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What are my Best Options for Moving to Japan as a Married Couple?

by Brianna
(Atlanta, GA, USA)

Hi there. I am a pediatric nurse in the USA. My husband has a degree in film but is working in Accounts Payable. We both want to spend at least a year in Japan and we figure teaching English would be our best option.

We are applying to JET and Interac as our backup, but their general approach is:

"Well if you're married we will /try/ to place you in the same city but no guarantees!"

And other companies such as AEON require you to live in company housing, but only offer single-occupant apartments (and it seems like we would be penalized if we didn't mind the small space and lived in one together). We don't want to work in the same place, but we want to live together.

We decided to move to Japan after we went on our honeymoon--in Japan. Living in separate cities is simply not an option. Any suggestions?

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Aug 20, 2019
What are my Best Options for Moving to Japan as a Married Couple?
by: John

Hi Briana and thanks for reaching out. I can say a couple of things about this and since you bent my ear, okay I'll bite.

First off, I am not so sure that teaching English would be your best option. I would say it is AN option. Both of you have skill sets that go well beyond what many recent grads who come here to teach have. Many teachers here are hired by Interac, Westgate, JET, Nova etc. without teaching experience and have no where near the skill sets you guys have. In short you may be selling yourself a little short here.

I would recommend you spend a bit of time looking into other things besides teaching because you CAN. Most newbies don't have that option.

Yes, you are right about the "We'll try to put you in the same city but no guarantees thing." It is the mantra of large scale eikaiwa. The system they use is predicated on a churn and burn mentality. Does it work? Yup. It works on inexperienced teachers with limited skill sets. As offering housing is something that they hold over the heads of their teachers as they know that it is difficult to get on your own apartments because of the necessity of guarantors.

So I think you would benefit by shifting your mind set a bit. Have you ever eaten a cow? I did. But not in one bite. A BBQ here and there, liver paste, some ribs, a cheese burger, meat loaf etc. Before I knew it I had eaten a whole cow. You are trying to do the same thing by trying to hit the ball out of the park every time you're at bat.

I would attack this thing in steps. First, target the city you want to live in. Your top 5 in terms of population are Tokyo, Yokohama (my favorite), Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo. Big markets means more job opportunities in teaching AND OUTSIDE OF TEACHING. More diversity in housing and flexibility and openness to foreigners.How big is the Tokyo job market?

Because you are trying to get hired from outside of Japan they have you over a barrel ONLY at the start. After they issue a visa to you
and you are over here they have much less leverage. They can't take the visa away from you. So you can legally stay in the country for the duration of the visa. This also gives you leverage over them. Because you are here you have a huge pool of potential employers to choose from as getting a visa is no longer an issue. And TONS of employers want to hire teachers who have a valid working visa.

If you are both working full-time you'll have cash. This buys freedom to work for other employers who pay better, have better housing and are more flexible with employees. Even if you were to quit your teaching job, you could easily get by on 1 salary.How far will your salary go? Expense breakdown.

So just get your visa situation squared away first. If you're placed in different cities you can always just move after a short time and get your own place together.

In the meantime he can stay with you and you with him alternate your stay-overs as a VERY TEMPORARY measure - bite, bite,bite. There is work everywhere once you're here so you can cherry pick the situation. Bite, bite, bite. If you do wind up in separate cities no sweat. Your next step is to network like a maniac and find foreigner friendly landlords and make Japanese friends - bite, bite, bite. Expand your social network - bite, bite, bite. Systematically remove obstacles in your path - bite, bite, bite.

And there you go. Now we have both eaten a cow. Don't worry about it I'll pick up the check for dinner.

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