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Old Apr 2nd 2012, 11:06 am   #1
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Default Moving to Kobe

Hi guys,

I would like to know the living cost in Kobe or a comparable city in Japan. If I have been provided accommodation and have NET 155,000 JPY per month.
Is it enough to support a family of me, wife and a newborn baby?

If my net income is 225,000 JPY per month and I have to rent for myself. Is it enough?

How is living cost compared to normal UK cities as Coventry and how is living cost compared to London also?

Thank you in advance
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Old Jun 21st 2012, 9:05 am   #2
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

Hi. It sounds like being provided accommodation and getting a lower net salary is the better deal, since I can't imagine living and paying rent all out of 255,000 in Osaka/Kobe for an expat family of 3. But first ask to see the accommodation.

We moved to Kobe in early 2012 and looked at apartments in Osaka and Kobe. Osaka was just ranked 3rd most expensive city in the world for expats. Kobe expat apartments were comparable in rental cost to Osaka. We looked at 2-3 bedroom "expat" apartments ("luxury") of a size comparable to a Western apartment in the US and the rents were about 500,000-800,000 JPY per month. We did find some landlords were willing to negotiate to include utilities or gym membership, etc. According to our real estate agent, most landlords don't want to deal with foreigners so we only looked at expat friendly buildings.

Plus there is also the security deposit,brokerage commission, and key money gift to the landlord. It ends up being a huge amount out of pocket at lease-signing. Your employer will likely need to probably sign as a guarantor of your lease, regardless of whether you pay the rent or they do. You can get a much cheaper rent if you take an unfurnished apartment, if your furniture is being shipped or if you can just buy some cheap Ikea stuff. Most places we looked at with both furnished and unfurnished apartments on offer differed dramatically in price depending on whether or not the unit was furnished. If you are staying for more than a few months, it's worth it to get unfurnished.

Anyway ask to see the accommodation you'll be provided. The apartments my husband's employer's real estate agent showed us were to the local standard, clean and safe, but nondescript and very, very small, so a 3 bedroom apartment would be approximately 700SF. In the US, that would be a small 1 bedroom apartment. Also, the more local style apartments do not often come with a full-size fridge, an oven and full range-top or cooktop, or a western style clothes dryer or a regular shower. The Japanese style clothes dryer, if available, consists basically of hanging your wash in the bathroom with a strong fan on, so most locals hang their wash on the balcony. Personally, I wasn't willing to give up my creature comforts and I wanted western size and style kitchen and laundry appliances, and a western style shower instead of just a bath, and bedrooms large enough to accommodate beds instead of soft futons spread on the floor at night and folded neatly into a cupboard by day. We ended up looking on our own through an English-speaking real estate agency specializing in helping expats.

Owning a car seems to be very expensive although we don't have one here yet. Trains are reasonably priced but not cheap. Taxis are outrageously expensive. Exactly 1 hour taxi ride from Kobe to Kansai Airport (KIX) cost me 29,000 yen. Thankfully my employer was paying for that for a business trip; I almost had a heart attack when I saw the cost! Maybe there were a lot of bridge tolls to account for en route but it seemed like highway robbery! A half hour taxi ride within Kobe costs me about 5,000 yen.

Food is also expensive. If you buy imported (Western) food, it's of course even more so. You can check the prices of western imported food that, once living anywhere in Japan, you can order online through fbcusa.com (FBC's store is on Rokko Island in Kobe), most items cost about 3-4 times their US price. You can get a membership to Costco but even there the prices aren't so great. In the regular supermarket near us, an orange would be about 100 yen and a large apple may cost 200-500 yen per apple. Clothing and toiletries are more expensive here than in the US, UK or Australia, and it's hard to find things in sizes to fit. We bought a lot of new clothes before moving here and also included a few boxes of toiletries in our container shipment, and I buy additional items in bulk when traveling in other countries.

Dining out is very expensive at western style restaurants and more reasonable at local Japanese establishments. For example, dinner for 2 at Hard Rock Cafe in Osaka, no appetizer, no alcohol, just 2 main dishes, 2 sodas and 2 desserts set us back around 80,000 yen.

They do have Babies R Us and Ikea where you can get stuff for your baby although I've found the prices on most things are about 2-3 times higher than in the US. Some things we can't get here at all, or want to get a specific brand or specification, and then we get those things sent to us by relatives back home.

After moving here from the New York City area, we spend loads more money now on rent, taxis and food than ever before, and those are our biggest areas of expenditure. We spend far less on going to see movies, live theatre and concerts, etc because there's no point in going, given our lack of Japanese language skills. Thus it's important to also get a good cable tv package that includes English language channels. We negotiated to get the cost of ours included in our rent.

Also, for some perspective, my husband and I are both professionals with doctoral degrees who work in pretty decent jobs for large corporations and we each make a relatively high middle class income, without being wealthy. We are probably spoiled in our standard of living and wanted to keep it about the same as it was before we moved to Japan. Both of our respective employers agreed to relocate us to Japan but only 1 of our 2 employers gave us an expat package. I realize our experience as corporate expats in a luxury building is probably much different than many who are here with little to no expat package, whether as students, military, teachers, etc. I'm sure there are better deals and cheaper ways to live for people who are more frugal and willing and able to adopt a more local lifestyle, and also who have some ability to speak Japanese and find things out more easily. I'm just giving you my own individual experience.
Good luck!
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Old Jun 26th 2012, 8:41 pm   #3
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

Hi lilpug,

Just wanted to welcome you to the community and to say thank you for responding to another member with such a details post. That was so very kind of you.
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Old Jun 29th 2012, 10:27 am   #4
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Thanks Sue!
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Old Jul 5th 2012, 7:34 pm   #5
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

My OH comes from Suma so I have spent quite some time in Kobe. While there I used to go to the movies quite a lot. Western movies were shown in English with Japanese subtitles. All very relaxing after struggling to understand and be understood during the day.
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Old Aug 3rd 2012, 10:07 pm   #6
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

Thank you lilpug very much for your detailed post. It says everything about Kobe. Actually I found another opportunity in Germany and going to move there. Anyway from your post, it seems that it was not possible to survive with such low income.
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Old Aug 3rd 2012, 11:31 pm   #7
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer2k View Post
Thank you lilpug very much for your detailed post. It says everything about Kobe. Actually I found another opportunity in Germany and going to move there. Anyway from your post, it seems that it was not possible to survive with such low income.
Congrats on the new opportunity in Germany, it's a lovely country to live ... great beer and wine
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Old Jun 6th 2013, 3:39 am   #8
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

Hi, I'll give you a run down of my living expenses in the Kobe area. (I was in Okamoto to be exact). I see the post has changed but just in case it helps others.

Rent : 65,000 yen / Month (1DK)
Gas : 4000 yen / Month (bath every day, cooking at home)
Electric : summer : 8000 yen / month | Winter : 6000 yen / month
Water : 4000 yen every 2 months
Food : no eating out - 40,000 yen / month
Parking space : 15,000 yen / month (optional)
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Old Jun 28th 2013, 6:42 pm   #9
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Default Re: Moving to Kobe

And my two sens' worth: Kobe is one of the nicest places in the world to live: culture, cuisine, scenery, accessibility, climate (summer's a challenge, but it does seem to have its own micro-climate), the old and the new, and the best beef in the world
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