Full Disclosure

It’s March which means lots of new AETs/ALTs are graduating college and getting jobs in Japan. You may be getting ready to fly out now! But, while there’s lots of vague information out there about the transition, specifics can be hard to come by. So, to let you know what you’re financially getting into, here’s a break down of what I make and what I pay.

I work full time hours as an ALT/AET, but my contract is for gyomu itaku; an  outsourcing or dispatch contract. For this work I make full salary 8 months out of the year, and a reduced salary for four months covering winter break, spring break, and summer break.

Yearly Income: 2,600,000 yen

Rent: 62,000 yen per month

Internet: 6,000 yen per month, paid to two different companies

Smart Phone: 10,000 yen per month

Power, Water, and Gas Utilities: 30,000 per month in winter, 18,000 yen per month in summer

Health Insurance: 15,000 yen per month for 9 months each year

I have never received a raise at any of the places I have worked in Japan. In order to increase my salary, I have had to leverage my experience to get a better job at a different company. Initially, I worked multiple part time jobs to pay the bills, but I prefer one regular job to several more lucrative ones with irregular hours. Also, it is much easier to make ends meet while sharing a living space with someone else.

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  1. We get the same pay but my bills are much lower. 30k yen for utilities in winter!

    Rent: 48,000 yen /month (unlimited internet use included at ~40 mbps, 3 minutes from a subway station, fully furnished, 1K)

    Internet: 0 yen /month

    Smart Phone: 3000 yen /month

    Power, Water, and Gas Utilities: 9000 per month in winter, 7000 per month in summer (Water bill amounting to 3000 yen only paid every two months)

    Health Insurance: 9000 yen/month (second year in Japan), first year should be around 2000 yen/month

    One of the bills that can really come as a shock is the city tax (or residence/gaijin tax). I paid a sum of 53,000 for my first year in Japan. This tax does not exist in my country (Philippines). It’s one of the things to expect many companies will not tell their potential employees about.

    1. I’m a weakling. I need the heater on. And, living in a 2DK that heater has a lot of space to cover. Even when I properly close off rooms and dress all “warm biz” in my own house, there’s only so much I can put up with! That, and I have a propane gas apartment complex. It’s so stupidly expensive to heat water for the shower with propane provided by a tiny company. But, landlord controls that! Not me! I’m working up to move into a smaller place soon. Less square footage means less power consumption.

      You’re right about the city tax. That it’s dispatched like a bill payment to your house is not how we go about local taxes in the US, either.

  2. Oh jeez. I got lucky with my housing so mine isn’t at all normal (your’s seems to be more on average) but for me I pay:

    Rent: 14,000Y/mo about
    Internet: 0 Y/mo
    Smart Phone: 6,000Y/mo about
    Utilities (water/kerosene/electric): 20,000 Y/mo about (winter) 10,000 Y/mo about (summer)
    Health Insurance: 13,000Y/mo? I forget
    Pension: 3,000Y/mo about
    Car Rental: 20,000 Y/mo about
    Gas for car: 6,000-12,000 Y/mo depending on how much I drive (reimbursement for school travels available if I’m not lazy)

    I haven’t had to pay a city tax yet, though, so I’m worried about that. XD (only got here in August)

    Not sure about my yearly income but it sounds like we get paid about the same. I just got lucky with my placement. The biggest problem for me is usually gas, cause my car gets crappy mileage. I also know most of my friends pay about the same in rent as you do, so your’s is more normal. I’m in the middle of nowhere Hokkaido so I ended up with teacher’s housing. I know someone in teacher’s housing who pays only about 5,000 Y/mo

    1. I’ve heard about great teacher housing deals but that’s insane! I guess having to use a car really erases a lot of that good luck, though. I thank my lucky stars for my transportation situation here. I get completely comped for transportation, but even if I wasn’t I can walk home from school on nice days.

      Yeah, I didn’t put my city tax in this post because it’s so irregular. This past year it was four quarterly payments of 34,000 yen UNTIL I realized that I could file an income tax adjustment because my company doesn’t comp my health insurance payments. I was given a tax rebate as a result and my city tax payments were adjusted down.

      So, if your company or agency has you pay for your own health insurance, go to the city office and get proof of payment, and then bring it to the tax office and file an adjustment (the staff basically do it for you) and get some cash back. I got 8,000 yen per year tax rebate and a discount of over 10,000 yen on my 4th quarter city taxes because I filed the adjustment. Your company/agency probably files your main tax return, this is just an add-on you can file anytime.

  3. That cell phone bill is brutal. You can knock that down if you aren’t stuck in a contract. I pay around 2000 yen/month through UQ Mobile. That should save you almost 10 man!

    1. I’m locked in to a Softbank plan. I couldn’t afford a new phone outright when I dropped my 4 year old previous phone when getting off a bus. I’ve heard Rakuten has some great deals just like UQ. And, I know some people who have even cut the internet cord to their house altogether and just used a 5,000 yen Pocket Wifi to do Skype/Line calls on their phone and connect their laptop at home. I don’t think I could ever go that far, personally, though.

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