drawing so much ire

This is an uncharitable thing to say to the people who know much better than you and who are trying to help you. We are not being "harsh" and we are not giving you "negativity". We are giving you advice based upon our own experiences with reality. At least for my part, I am trying my best to speak the truth in love.

Let me be even more clear with you. I am a lawyer with sufficiently Japanese proficiency that I have been mistaken for a native on the phone in Japan. I am literate in Japanese. I am married to a Japanese citizen, so a visa is not a worry for me. In short, I have every advantage over you in this situation. I would not think of attempting what you plan to do. What you want to do is not realistic at all. And as an aside, I think it is a bad idea to get married just so you have an easier time immigrating into a country with a crappy job market for you as an unskilled worker (speaking English is not a skill). If you want to marry someone to get into Japan, you need to marry a Japanese woman instead of another foreigner.

Like I said before, I think JET is your best bet. (or MEXT, if you are interested in more school) Of course, JET is not going to care about your girlfriend, so even if you both get in (JET is increasingly competitive), there is no guarantee that you will both be stationed anywhere near each other. She's going to Niigata and you're going to Kagoshima? Oops. And, all things being equal, it is twice as likely that only one of you gets accepted to JET. Then what happens?

I don't know how you think you are going to work in "copywriting" when you don't know how to read and write. No one is going to hire you to do any job that isn't about English. It did occur to me that your girlfriend could get a job as a hostess in a foreigner sunakku in one of the big cities, depending on how pretty/cute Japanese people think she is. It is not a job I would want from my daughter or wife, but I am mentioning it an option that is there.

I mentioned before that the boyfriend/girlfriend element is the biggest complicating factor. Put bluntly, you have to decide what's more important to you: your girlfriend or making a go of things in Japan. Maybe some other commenter knows something I don't, but I have never heard of an unmarried couple attempting to immigrate together before. Maybe if you get married at some future time, you might try this again, because immigration will not be as much of a hassle. Or, you two might change your mind. It sounds like you have a good thing going here in the US, and maybe you'll stop being so fascinated with Japan. (I do not understand how you can be so fascinated with something of which you know so little) On the other hand, there are worse places to be for a single American male than Japan.

Again, we're not being mean. We are giving you advice that we think will help you. I do not think we would be doing you a service to advise you to spend a lot of money on an ill-planned idea.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:59 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I also vote going the school route if you're really interested in going to Japan and can't find a job.

I don't think anyone's being mean or negative either. I think they're being realistic. You might have to look for jobs separately and end up living in different areas. It's going to be hard to stay together.

South Korea is a great option. are a married Canadian couple who went together to South Korea together. Flights from SK to Japan are cheap and plentiful. (A friend of mine just took her husband there.) also has jobs, as does
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:02 AM on January 11, 2013

The fact of the matter is that you're going to have to work like hell to get a job in Japan. You're going to have to do more than email resumes. You are going to have to make phone call after phone call after phone call. Phone up James. Try to find someone who can give you some advice.

Maybe you don't need to work at an eikaiwa. But sometimes you need to take a shit job as a stepping stone to get what you want.

Don't worry about non-competes in the world of eikaiwa. They're likely illegal, and there's no absolutely no way to enforce them.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just another thought -- Busan is South Korea's second largest city, with plenty of ESL jobs for people with four-year degrees.

Fukuoka, Japan is three hours away by a very cheap ferry service. If you're a US citizen, you don't need a tourist visa for (I believe) 30 days.

You could spend your weekends in Japan while working in Korea if you wanted (it would be expensive, but you see where I'm going).
posted by bardic at 12:00 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the long delay, I wanted to have a thourough response, first chance to really sit down with this for a while.

I do appreciate the real advice being given.

I have asked my girlfriend where she heard that and has been unable to find it, so I'm rescinding that. As of this posting, me and my girlfriend have talked it over and are applying to Korea and Vietnam.

We are also shifting our focus back to recruiters to get us into the country.

We are still exploring work outside of ESL. Reselling exclusive pokemon to non-asian countries and creating items for "bronies" (they pay rediculously for silly little things) are still on there. Another options or two that have presented themselves include courier work (something I've always wanted to do and can't find work for outside of cities) and giving tours have opened up.

Was thinking about working with cooking before and remembered one ESL teacher I saw who would pair with English cooks to make food and explain what each food item is. The paycheck was there and matches an ideal job of mine.

Another source of income we found is through medical research:

Thanks for the heads up the non-compete thing being illegal, we will look into that.

Dissappointed that the hiring season peaked months ago, I thought we were right on the ball, applying around for the past two months.

Graduate school is an option we have considered in the past. We were however looking to loose some debt as opposed to accrueing more.

As for the $2,000 note, we were told to bring that much for the first two months to pay for rent and food. It sounds as though our combined living situation would have made that even more viable, $10,000 sounds a bit much, more then double what we would need according to the recruitment agency, it is an interesting response we have passed along. I am however, confused how $2,000 would work for steerage.

Realistic responses are fair, ideas for how to pull it off is better. The Woofing is a great way I've seen people pull of seeing a country in the past and can't believe I forgot it.
posted by Nighthawk3729 at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2013

The phrase "$2,000 will barely cover a round-trip in steerage" means that an economy-class round trip ticket to Japan will cost about $2,000. Each. So, you will need about $4,000 between the two of you just to get on the plane. You will need extra money to live once you land.

I think that 180,000 yen for two adults' living expenses for two months is not realistic. That's 45,000 yen per man-month. A 200 square-foot one-room apartment in Nagoya is going to be about 70,000 yen per month, according to the short-term rental websites I reviewed. So, of your 180,000 yen, 140,000 will go to rent. That gives you 40,000 yen for all other expenses for two months. $440 for two people for two months. Maybe whomever you are talking to has an arrangement with some very cheap accommodations, but these figures is why I think you are underfunded.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:36 PM on January 25, 2013

For Japan, I would budget $11,000 for two people (who knows? maybe Korea and Vietnam is cheaper!):

- $2000 [$1000 per person per round-trip plane ticket.]
- $500 [shut-down costs wherever you are]
- $200 [first night's accommodation for two people]
- $100 [first week's metro transport for two people]
- $750 [first month's shared Gaijin House accommodation for two people]
- $1000 [first month's food for two people - includes eating out]
- $500 [get set up with internet in first month (no free WiFi in Japan)]
- $500 [incidentals]
- $250 [transport for two for the rest of the first month, unless you get a transit pass]
- $1500 [rent for next 2 months at a Gaijin house]
- $1000 [food for next 2 months]
- $100 [Internet for next 2 months]
- $100 [transport for next 2 months]
- $3000 [startup costs if you need to go back home with no job]

This includes a cushion to get you back home and set up - take that away and it's $8000. Doesn't include any utilities or taxes.

Internet includes 1 smartphone with 3G/LTE internet access that can be used as a hotspot for your laptop and Skype.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:55 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I said Gaijin House, because usually it is quite expensive to get into an apartment, with deposits and multiple service fees.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:56 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

One more thing to factor, unless its been said already: most companies pay once a month, on either the 20th or 25th of the month, and there are companies out there that don't pay until after you first calendar month (from your start until the end of your first month gets paid to you, prorated, on the payday of your second month), so it's possible to work for forty-fifty days before getting your first paycheck.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:27 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

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