DH is under some pressure to take a job in Tokyo. I am fairly reluctant about it as is he but because of this and the fact that it is a promotion the package is likely to be a generous one.
We currently live in Singapore and have been here for nearly 5 years. We both feel that we could move but Japan wasn't really an option for us. We have 2 DCs 3 and 15 weeks. So would need to know what there is for the 3 year old in terms of nursery/pre-school and for the baby for Mum and Baby groups. Also I would really like an idea of what life would be like for us and an idea of the expat community. At the moment I work part time (currently on maternity leave) but probably wouldn't look to work in Japan.
Also if anyone has any comments on where to live and what accommodation is like that would be helpful. I've never been to Japan before. We would be able to go on a look-see beforehand but not sure how easy that would be.
Tokyo is a pretty easy place to live with small children. There are plenty of international pre-schools, though if you feel like being a bit more adventurous, quite a few people use the Japanese nursery/kindergarten system - I did, but I was a long-term, Japanese-speaking expat, which made it easier.
The majority of expats are concentrated on the west side of central Tokyo, mainly because most of the international schools are around there. The British school has two campuses - one not far from Shibuya station, and one a little further west from there, so British families are most likely to be found in that general area, ie in Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Meguro-ku etc. And international preschools have also popped up all over that side of Tokyo.
Housing, if you have a generous package, can be pretty good. Either large apartments if you are somewhere more central - some of them have shared facilities like swimming pools - or houses if you are a little further out. Don't expect a garden though - you might get a terrace and a small ornamental garden. Rents are not as bad as they used to be, eg Hong Kong is more expensive these days. I don't know how it compares to Singapore.
There are growing numbers of expat couples where both partners work, but SAHMs are still much more usual (hard to find a job as a trailing spouse unless you have very portable skills or can set up a business; childcare can also be tricky), so there are plenty of mother and baby groups and classes etc going on. If you don't mind being in a totally expat environment, and the company will pay the fees, the Tokyo American Club has swimming pools and lots of activities.
It's definitely worth going for a look around, and maybe asking one of the international estate agents to show you round some typical areas and properties. Does your DH's company have someone in the local office who would be in charge of relocation?
Useful online resources are Being a Broad - magazine/website for foreign women in Japan (discussion board here; Foreign Executive Women - networking group for foreign women ('executive' is a bit of a catch-all title - it's really for any working women); Tokyo Families magazine.
Thanks that is really helpful. Housing in Singapore is pretty expensive but not as bad as Hong Kong.
There would definitely be someone to help with the relocation from DH's office.
Can you ask around in Singapore and see if you can find anyone who has recently moved from Tokyo to have a chat with? I've known quite a few people who have done that move over the years - you could probably get quite a lot of useful info over a coffee.
Feel free to ask me any more questions, but it's a few years since I left, and I wasn't so plugged into the expat scene (lived in a non-expat area, DCs went to Japanese nurseries/kindergartens, and then one of the less expatty international schools).
I hear Tokyo is a lovely place to live with small children.
Have only been on holidays with small children and found it, against all expectations, very user friendly (unless peak hours on public transport).
There are many peaceful parks and community centres/playgroups etc to entertain kids.
restaurants, shops etc are all child friendly.
Help is available just as in HK and Sg but salaries are substantially higher that in Sg. Would still makes sense though as you work part-time. Live out are also more common.
Rents are on par with Sg these days but still really lower than HK and for better quality products.
Have yet to met one expat family who had to say anything bad about it even those who fled after the recent trauma of the earthquake.
Amongst those who have lived and worked elsewhere in Asia too (mainly HK and Sg), most rate Tokyo firmly on top of the list.
Depending on the working environment and level of seniority, learning a bit of Japanese is encouraged.
Tokyo is brilliant with kids. We were there a few years back (we lived in Aoyama Itchome), and had the best time ever. Children are welcome everywhere and there are loads of expat families - it's really easy to make friends.
I remember the forums at gaijinpot were very good but this was a while ago so not sure if they still are! There was a book, 'Japan with Kids' I think (maybe Tokyo With Kids), which was helpful for ideas of things to do. I wish I could go back, honestly, we had a fantastic time and it was a great place to have a young family.
I am considering a move to Tokyo with my employer, an investment Bank at VP level from London, and need to find out what kind of increase I should expect given the higher cost of living, (**excluding accommodation since this would be provided) so just trying to understand what my base salary should increase by? Does anyone work for a bank in Tokyo as an expat on Yen salary who could offer some sage words of advice?
Hi this was my thread and we didn't go in the end. We are still in Singapore but now probably moving to HK. What do you do for the bank as I imagine it varies? Dh works for one and we have a good friend who has just moved there and is also in investment banking but in risk and at Director level but will ask if it would help?
Thanks DDMH, that would be very helpful, I work in Derivative Operations.
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