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An Expat’s Guide to Seamless Living Beyond the Job Search

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Ankit Dhama

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Introduction

Beyond the excitement of landing a job in Japan, the journey of an expatriate involves navigating daily life intricacies. This guide, curated for international job seekers, provides practical tips to help you thrive in Japan. From finding the right accommodation to seamlessly navigating public transportation and understanding local customs, this comprehensive resource is your go-to companion for a successful expat experience.


Finding Accommodation

1. Researching Neighborhoods:

Explore various neighborhoods to find one that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. Consider factors such as proximity to work, amenities, and community atmosphere.

2. Real Estate Websites:

Utilize real estate websites to browse available housing options. Websites like Suumo, Apartment Japan, and GaijinPot Housing offer a variety of listings suitable for expats.

3. Engaging Real Estate Agents:

Consider engaging the services of a real estate agent who specializes in working with expatriates. They can provide valuable insights and assistance in the rental process.

4. Understanding Rental Contracts:

Familiarize yourself with Japanese rental contracts. Pay attention to terms, conditions, and the overall rental process to ensure a smooth transition.

5. Budgeting for Additional Costs:

Be prepared for additional costs such as key money, agency fees, and insurance. Understanding the full cost of renting helps in budgeting effectively.


Navigating Public Transportation

1. Getting a Suica or Pasmo Card:

Simplify your commute by getting a Suica or Pasmo card. These rechargeable smart cards make traveling on trains, buses, and even vending machines hassle-free.

2. Understanding Train Systems:

Familiarize yourself with the extensive train network in Japan. Apps like HyperDia can help you plan your routes and navigate the intricate train systems.

3. Using Bus Services:

Explore bus services for short-distance travel within the city. Buses complement the train system and offer convenient options for reaching specific destinations.

4. Getting a Bicycle:

Embrace the local lifestyle by getting a bicycle. Many cities are bike-friendly, and cycling is an efficient and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

5. Ridesharing and Taxis:

Understand the availability of ridesharing services and taxis. While taxis can be more expensive, they are convenient, especially for late-night travel.


Understanding Local Customs

1. Politeness and Bowing:

Embrace the Japanese custom of bowing as a gesture of politeness. The depth of the bow can vary based on the formality of the situation.

2. Removing Shoes Indoors:

Respect the practice of removing shoes when entering someone’s home or certain traditional establishments. Always have clean socks on hand.

3. Proper Use of Chopsticks:

Master the proper use of chopsticks. Avoid pointing them, sticking them vertically in food, or passing food directly from one set of chopsticks to another.

4. Queueing Etiquette:

Observe queueing etiquette, especially in public places and transportation hubs. Wait patiently in line, and avoid cutting ahead of others.

5. Seasonal Customs and Festivals:

Familiarize yourself with seasonal customs and festivals. Participating in local celebrations enhances your cultural experience and fosters connections within the community.

” Recently moved to Japan? How is your life going there? Share your experiences with others on our LinkedIn group, ‘A Day in the Life as a Japanese Employee.


Dos and Don’ts for a Seamless Expat Life

Dos:

  1. Do Research Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with local customs to navigate social situations with ease.
  2. Do Explore Different Neighborhoods: Take the time to explore various neighbourhoods to find the one that best suits your lifestyle.
  3. Do Utilize Smart Cards for Transportation: Simplify your commute by using Suica or Pasmo cards for public transportation.
  4. Do Budget for Additional Housing Costs: Consider all housing-related costs to effectively budget for your accommodation.
  5. Do Embrace Bicycling: Consider getting a bicycle for short-distance travel and to experience local life.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Overlook Rental Contract Details: Read rental contracts carefully to avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth rental process.
  2. Don’t Neglect Transportation Options: Explore various transportation options, including trains, buses, and bicycles, for a well-rounded commuting experience.
  3. Don’t Disregard Seasonal Customs: Embrace seasonal customs and festivals to connect with the local community and enrich your cultural experience.
  4. Don’t Ignore Queueing Etiquette: Practice proper queueing etiquette to respect the order in public places and transportation hubs.
  5. Don’t Forget to Remove Shoes Indoors: Adhere to the practice of removing shoes indoors to show respect when entering homes

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