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How much $ should I save for Japan?

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How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby jboix2000 » Thu 08.30.2007 1:25 pm

I am planning to go to Japan as an exchange student. I'm trying to save up some money. If you have lived in Japan before please tell me how much the cost of living, food, school, accessories, ect. I would like to know how much it would actually cost to live in Japan for one year. Giving your answer in dollars/yen is very appreciated. (ex. 1usd/115.52 jpy)

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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Shirasagi » Thu 08.30.2007 1:31 pm

You won't like my answer, but bring as much as you can. Whatever you bring, it won't be enough. Budget your money now, find out much you can reasonably save, and save that money. Save to the limit of your resources.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Dehitay » Thu 08.30.2007 3:12 pm

I've been wondering about this too. Since I intend to go with JET, I'm not worrying much about the plane ticket. I'm using to living a frugal life so I could probly deal with any housing that comes at 50,000 yen/mo or less. But there's random variables I don't know much about. Those who have paid for these things, can you tell us how much you've paid so we can get an idea about some extra costs?

cell phone (also what kind of phone was it)
high speed internet connection
transportation
laundry
various cleaning supplies you might have bought
plates, bowls, cups
pots, pans, rice cooker
playing cards (as a pathetic excuse for a magician, I tend to constantly destroy deck after deck)
gym membership (mainly for exercising; but if you know how much a martial arts class cost as well, I'm also curious)
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 08.30.2007 3:23 pm

Whatever you bring, it won't be enough.


I disagree with this. Both times I went to Japan, what I had was well over double what I needed, and I really didn't bring an excessive amount. There are too many variables to say.

Dehitay: With JET it's a complete crapshoot. You won't know how much money to bring until you know where you're going. I spent less than $500 before my first paycheck, but there are stories of people needing thousands of dollars. The worst case scenario is that you get placed in a crappy apartment with no furnishings, with a corrupt BOE that has stolen the money the government gives them to pay for your incoming costs. This is highly unlikely, but it does happen to very very small number of people. The best case scenario is pretty much what I had; you have a furnished apartment that was paid for by the BOE so you don't need to buy anything off your predecessor. In that case you basically just need money for a few weeks of food. Also, whether or not you will need a car makes a big difference.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby JaySee » Thu 08.30.2007 3:25 pm

The cheapest cell phones are free, though you need a subscription... the cheapest subscriptions are about 3000 yen a month I think. I remember paying about 4000 yen a month (though I didn't use it very often).

I payed about 4000 yen a month for my internet connection but I think if you look hard enough you might find companies who offer the same thing for 3000 or so.

Transportation really depends, I know theres a flat rate for buses in kyoto of 220 yen and the osaka loop line is about 150-200 yen, depending on how far youre going. The train from Osaka to Kyoto is about 500 yen (though this of course depends on where you get on/off). Generally for inner city bus/tran/subway traveling id say youll pay about 150-250 yen (though you can get commuter passes which can make things a lot cheaper if you travel regularly between the same stations).

cleaning supplies/plates, bowls, cups -> 100 yen shop :p

you can get a cheap new rice cooker for about 4000 yen, the really advanced ones cost over 50000 yen. They have a lot of 2nd hand shops though, where you can get electronic stuff like tvs (and other things) much cheaper.

Playing cards.. I bought a deck once and if i remember correctly that cost me about 500 yen.

gym membership I have no idea, sorry.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Shirasagi » Thu 08.30.2007 3:35 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Whatever you bring, it won't be enough.


I disagree with this. Both times I went to Japan, what I had was well over double what I needed, and I really didn't bring an excessive amount. There are too many variables to say.


Dude, I'm trying to be extreme for effect! :) (Besides, wasn't one of your stays in Tochigi on the JET program? That's a bit different [by which I mean lucrative] from being an exchange student, isn't it? ;))

As you say, there are many variables. But I simply fear that if we set a target, the OP will hit the target, and then may find they need more money once they get over here. I mean, I can (and have) lived on roughly 160,000 yen/mo...in Ikebukuro! But I would never recommend that. What about travel? Socializing? I can blow through ichi-man-en in one night just hanging with friends in Nagoya - and I live a relatively staid life where partying usually just involves dinner -> bar -> karaoke until dawn.

So basically, my point to the OP is, don't set a target. Figure out the maximum you can possibly save now and save it. And budget your money after you get here. If you end up with more than you need, like Chris, that's great. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby jboix2000 » Thu 08.30.2007 4:29 pm

Arigatou,
Your input is very well appreciated. I know I should just bring whatever I can to Japan and see how much I would actually spend, but since it will be my first time out of the States I just wanted a rough estimate of an 'average person's' cost per year to live in Japan.
So far I am getting the feeling that it's roughly around $20,000/year (around 2,000,000yen) Of course that is a high rough estimate. If this is true then the cost of living would be pretty close to that of the USA. I guess it would'nt be to bad, maybe i can survive. LOL :D
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Mike Cash » Fri 08.31.2007 4:06 am

JaySee wrote:
The cheapest cell phones are free, though you need a subscription... the cheapest subscriptions are about 3000 yen a month I think. I remember paying about 4000 yen a month (though I didn't use it very often).



