I personally lived in Tokyo and I blast living there, in fact I only bothered to venture outside of Tokyo once – a day trip to Osaka. However, I did notice that Osaka pretty much almost have everything that Tokyo has to offer but at far lower living costs. Which bring me to the one of the most important factors people consider when moving to a Place…
That’s the major benefit of living in a major city in Japan not named Tokyo. Yes, you read that right, major city. A common myth is that rents in Japan are high, in reality they’re pretty much only high in Tokyo(but bare in mind that Tokyo is still cheaper than NYC, San Fransisco and London). I did some research to find out what the typical small flat in the centre of Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo would go for and it’s shockingly cheap. You can easily rent a place in the city centre for below $1000 a month in Osaka and as low as $500 a month in Fukuoka and Sapporo(though it will be small and shabby).
Inaka is basically dirt cheap, I even saw places going for 10,000 yen a month(yes, around $100 a month). However, I personally could never live in Inaka, I would go crazy. I like nature and taking Daily trips to see scenery but living permanently out there would be a big no no, but if you are willing to live in the countryside Japan is dirt cheap. There is massive population implosion going on in Japan, low birth rates and young people are moving to cities so there is glut of dirt cheap & vacant properties. I even looked at small villages outside of Tokyo and Osaka, so not really “in the middle of nowhere” and yet the rents were still very cheap.
Entertainment & Life – Tokyo & Osaka is teh shit.
Unless you hate city life, Tokyo will be a good fit for just about anyone. Also, it’s definitely the most accomodating city to non-japanese speaking foreigners. I choose to study abroad in Tokyo and it was arguably the most fun I have ever had in my life.
I can see a strong case for why someone would want to live in a 2nd tier city like Fukuoka or Sapporo. You basically get all the conveniences of a big city without high costs. Is the city life comparable to Tokyo? No, no city in Japan comes close, not even Osaka but there is definitely plenty of city life to go around outside of Tokyo. I rememer talking to japanese girl who said to me that Fukuoka is awesome since you it’s a fun city without being expensive as Tokyo or Osaka.
So what about Inaka? OK, no matter where in the world I am there’s no way I could see myself living in a small town where everyone knows eachother. But that said, I’ve heard mixed opinions about inaka, but for the most people agree that it’s “boring”. I have zilch experience living in the Inaka and I haven’t had to many encounters with foreigners who shared their experiences living in inaka.
In the end, you’re likely to end up in Osaka or Tokyo for career opportunities anyway. Basically, in the inaka the only real option for jobs is being an english teacher you can basically forget any type of other career. It’s even hard for japanese people to make a career outside of the major cities.