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Osaka. It has everything Tokyo does, but friendlier people. There is less foriegners around and its close to Kobe and Kyoto. Its also close to areas like Nara and Wakayama. There is a lot of great cultural things, plus this huge, extreamly modern city. I love it.
I would also pick Osaka....although I only spent a week there (versus a year in Tokyo), you have all the benefits of the big city with the ability to get out and enjoy the countryside. I also found that people in Osaka were a little more open and easy to talk to......
Originally I wanted to go to Osaka, however, after hearing that Osaka and Tokyo were the most expensive cities on the planet, I decided it might be better to go elsewhere. Are you finding that your salary is allowing you to live comfortably enough?
I'm not going to Japan with the intent to save money, just pay off a small debt, shop and travel travel travel.
That poll is BS. Get used to normal Japnaese life, and you can live quite cheaply no matter what city you are in. My friend was living on ni-man en (~$174) a month after paying rent and that was in Tokyo.
I rather agree with dj. Don't be put off by those polls. They give a misleading impression of the cost of living because included in the calculations are a set of costs which are both peculiarly high in Japan and not applicable to most short-term-staying foreigners (land prices, school fees, car-parking etc.).
These things apart, Japanese cities (though expensive) seem to me, and for my purposes, cheaper than London or Paris.
Oh! Kobe is the best city to live in. Kyoto and Osaka tie for second. Whatever,......it HAS to be Kansai.
It's a peculiar (and perplexing) point of pride among many Japanese that the country should be recognised as expensive by the foreingers living here. One "question" you'll grow tired of being asked is "Nihon wa takkai ne?". I put "question" in scare-quotes because this is not a question, you are only being invited to affirm that this is the case. Dissenting from this opinion (as a Londoner or New Yorker living in, say, Yamaguchi-ken might feel inclined and entitled to do) will lead to obviously hurt feelings.
It's strange, and strange twice. Strange first because "being expensive" is plainly not a good thing, it seems akin to a man's insisting that you recognise his wife as a nag or his daughter as a slut. Strange second because, since I live in Japan, my salary is of course paid at local rates and in yen. Do they imagine that we're paid in our own currencies or at whatever pay-rates they imagine obtain in out home countries? Or that we always convert prices back into sterling/dollars/CDN$ etc.?
When you come to Japan, you'll be paid a wage which, though far from princely will allow you to live in modest comfort even while saving and travelling a little. In point of fact the standard salary for Eikaiwa teachers is rather higher than a graduate salaryman with a blue-chip company would expect to earn until he reached 30 (thereafter his earnings will increase while yours remain essentially static and he will ultimately far out-earn you).
The big schools recognise that there are differences in the costs of living between places in Japan and typically pay a weighting to accommodate this. Living in Tokyo or Osaka is more expensive, yes, but on the other side of the coin those cities offer far more, and more lucrative, earning opportunities. You really oughtn't to allow concerns about money to be a determining factor in your deciding where to live.
More on cost-of-living concerns. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry report issued on Monday and reported in the Japan Times (Tuesday, Feb 4th. '03) reveals that last year the average monthly income of full time salaried workers across all industries in Japan was \343,688 (annually, this is stlg22,000, US$33,500).
Of course, statistics aren't to be trusted. This was a mean (not median) figure and so gives a (here, twice) distorted picture. First it is artificially adjusted upwards by its including the salaries of chief executives, consultant surgeons, and so on. Second, it is artificially adjusted downwards by the inclusion of (that 'peculiar to Japan' phenomenon) the legions of 'office ladies' who are working in the 4 year window between leaving college and getting married, and whose salaries reflect the fact that they're expected to be living with their parents.
Still, let's suppose that these two factors essentially cancel each other out such that the figure given can be understood to represent a median income, what does this say about the cost of living in Japan as it pertains to a soon-to-arrive Eikaiwa teacher?
If you're to work for a chain school in a big city, your monthly package (including benefits such as paid health insurance) will likely cash-out at a little over \300,000. With the couple of private students most teachers have, the 'working median' figure can be straightforwardly reached from here.
Now consider what else is true in analysing the statistics. First, it remains the case that most households in Japan are supported by a single income, such that the median figure is in many cases being used to support a family. Second, you're 22 or so, but the median figure includes the earnings of workers already at the peak of their lifetime earning potential. And, these people survive in Japan.
Seriously, for a 22 year old with \300,000 yen a month the choice isn't between lving in modest comfort in the boondocks and struggling to get by in a metropolis; rather, it's between living in modest comfort in a metropolis and living the life of Reilly (Riley?) in the boondocks.
Japanese are often rather disconcertingly direct about money, don't be surprised to have some of your students ask you how much you earn. My tactic has always been to knock about a third off the true figure so as to leave them only agreeably scandalised rather than actually shocked.
Thank you for all your help. I do want to live in Osaka, but I spent two
years living it up slinging beers (aka Waitressing). Now I've taken a
considerable pay cut to work with special needs children to bulk up my grad
school CV. But basically, I still wish I was raking in insane amounts of
cash for getting a bunch of guys drunk (so easy it should be out-lawed!)
ECC pays 252,000 a month, so less than the mean. However, I definitely can
pick up some students. I don't have dependents, and I probably will only
crave McPukes maybe once a month.
