Help to settle in
Whether it's your first move or you're a seasoned traveller, moving to a new country is often filled with little trials and tribulations. To make life easier for our incoming teachers and their families we have two teachers who work as New Teacher Coordinators.
They will contact you prior to your arrival in Japan to answer any questions, introduce you to other new teachers and ensure a smooth transfer from the airport to a local hotel. After you arrive they will help you arrange accomodation, mobile phones, internet, bank accounts and other essentials that will help you settle in quickly. They also help with registering your arrival in Japan with local authorities, can arrange day care for families with younger children your first few weeks and arrange a few social events to help you relax and meet others from your new community.
Where to live?
Most faculty and staff live in Yokohama within two or three kilometers of the the school, with the remaining 25% living in Tokyo or between Tokyo and Yokohama along the Toyoko train line. The Toyoko line connects central Tokyo with nearby Motomachi-Chukagai station in just over 30 minutes by limited express. Neighborhoods vary in their offerings, character and convenience; generally speaking Tokyo is a bit more congested and higher priced than Yokohama, but there is a mix of urban and quieter residential areas in both cities. Door-to-door commuting from within Yokohama could take from 5 - 30 minutes, while 40 - 60 minutes is more common for Tokyo.
The great majority of YIS faculty and staff live in rental housing, which may be government or privately owned. Some longer-term residents purchase property. Government-owned rental apartments require a lower deposit than private accommodation and fewer administrative procedures for moving in and out. Private housing takes the form of rental apartments, rental condominiums or rental houses, ranging in style from the very modern to the traditional. In general, housing in Yokohama provides more floor space for the same price than Tokyo or areas near Tokyo. In almost all cases, housing does not include furniture such as fridges, washing machines or stoves but these can be easily purchased using your settling-in allowance. There are also several online platforms used by the expatriate community for buying and selling used furniture.
Cost of Living
Although Japan has the reputation of being a high-cost country, life in Yokohama and Tokyo is actually quite affordable in comparison with other major cities in Asia, Europe and North America. Yes, it is possible to find $100 melons, but most groceries and other necessities for day to day life are reasonably priced.
Health Care in Japan
The quality of health care in Japan is on a par with the U.S., European countries and other industrialized countries. Most people use single-doctor or small group clinics to deal with common health issues. Mid-sized and large hospitals also have most departments common in western countries. Although the level of English at clinics varies, a growing number of hospitals provide free interpretation services for non-Japanese patients. There are also healthcare providers frequented by YIS staff close to the school, including alternative healthcare options.
Childcare in Japan
There are several options for childcare centers with English-speaking staff in the school vicinity. The trade-off in price between these more expensive centers and the cheaper government- operated centers comes in the prolonged and bureaucratic application process for the latter. Applications for government centers begin in November for entrance in April, the beginning of the Japanese school year. There are also some foreign nannies providing daycare and after-school childcare and babysitting, but Japan does not have the system of affordable live in childminders common in some other Asian countries. The school also maintains a babysitting list of YIS students who can provide hourly services after school or on weekends.
Japanese taxes are complex and not insignificant. The Japanese taxation system is a progressive income tax system comprising national taxes and local taxes that are phased in over a period of time. So for incoming new teachers taxes are low in the first year and increase in years two and three, after which they level off. Taxable income varies considerably according to individual circumstances (e.g., salary, allowances, family size/number of dependents, social insurance status, etc.) but for most teachers in the third year of employment and later, the effective income tax rate averages between 10 - 14% of gross income. Added to this, from the second year of employment employees are assessed residents tax, comprising municipal and prefectural taxes, at a rate of 10% of taxable income for the previous year. Again, the calculation of taxable income will vary considerably from individual to individual, but generally speaking for a teacher in the third year of employment the total of income and residents tax combined works out to about 24 - 28% of gross income.
Employees whose sole income is from YIS generally need not file income tax returns, as withholding tax is deducted by the business office per pay period. There is also a year-end tax adjustment in December, and most employees receive slightly higher net pay that month.