by Ewa Nowogorski
An expat is a person who lives outside their native country, and there are currently an estimated 2.93 million expats living in Japan, which makes up roughly 2.3 percent of the population.
Expats come to Japan for different reasons. Some come to find better work, and others come to experience the fantasies they had of Japan while growing up.
But for whatever reason foreigner decides to come to Japan, the true question is, “Are they happy there?”
InterNations does annual surveys to judge which countries are the best and which countries are the worst for expats to live in in terms of financial stability, social satisfaction, and overall quality of life. It found that in 2021, out of 64 countries surveyed, Japan was #39 for best place for expats to live in. So it wasn’t the worst, but it definitely was not the best either. For the record, Taiwan was ranked #1, and Kuwait was ranked #64.
Japan used to rank lower on that list, but it has in recent years slowly and ever so slightly climbed the ranks. The standard of living in Japan is high, and good health care and educational facilities are available, but Japan falls short in some areas, which makes it an undesirable country for expats to live in.
Firstly, the language barrier and limited job availability makes it incredibly difficult for non-fluent speakers of Japanese to make friends and get a good job in Japan. If you cannot speak Japanese, you will be limited to English teaching jobs and making friends with other foreigners like yourself.