So basically - I'm asking - do you really really really think that I will
reasonably get by on this salary? I want to travel, shop, and get tanked.
Oh yeah, and pay off a loan and pick up a laptop (maybe).
Thanks again for all your help,
"Donnie, the Badass Squirrel"
PS - I bought a 500 page grammar work book that I am plowing through. Damn
My feeling is that for a single person to "live comfortably"in a big Japanese city, as opposed to just getting by, you need \120,000 a month in your pocket after all fixed outgoings.
Do the maths on this: [your salary] - (your rent) - (your bills) - (your loan repayments) = ???.
If the amount left is more than \120,000, you will be able to live comfortably in a big city. If it isn't, you'll have to choose between scrimping a bit in the week so as not to be left out at the weekend or getting some private students, something you'll easily be able to do in one of the big cities.
For what it's worth, today's spending to give you some idea of prices:
Sliced Loaf \200
Orange juice (liter) \200
Coffee at cafe \350
Canned soft drink \120
Laundry detergent \400
Train fares "as" \700 ("as" because I have a train-pass)
Lunch at restaurant \900
Birthday card for sister \300
Spaghetti sauce for dinner \380
A bit over \4000, but my sister has a birthday but once a year, and several of the others are plainly non-essential or not-everyday purchases. I didn't drink today and that IS more expensive than at home.
Look, there are lots of ECC teachers in Osaka and Tokyo and they're all surviving. And, there are lots of Japanese who earn less than you'll be making. I'm not advising you to choose a city, only saying that you oughtn't to be put off by financial worries. It's your adventure, go where you WANT to go.
The messages regarding cost of living in Japan are perplexing, especially the 'shopping list' of individual items (as if all we eat, drink and do the same things).
Tokyo and Osaka are two of the most cost effective and efficient cities on the planet. The only major consideration as to expense is the cost of your apartment. A nice place in Tokyo, for example, will cost between 80,000 and 100,000 yen per month. This is still much cheaper than, say, London, New York or Paris, and guaranteed to be in much better condition.
Everything else, food, transport and shopping is much cheaper. Plus you have a greater range of cost effective choices (for example, ramen, isakayen and yakitori, 100 yen shops and places like Uniqlo for clothes).
As a teacher, it would be difficult to earn less than 250,000 yen per month. Therefore, the economics work quite well. Private work will then boost your earnings considerably.
Mark Lammerton wrote>>>"The messages regarding the cost of living are perplexing."
That's how much those things cost. We don't all like the same things but we most of us launder our clothes, drink canned drinks, read newspapers, eat chocolate bars and etc. Bread and orange juice are far from peculiar tastes. Sending a card internationally DOES cost \260. Cigarettes cost \280. A coffee (at Starbucks, hardly an outlandish expense) costs about the price quoted.
Hi Mark, (and, hello 'Hello', at the risk of arrest for impersonating a police officer),
I think we're singing from very much the same hymn sheet. I agree with you, it's quite possible to live comfortably on an eikaiwa salary even in one of the big cities.
Excerpts cut-and-pasted from my previous posts on this thread:
>>>>Seriously, for a 22 year old with \300,000 a month the choice isn't between lving in modest comfort in the boondocks and struggling to get by in a metropolis; rather, it's between living in modest comfort in a metropolis and living the life of Reilly (Riley?) in the boondocks
>>>>Look, there are lots of ECC teachers in Osaka and Tokyo and they're all surviving. And, there are lots of Japanese who earn less than you'll be making.
>>>>When you come to Japan, you'll be paid a wage which, though far from princely will allow you to live in modest comfort even while saving and travelling a little.
As for the list of prices. I DID try to stick to what could be - in so far as anything could be - understood as everyday, commonplace necessities, and to things which have fixed prices, such that there's no possibiltiy of buying cheaper by shopping around (newspaper, stamps, snickers bar, can of coke, etc.). Not everyone will want those things, but even those who don't can use them as a rough, thumbnail, guide of prices in general.
I'm a bit worried the squirrel has disappeared from these pages. I hope he hasn't been scared-off.
I wasn't responding to your individual message (see rules section) but to the discussion as a whole. It's perplexing because much of the information given is irrelevant (because it is highly personalised), and misleading.
The only things worth mentioning are major expenses, such as accomodation/mortgage and car/travel, which unless you have debt, leaves disposable income. Loan repayments (and other personal circumstances) are an individual liability, nothing to do with living in Japan. Whatever you spend it on is then a personal choice, and those costs are pretty much the same in any major city, including developing countries in SE Asia.
When an economist looks at a cost of living index he doesn't look at chocolate bars or birthday card for sister, he looks at interest rates, the cost of borrowing, GDP per head, income tax, etc. Japan, Taiwan and Korea are well established as the most profitable places to teach worldwide.
As this is a relatively new site, it would be useful to populate it with useful and, as far as is possible, objective information for genuine people who are 'coming to Japan'.
Oops.. Ignore the somewhat more direct message I just posted below!
I agree with your messages in the other postings. Everybody I know who hasn't actually been to japan has the same impression, that it is prohibitively expensive. But I can't think of anywhere I would rather be for a high standard of living.