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Complete guide to obtaining a visa to retire in Japan, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

A place where tradition and modernity collide, cherry blossoms cover everything, and history follows you everywhere, Japan is undoubtedly one of the best countries to live in the world.

Offering a great life quality, safety, clean environment, and excellent healthcare services has attracted more than 2 million people to move from across the world and reside permanently in Japan.

Japan makes not only a great place to live but also a great place to retire due to the many benefits pensioners get when reaching the retirement age.

However, unlike most Asian countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, or Cambodia, Japan does not have a retirement visa or program.                                                                                                                           

How Can I Retire in Japan?          

Since Japan does not issue retirement visas, you can find other visa options that can help you retire permanently in Japan.

Citizens of certain countries can enter Japan without a visa for a 90 days stay (short-stay), but to stay longer (e.g., for the purpose of retirement), you need to apply for a long-stay visa before travelling to the country.

Japan offers many types of long stays visas. You can apply for a long stay (D Visa) depending on the type of visa you find more suitable for you. 

After having a long-stay visa for a certain period of time, you can apply for permanent residence if you wish to reside permanently in Japan. Once your permanent residency is granted, you can engage in any activity in Japan and stay as long as you like without any restrictions.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements for Retirement in Japan?

To be eligible for retirement in Japan, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be financially independent and have enough income resources to support yourself and your dependents during the time in which you are in Japan.
  • You must have valid health insurance before traveling to Japan.
  • You must not have a criminal background.

How Much Money You Need to Retire in Japan?

Everyone considering retirement in Japan must be aware of the living costs before moving to the country. Life in Japan is significantly more expensive than in many other countries, but everything depends on your lifestyle and how much you are willing to spend. For example, if you want to rent an apartment in the city center, you would have to spend between $455 to $3410 for rent every month, whereas, for apartments outside the city center, the prices range from $300 to $1900.

Your estimated monthly costs as a single person would be around $1500$2000, including rent; however, many expats tend to spend less.

For a family of four, you can expect to spend a monthly amount of around $3260 without including the rent budget.

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in Japan: 

ACCOMMODATION (rent)Monthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$770
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$480
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$1420
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center $920
ACCOMMODATION PRICE per m2
Price for purchasing an apartment in City Centre$6720
Price for purchasing an apartment Outside of Centre$3815
FOODCOSTS
Milk$1.45
Rice $3.95
Eggs$1.82
Tomato$4.71
Potato$3.40
Apples (kg)$5.51
UTILITIESMONTHLY COSTS (85m2)
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$170

What Is the Duration of a Retirement Visa for Japan?

Long-stay visas are usually issued for a period of 12 months (one year), with the possibility of extending it for another year or more. Usually, the validity of your visa depends on the type of visa you applied for. 

Health Insurance for Retirees in Japan 

Japan’s healthcare system provides many healthcare services, including screening examinations, prenatal care, and infectious diseases control. The patients must accept responsibility for covering 30% of the cost while the government will cover the remaining 70%. Medical services are provided by public hospitals or private hospitals and clinics, with universal access to all patients. Although there is an amount that citizens have to pay, the government has strictly regulated the medical fees to make them affordable for all residents.

In addition, Japan has made it mandatory for all its citizens to have health insurance coverage, and everyone is free to choose physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage. There are eight health insurance systems in Japan and around 3,500 health insurers.

Public health insurance covers most citizens and offers coverage of 70%. The monthly insurance premium is paid per household and scaled to annual income. Two main public schemes are:

  • The National Health Insurance
  • The Employees’ Health Insurance

Public healthcare in Japan covers:

  • Medical check-ups
  • Preventative care
  • Blood transfusion 
  • Injury due to an accident, etc.

Why Should I Retire in Japan?

Here is why you should consider retirement in Japan:

  • Healthcare. Japan provides medical services in public and private hospitals and clinics. The country has an excellent healthcare system with modern medical facilities and equipment and highly qualified staff. Although public healthcare is not entirely free, the cost citizens have to cover (30%) is very affordable. Japan also made health insurance compulsory for everyone.
  • Housing. Despite having a reputation for being expensive, Japan has very affordable housing. Whether you want to rent or purchase a property depends on your decision. However, who would not have his/her own house instead of spending on rent? You can purchase an apartment in or outside the city center for as low as $2,300 per m2 to $11,040 per square meter.
  • Life quality. Japan outperforms other countries in education, safety, and environmental quality and is ranked the best country to live in Asia. The economic development of Japan was accompanied by a rapid redistribution of income. Life in Japan is safe, vibrant, and orderly. Japan is also known for being a very clean country and offers a clean environment and great quality air to all its residents.
  • Safety. Whether you are retiring or just simply visiting Japan, you will not have to worry about something happening to you. When it comes to crimes committed by people, the crime rate is very low, making Japan one of the safest countries to live and visit. Still, there are natural disasters you must be careful of, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc.

What Are The Best Places for Retirees in Japan?

High quality of life, excellent healthcare, and a safe environment are what you will find in almost every city in Japan.
Japan has many great cities that offer great living conditions and are perfect for studying, working, or simply retiring. Here are some of the best places to retire in Japan.

Tokyo

A city that mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, full of nightlife, culture, historic temples, and neon-lit skyscrapers, the capital of Japan will give you the best experience. In Tokyo, you will find a safe environment and everything your heart desires, which explains the high number of expats moving there yearly.

But, life in Tokyo can be expensive, so you will need to set aside a considerable amount of money to spend for a comfortable retirement.

If money is no problem for you, then just enjoy your golden days in one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

Kyoto

Different from big cities, with modern technology, and active nightlife, Kyoto is home to Buddhist Shinto temples, shrines, gardens, palaces, and hiking. With the lowest crime level in Japan, Kyoto is considered to be the safest city. 

Many retirees like a slower pace of life, and Kyoto is the perfect place to have that. The city is also among the cheapest places to rent in Japan, and you can get by with a monthly amount of $1500, including rent. 

Yokohama

Yokohama is the most populous city in Japan, famous for its abundant sightseeing spots and colorful scenery at night. In Yokohama, you can see many beautiful parks and stunning traditional Japanese gardens, and fantastic museums.
Since there are a lot of shopping malls and great restaurants in Yokohama, you will have a great choice for shopping and eating. 

Yokohama also has an excellent healthcare system, and the monthly premiums for health insurance are very affordable. Not just that, every system in Yokohama serves on the benefit of the city’s residents.

Osaka

Holding the reputation of being of the world’s most expensive places to live in shows that not everyone can afford to live in Osaka. But, the city ranks high in housing, business freedom, and healthcare. The Japanese city is both a traditional and modern city, with a great transportation system and the largest metro area after Tokyo.

Osaka is also a very safe city and creates a nice environment for spending your retirement. You can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and some of the best Japanese food. 

Fukuoka

If you feel like your budget is now enough for a comfortable retirement, Fukuoka is a cheaper retirement option. Fukuoka sits on the northern shore of Kyushu Island and is known for its ancient temples, beaches, and modern shopping malls.

The city offers you the same life quality as other big cities but at lower costs. With good food, shopping, culture, great access to green spaces, and a relaxed pace of life, Fukuoka makes a great place to retire.

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