Softbank has a plan with the basic fee at 980 yen per month, and calls to other Softbank phones are free.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby JaySee » Fri 08.31.2007 4:26 am

Really! Does that not make you have to pay money for your phone? Or can you still get it for free?

Last year I did uni in Japan for a year, and every foreign student I knew (including myself) had an AU phone because they had a student discount of 50%, making it the cheapest phones to get by far. But even then the basic fee was about 1500 yen, if I remember correctly. Softbank is reasonably new though, right?
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Mike Cash » Fri 08.31.2007 5:42 am

It used to be with J-Phone/Vodafone/Softbank that the cost of your phone depended on how long you had used your previous one. The discount maxed out at the two year level. Also, one could combine points saved up from previous bills and maybe luck onto a sale period and make out pretty well. I switched to a newer model after two years and got mine for free like that.

My wife went to change phones the other day and learned that they now make you pay for the phone, but amortize it into your phone bill over a two year period (I think it was two years...). Your basic phone rate counts toward the charge of the phone. This is how they can afford to provide such cheap service rates. If you already have a phone from before the policy switch, you make out like a bandit so long as you keep using it.

Really, there have been no such things as "free" phones. Companies just jack up the basic service fee and add a penalty for early cancellation as a means to make sure they recoup the cost of the phones. Since Softbank changed their way of calculating things, they can get the basic service fee down to what it would be if the costs of providing "free" phones were not hidden in the fee.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 08.31.2007 8:41 am

I would suggest to dehitay to get your decks of cards in the US> take 20 packs or take a few and have the others sent by carepackage.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby JaySee » Fri 08.31.2007 9:53 am

Yeah, Asahi Shimbun actually featured an article last sunday about how people get ripped off by basic fees that are way too high because they need to get the money back from the free phone. Of course getting a 2 year contract is cheaper than a 6 month contract because they can spread the money out over a longer period of time. I really don't know that much about phones though, I (of course) always try to get the cheapest contract but I really cant be bothered researching all these different plans... other people told me AU was pretty cheap relatively so I went with that.
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby gollybype » Fri 08.31.2007 1:44 pm

all i know is that japan is pretty expensive... it's almost same as the u.s... but i got a question... how much it cost with JET??.... it's kinda new to me ehhehe.... :p :p :)
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby keatonatron » Sun 09.02.2007 1:02 am

My experience:


cell phone: I pay about $100 a month. It's with DoCoMo (which has a reputation for being the most expensive) and I use it a LOT. I have the "unlimited internet access" plan which is $30 out of the 100. If you go with AU's student plan (if you can prove you're a student) you can get a basic one for $30 a month or so, and if you get on the same plan with someone else you can also save money. However, when talking to my friends $100/mo sounds pretty normal for medium-heavy use.

high speed internet connection:
About $60/mo. I have fiber optics, 47mb. I think you can get a much slower connection for around $45, but everyone is pushing for fiber nowadays.

transportation:
I live very close to my school, it costs $1.70 each way. However, I also have a student pass that allows me unlimited travel between here and my school for $30 a month. If you know where you will live and go to work/school, you can look up fares (and routes!) at this site: http://grace.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperWeb.cgi

laundry:
I bought a used washing machine for $90. Laundromat usually costs $3-4 per load (including drying).

various cleaning supplies you might have bought:
Three words: hundred yen store. They have all the household products you could possibly need for 100 yen each. Doing the math, I bought dish soap, a sponge, hand soap, window cleaner, bath tub cleaner, and a toilet brush for a total of $6.

plates, bowls, cups:
Same 3 words. A basic plate-bowl-cup-silverware set will cost about $6 per set.

pots, pans, rice cooker:
Except for the rice cooker, same 3 words :D
I haven't bought a rice cooker here before. You actually might want to get one in the states, I have a feeling they'd be cheaper there.

playing cards:
Cheap ones come from the 100 yen store, but they usually don't have the nice smooth coating on them (makes it hard to slide cards off the top). Normal decks are probably $3-4?

gym membership:
EXPENSIVE! (depending on where you go, of course). I recently checked out the only gym in my neighborhood. The normal "go whenever you want" membership like what we have in the states is $90 a month! The cheapest option is $60, which limits you to 8-10 at night. It's a nice gym, but still...
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RE: How much $ should I save for Japan?

Postby Oracle » Sun 09.02.2007 2:51 am

keatonatron wrote:
various cleaning supplies you might have bought:
Three words: hundred yen store. They have all the household products you could possibly need for 100 yen each. Doing the math, I bought dish soap, a sponge, hand soap, window cleaner, bath tub cleaner, and a toilet brush for a total of $6.

plates, bowls, cups:
Same 3 words. A basic plate-bowl-cup-silverware set will cost about $6 per set.

pots, pans, rice cooker:
Except for the rice cooker, same 3 words :D
I haven't bought a rice cooker here before. You actually might want to get one in the states, I have a feeling they'd be cheaper there.


I spent a dark period during my time at university in Japan when I had spent all my monbushou scholarship money one month on partying and had almost nothing left for about three weeks. I ate curry packs + rice from a 100 yen shop for a week or two straight. Amazing that I'm still alive to post about it.. but my point is 100 shops also have food too (mostly chips, biscuits, snacks, but also some basic cooking ingredients) which can help on a tight budget.
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