Start-up Costs in Japan

I have a pending job offer from XXX to come to teach in XXX as an ALT this coming March.

One of my main concerns will be the start up costs required in Japan. I do not have much savings and by the time I am required to come to Japan, I might only have a little over $3300 Singapore dollars.

That will have to include my one way air ticket, and I reckon I am required to pay rent + a deposit for my apartment, on top of that I need to pay for my transport and food.

I understand that for ALT positions, dispatch companies tend to pay the ALTs salaries at the end of the 2nd month after they commence work. (Though I don’t quite understand what is the rationale behind this practice)

My greatest worry then is that I have not enough money to tide over til I get my first paycheck.

I like to seek your advice, with your understanding from your own experience and what you might know from meeting other gaijins in Japan. about minimum start up costs in Japan.

In the event that I have insufficient money, will I be refused the job offer?

I understand Interac offers loans to potential ALTs but I don’t know if XXX will do the same.

XXX is a shady company with a lot of negative publicity and they have not been responsive to answering my emails, so I am forced to ask around. I don’t know any other Singaporean ALT working in Japan other than you, so I will like to ask if you can provide some advice to a fellow Singaporean.

Thank you and I forward to hear from you soon.

The above query was posted to me by SH. Company names and location have been censored for privacy protection purposes.

Hi SH,

It seems that you have done your bit of research on salary payments by dispatch companies. Interestingly, it is not rare for companies here to give a delayed payment instead of an advanced payment like in Singapore (albeit just a few days in advance).

Unfortunately, I don’t know if companies can deny you work based on your financial status. But let’s look at your situation below.

$3,300 would give you about 300,000 yen at the current exchange rate. But considering the one-way air ticket, which can differ greatly depending on the airline you take, I would think it’s not enough, especially if the company doesn’t pay you for most of the first two months. Conservatively, setting aside $1,000 for the air ticket, you would be left with $2,300. That would be around 200,000 yen.

The start-up costs of an average apartment at the 50,000 yen range, including cleaning, sterilization, agent fee, deposit, key money (if any), etc. would come up to around 180,000 yen, if not more. That would leave you with only 20,000 yen to survive for almost two months. It’s barely enough for transportation, let alone food. Bear in mind that does not include utilities. Further, most apartments are not furnished, so your house will be empty, although you can request for furnished apartments.

If you scrimp and save and cook your own meals everyday, you would require around $1,000 for two months on food alone. Transportation depends on where you live and where you commute to, so I can’t comment on that.

With a furnished apartment, I would suggest at least 500,000 yen as the bare minimum to tide you through till your first paycheck.

Regarding housing rental. Agents typically work like this: If you start renting on the first of the month, you just have to pay one month’s rent in advance. However, if you start on any other date, you would have to pay the pro-rated rent for that month + the full rent of the following month in advance.

Nomad, a new housing agent, seems to be getting popular recently as they do not charge agent fees, but I’ve never used them nor do I know anyone who have used them before, so I don’t know if there’s any catch. No harm doing more research on them though.

Hope this helps.

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