Best places for expats in Japan

What is the first thing to come to your mind when you think of Japan? The Land of the Rising Sun, isn’t it? And a beautiful picture of the sunrise behind a gate, fascinating in its simplicity and calmness. Ohh,  the colors and the peace. The saying goes that God resides beyond this famous gate at Hakone, Japan. Amazing as it is Japan has many more other attractive cities to offer expats with incredible opportunities. If you are moving to Japan and looking into options for which city to live in, read on. Moving service Japan brings an overview of the best places for expats in Japan. Generally, Japan is a great country! It has rich history and culture, fast and consistent growth in various spheres, and a strong economy. Let’s dive deep together into figuring out which prefecture, city, or place in Japan is best for you.

Best places for expats in Japan
When choosing the place to live in Japan take into account your interests, personality, lifestyle and budget

Best places for expats in Japan

So, what is the best place for expats? There is no precise answer to this question since we all differently define ‘best’. Japan has a considerable share of expats.  As an expat your choice of the city will depend on your personality, lifestyle, and interests, and budget. What is the purpose of your settling in Japan? Is it business or something else? Project cargo, perhaps? Be practical, take into account the cost of living and housing. Also, pay attention to amenities and entertainment opportunities. Are you looking for a peaceful and quiet area or a place with a 24/7 fast-paced life? As can be seen anywhere in the world, most expats gravitate toward the biggest cities in a country. Therefore, Japan isn’t an exception. The greatest number of expats live in the following cities:

  • Tokyo
  • Osaka
  • Nagoya
  • Kyoto
  • Fukuoka
  • Hokkaido


Tokyo is the melting pot of Japan. Locals and expats alike live a fast-paced life during the day and night in the capital city of Tokyo. Tokyo is the place with the most job opportunities, as well as with the highest-paid jobs. On the other hand, since it is the capital, the cost of living is reasonably higher compared to other cities and the housing is quite pricey. Transportation is challenging in Tokyo, people commute to work, shop, or relax. This is a highly populated city, a hectic place with almost 7,000 people on a squared mile. But its positive sides are hard to beat. There are parks and temples around to visit to take a break on a busy day. Tokyo has low crime rates and such an impressive inviting sense of order, cleanliness, and punctuality in its core that you will hardly say no to moving in.

Torii Gate in Miyajima
Land of the Rising Sun and the gate beyond which the God resides


If you find the hustle and bustle of Tokyo too intense opt for “the second Tokyo” as some people call Osaka. It is the second-largest city in Japan. It is one of the best cities in Japan for expats. If you are looking for a more relaxed life, you can find it here. Unlike the Tokyo locals who are traditionally seen as reserved and polite, Osaka locals are said to be friendlier. There is a lot of entertainment in the area and the living is easy. Osaka is the city of food lovers and is well known as  “the nation’s kitchen.” If you decide to move here you can always turn to  Kokusai Express for easier and smoother relocation.


Nagoya is the third-largest urban area in Japan. The place is slower-paced than the other two previously mentioned. It is a trusted expat community. Nagoya is an “easy-to-live-in” city. The people are very helpful and friendly. It has just about everything you might expect and need in a metropolis while retaining a peaceful hometown atmosphere.


Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto remains the biggest Japanese cultural and historic treasure to the present day.  Living in Kyoto means you will be closely connected to nature, history, and culture. Despite being one of the ancient capitals of Japan, the city has up-to-date facilities and is well maintained. There are excellent shopping and dining options. You can have traditional local foods and the traditional dining experience as well as visit modern clubs and bars. Kyoto is much more approachable in size – while still being a city, you can easily cross it in a short time. Naturally, there are downsides to Kyoto city as well. To point out some, there is a huge number of tourists at all times of the year and Kyoto is considered to be hot and humid in summer, and very cold in winter.

Cherry blossom in front of the Japanese temple
Kyoto – the place where nature and history meet


Being Japan’s gateway to the continents, Fukuoka is a perfect destination for expats. Fukuoka is the fastest-growing city in Japan outside of Tokyo. It is among the best metropolitan cities in Asia with excellent quality of living. In the economic sector, Fukuoka has a reputation as Japan’s “startup city.” The cost of living is low in Fukuoka which is an important factor when deciding where to live. Fukuoka is famous for its food and convenience of living. Shopping and leisure activities are mixed in one block shopping mall. Fukuoka has the shortest commute time of any city in Japan and rents are lower than in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities.


Lastly, if you are a nature lover, you can look no further than Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. Housing is cheaper here than in the metro areas, and you can also enjoy hill-walking, skiing, or white-water rafting. You will have a large expat community here – around 10,000 expats live in Sapporo. Sapporo is still a relatively young city, it was built with a rectangular street system, based on a North American style. Thus, getting around the city becomes easier compared to other Japanese cities.

Moving to Japan is challenging. Still, once you know why you are moving to Japan, what you expect your life to be like there and you know your budget, it will be easier to choose where to live in Japan. We hope that you will find this article about the best places for expats in Japan useful while making this decision. Once, you make up your mind and choose a city to live in Japan you can always contact us for professional relocation help.

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