Where To Live in Japan

Expats worldwide love living in Japan. The country is beautiful, with a vibrant and rich culture.
Many of the foreigners in Japan live within Tokyo’s 23 wards. It is a common misconception that most foreigners would consider living in the central wards (Shinjuku, Chuo, Shibuya, Minato, and Chiyoda) because of its collection of most businesses and entertainment hubs However, a good number of expats reside in Ebisu Hiro, Iidabashi, Azabu, Aoyama, and Roppongi.

What Are the Best Cities to Live In Japan?

Tokyo

It is a given that the capital city offers the best living conditions in Japan. It is a big city that offers great attractions – a mix of traditional and high-technology. Living in Tokyo means experiencing loads of attraction ranging from everyday entertainment such as museums, art galleries, and shopping to an exciting nightlife in its high end clubs and bars.

As it is the capital city of Japan, it goes without saying that living here can be pricey. Almost everything here is expensive including food and rent. It has, in fact, one of the highest cost of living in the world.

Foreigners who choose to live longer in Tokyo would largely benefit from buying a home instead of just renting one out. A number of Japan banks offer financing that has relatively high loan-to-value or price making it a lot cheaper than renting.

Yokohama

Yokohama is another must-see and must-live city in Japan. Like Tokyo, it is a big city and populous but offers cheaper accommodations. The city is not as crowded as Tokyo and boasts of many traditional gardens, parks, museums, and art galleries. Another good thing about Yokohama is its easy access to the capital city of Tokyo. It is also close to many other modern cities and the sea.

Osaka

Osaka is another famous Japan city to live in. Many foreigners also consider living here for the warm and friendly atmosphere. The city serves as Kansai’s economic center where famous districts are in. Osaka is also popular for its food scene. It is not uncommon to meet a local who does not love to eat.

The city is close to Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto and is home to many varying aspects of Japanese culture. The cost of living in Osaka is lower by 30% but has fewer job opportunities than Tokyo.

Kyoto

The beautiful city of Kyoto is also a good city to live in. Living here is like witnessing a marriage of traditional Japan with modern age. While in the city, one can bask in the rich history of Japan as they experience technological advancements in its modern transportation and local amenities.

Kyoto is a good residential alternative for Tokyo, as cost of living is much cheaper.

Fukuoka

The city is among the populous cities in the list as it is also the largest city in Southern Japan. It is surrounded by mountains on three side and the by the Hakata Bay on the fourth side. Fukuoka is a nice city to live in for its low cost of living, rich nightlife, and great accessibility.
It boasts of an exciting food scene, with many local restaurants offering hot pot, spicy cod roe, and pork stock ramen.

Those who want to experience Japan, Fukuoka is a good choice as it has fewer foreigners than Osaka or Tokyo. It is also closer to Korea and does not experience much earthquakes.

Sapporo

Located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is a beautiful city rife with attractions. It has a great collection of parks, galleries, museums, and historic buildings that will make one’s stay in Japan truly remarkable.

Living in Sapporo is ideal for those who are not big on tropical weather. In fact, many of the residents and tourists alike love the snow and ski resorts in the city. The city is also widely visited especially during April to May for the cherry blossom viewing (hanami).

Fujisawa (Kanagawa Prefecture)

The coastal city is best known for its relaxed ambiance. It is the best city to live in Japan for its great accessibility. It has a convenient public transportation system that allows residents to reach the heart of Tokyo in half an hour or less. One can easily fall in love with this city and its collection of centuries-old temples. It also offers majestic sunset views of the famed Mount Fuji.

The decision of where to live in Japan always comes down to one’s own preference. Lifestyle and financial factors taking a huge percentage when it comes to decision making. A large number of people mainly choose their place of residence depending on the food and health conditions, community friendliness, access to entertainment venues, distance to public transportation, economic factors, and daily life conveniences. Some also consider the historic significance, access to top-rated schools, and proximity to employment opportunities.

What Are the Best Cities to Live in Japan for Expats?

Japan has its fair share of expats. Their choice of city depends on their lifestyle, local amenities, and entertainment opportunities.

Tokyo, the most famous Japanese city, is one of the best cities in Japan for expats. The capital city has lots of high-paying job opportunities. Most expats who prefer to live at the heart of the city may find the Shibuya, Minato, and Meguro wards pretty inviting. The only downside of Tokyo living is the cost of housing can be quite expensive. Tokyo is a huge city with lots of opportunities for exploration but it can also get pretty busy since it has more than 38 million people living here.

Osaka is an alternative to Tokyo for those who find the latter too populous or pricey. The second largest city, Osaka is also great for expats. People living here are friendlier and the ambiance is more relaxing. They also have the best food choices and is known as “Japan’s kitchen.”

The problem with Osaka is the lack of street signs so it can be quite difficult to get around when you are still fairly new in the city. Other than that, Osaka has cheaper housing accommodations than Tokyo.

Expats looking for a laid back atmosphere will find Nagoya to their liking. Life here is much slower than the two big cities. Many expats here make a living through vehicle manufacturing business.

If city living is not your cup of tea, Japan also has small towns. This includes Kagoshima, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima. Hokkaido is not that populous and offers one of the cheapest accommodations in the country. It is also great if you are an outdoorsy type of person since you can enjoy skiing, hiking, and white-water rafting here. The only problem of living in smaller towns is communicating with the locals since any here might not speak or understand English.

What is the Best Place to Live in Japan – City or Countryside?

Would you go urban or rural? There are a few considerations to consider depending on what your preferences are.

Language Ability

Small towns, as mentioned earlier, have difficulty communicating in English compared to residents living in the big cities. Tokyo is expectedly tourist and English-friendly. Many of the offices in the city even have English translations. So if your knowledge of the Japanese language is zero, it might be best to live in the city. But, if you are adventurous and want to completely immerse in the Japanese way of living, the countryside is the best place for you.

Accessibility

The big cities like Osaka and Tokyo have established and reliable public transport system. Tokyo has an extensive bus network in addition to its dozen of subway lines and train systems. If you own a car, your main problem with going around the city is traffic and parking availability. In fact, you must present a proof of permanent parking space before you can own a car in Tokyo.

On the other hand, cars may be a necessity in rural areas. Even mundane daily activities such as going to the grocery or train station requires car. If you are not a fan of driving, the countryside is not a good place for you. The countryside may appeal to you if you are fond of road trips while enjoying a pleasant scenery.

Personality

Ultimately, your choice of residence comes down to your personality. If you prefer the tranquility and peacefulness of a place, rural areas will be the best choice. Cities tend to be crowded and can sometimes be overwhelming with its fast-paced lifestyle. Even catching a train ride during rush hour can cause anxiety and panic. It can also be quite suffocating to walk in the city – too many locals rushing to work and tourists hogging the streets and sidewalks.

Living in a small town is also good for establishing social connections. Many of expats living in rural areas cherish the idea that they are part of a community. This type of connection may be too hard to find in the city where people are too busy.