Sorry for my long hiatus, when uprooting your life (after taking quite a while to establish it), it is quite a stressful time and writing and blogging (even though I do love doing it) did fall be the wayside. But I’m Back!
Anyway, when preparing to leave Japan, one does need a checklist or an escape list that one needs to go through and I thought that for people in a similar situation, it may be helpful to go through my provisional one.
Money means everything and nothing and this is the case when preparing to leave.
The main money worries that I am facing is an income in the UK (i.e. I need to find a job). But not being able to walk into a job upon my return does not mean that my money issues are just starting- I still have bills that I am paying (a credit card for example- hint for those leaving the UK, pay off your credit card before leaving) and I will be facing bills after I set up a new place to live.
After establishing myself, there are further bills to consider: rent, council tax, water rates, gas, electricity, food, and internet- these are the essentials. Following this, there is gym membership, insurance, buying a car etc- all of which I need to do seemingly yesterday but without the cash to do it.
Once I have set all of this up, even if it means getting a job that I need and do not necessarily want, I then will start to think of longer term ideas and plans- which again require money.
The leaving checklist
Once I have learnt just how much I have to do once I arrive- let’s consider leaving Japan. Now remember: just because you can jump on a plane and leave doesn’t mean things won’t follow you if unprepared. Starting from the top: apartment.
Firstly is your apartment company leased or self leased? Did it come furnished or all self furnished and what about utilities? These are the first questions that you need to ask. If your answers were mostly company provided- rejoice your life is suddenly much easier. Here’s a quick OMG please help me guide:
- Inform the company (if not already) of your intention to resign (if not already done so)
- ask the company if you will need to pay a termination fee for the apartment or utilities
- be prepared to pay the final bills on move out day in cash
- Ask the company about the provided furnishings: are they to say for the next person or are you to get rid of them?
- Ask about leaving anything for the new person e.g. rice cooker, cleaning supplies etc
- get rid of things early that are not wanted
- Contact the housing company about your intention to move- there may be a contract cancellation fee (usually 30,000 JPY) and a closing fee and cleaning fee (an extra 20,000 JPY+)
- Contact the utilities companies (there may be a cancellation fee in addition to the final bills)
- Internet: there may be 2 companies to contact if you have fibre. You will need to contact the line holder (e.g. NTT) and the ISP (e.g. AU) to cancel. There may be termination fees for both contracts.
- Find out how to get rid of everything that you do not want to keep- follow local garbage regulations- if you do this wrong, you will be fined!
- Clean the apartment to perfection to reduce the change of getting charged an extra cleaning fee
- Hold a “sayonara” sale either on Facebook or on other apps to help provide a little extra money for your journey back
- Sell things to a second-hand store e.g. Hard-off (for electronics), book-off (for books, CDs, and DVDs), Off-House (for anything household) or another thrift store.
- If all else fails, try giving things away to friends, colleagues, acquaintances etc.
- If that fails, bin it!
- Regarding apartment cleanliness: would you be happy to move back in if you walked in now? No, get back to cleaning! Yes, go for a walk and ask the question again? No, clean and yes move on.
Finally, ask your company the following questions:
- When is my last work day?
- What items do I need to return?
- How much vacation time do I have and how/ when can I use it?
- Is there anything that I should focus on during these last months?*
*The usual resignation period is 3 months notice. Contract termination must be at least 1 month prior- unless other arrangements have been made (severance package etc).
City halls or 市役所 are at the heart of every Japanese town and city that there is a lot you must do there. Firstly, you must give your moving notification at least 1 month before moving (I’ve not yet done this), additionally you must cancel your “my number”, your health insurance, your pension plan and find out how much tax you owe. Finally, you need to get the forms to appoint a tax representative. To put it another way:
- Moving out notification
- cancellation of health insurance
- cancellation of pension plan (KEEP THE BLUE BOOK)
- appoint a tax representative (a native who you trust or a tax lawyer)
- cancel your “my-number”
- find out how much tax you owe- if possible
- get extra paperwork to apply for a police certificate (better to have it…)
Note on tax, if you’re staying in Japan for 1 year or less, your tax rate is set at 20%, if you stay longer than 1 year, your tax rate is set at 8%. Please set up a way to pay- it will follow you no matter where you go.
A police certificate is proof that you were very good during your stay in Japan. If you are looking to go into a job which requires the handling of certain data, it is a very good thing to get before you leave.
Now you have some idea of what you need to do- what about sending things back? Japan post have a few different options and to keep costs down, start ASAP!
The most cost effective way to ship thing back to your country is via surface mail i.e. ship. A typical box will set you back 5000 JPY and takes at least 2 months to get there- but during your move out process, it’s nice to have the extra space.
If you have the money, or need to have these things back with you, a typical box via airmail will set you back 13,000 JPY- this is for the cost effective solution. If you want it to send a lot back, it may be cheaper (depending on how much you want to send back) to get a company ship everything back to you. Typical prices are 4000 USD+ and while there are many options, please do some careful research and do it ASAP.
Fun fact: even though airplane is spelt aeroplane in British English, Airport is still airport not Aeroport (like in French).
Moving on, you need to book your trip back and I highly suggest you do it sooner rather than later. Even though there is little evidence to suggest that you get a better price, it does allow one to plan one’s life that bit more.
Please get the best flight you can! I say this because even though there are some extremely cheap flights to the UK- they have downsides e.g. 35 hours journey time or self transfers (think arriving at London City and the next flight leaving from Heathrow) or airline companies which offer no baggage etc.
Once checked in there is security and immigration. When leaving, Japanese immigration officials will ask are you sure you want to leave? This will be asked multiple times before the visa is cancelled- at thing point Japan has washed its hands of you.
Quick note, don’t forget that you may have to stay at a hotel for a few nights and that you still need to travel to the airport- budgeting is key!
Finally, healthy living
Just because I’m leaving does not mean that any current resolutions/ plans have stopped- it just means that I have to be more aware of everything I do and be aware how much time I have to do it in.
2020 is a leap year which has given me an extra day in Japan and I simply cannot waste it. Simply put, a usual New Year’s Resolution puts pressure on one to start on 1/1 and while may fail (doing too much too soon), you have to realize that it is a marathon (not the chocolate bar) not a race.
But there is still a lot I want to do before I leave, so perhaps time management has become even more important than before- including making time for blog posts (and I do have a lot to post). What I am trying to say here: life does continue even though are leaving. You still need to clean, to cook, to work, to live: it does not matter the eventual outcome- life continues regardless.
Thank you for being so patient with me. As always: thank you for reading and happy exploring.