Been here for 2.5 years. Looking to relocate back to Seattle for family reasons (better support network for our kid).
(About to go to sleep, so I'll answer in 8 or 9 hours)
EDIT: Got a lot of responses. Thanks!
Here's a more easily accessible format in case you want to reference it later.
Been here for 2.5 years. Looking to relocate back to Seattle for family reasons (better support network for our kid).
- Oracle FeenansYou gaijin? I heard japanese can be racists towards non japanese living in japan. True?
I had the best resume a realtor had ever seen.
N1 fluency in Japanese.
I studied at the "Harvard of Japan" for a year.
5 year visa (longest duration).
High paying job at a huge company.
Stable work history.
5/6 landlords didn't give a shit. "no gaijin".
You will also not receive service at probably 95% of "adult... services", if you're into that.
When I was in college, a few part time jobs I applied to straight up told me they didn't hire foreigners.
But once you're settled in, it's not that noticeable. Your average encounter will be pretty friendly. I'd say it's more rare to experience it.
Flagged by the community.
- I do not wish I was Japanese. Having experienced both countries, I am so glad I was educated in the US (for HS and college at least) and also that I didn't have to work at Japanese companies.
I am as assimilated as I want to be, and I like that I am different (for the most part). TBH, there's a bit of a celebrity status, especially since I can speak the language. It takes a lot to learn the language and I don't think I'd be nearly as good at English as I am at Japanese if I was born Japanese.
God, English is a Trainwreck of a language. I am so thankful that I didn't had to learn it as a second language.
Tomb, comb, bomb. Why don't any of these rhyme!?Jun 25, 20182
- @cayde-6 this is one of the best non-sensationalist Blind threads, hands down! kudos + thanks for taking time to write such specifics
- That was fast. Okay, a few answers before I go to sleep.
Hours are super normal like they were in Seattle. Wfh is like Seattle.
Pay is terrible. SDE I initial offer was 7.5M yen w/5k USD stock per year. I negotiated up to 8.25M.
Currently SDE II and at 9.68M and 15k USD/year (~105k total?).
This is offset by affordable housing. Think 1.5k USD for a decent apartment, but smaller. Also health insurance is part of taxes, so you don't need to pay extra for it. Don't need a car, either. It's a very livable salary, tbh.
Yes, Amazon Tokyo.
- Many people can get by without cars in Seattle, but you are pretty constrained to Seattle area.
Personally for me, none of my friends and family live in the city. Either east side, north side, or Renton area. When I lived there, I felt like I *needed* a car a few times a month, but that was just me.
In Tokyo, trains take you literally anywhere in the country (of the 4 main islands).
- I heard it was easy to internally transfer to Japan (or anywhere with the pay cut) but extremely hard to transfer back to the US so people might get stuck overseas. Is this true?
Oh and supposedly transferring to tends to be a promotion +1 level or potentially 2 whereas from leads to a demotion?
- I don't think this is true. I interviewed last week with a team in AWS in Seattle and I believe I'll be getting an offer by EOW. I'll update the thread in a few hours, I have a chat with the manager soon.
I also don't think the promotion demotion part is true, either. I don't know anyone that transferred above their level, and I can tell you right now if the offer that I get is for L4 SDE, I'm interviewing at Google.
- Got it. I was kind of hoping the 50% pay cut was mitigated with a title bump or something but that doesn’t sound like the case. True that Tokyo might not be as expensive as Seattle these days but still not 50% cheaper.
Did you consider internally transferring to Amazon or did you straight up just interview externally? Was there friction? Would love to see if Google tried to low ball...
- Talked with the manager, but he was only answering questions I had about the team. Results come tomorrow.
Exactly. After a certain point, cost of living doesn't really matter. When the difference is 200k and 100k, even if cost of living is higher in Seattle, it won't be 100k more. Maybe 10-20k? It's a huge difference in total comp
I only considered interviewing internally. At the time I was a QAE I and there was a lot of friction because of that. Even though I built out extensive automation infrastructure, people see "QAE" and think "test monkey". My first position interview was really shitty, but I only had 1 SDE interview and 1 manager interview. Didn't click with either person. And the SDE definitely looked down on me because I was a QAE. eventually I found a team that I clicked with, and the manager took a chance on me. Now I'm SDE II, so suck it, other managers who turned their noses down on me. :p
This time around, I miiiight interview externally, but I really like the team I've interviewed with. I don't think I'll need to get an external offer. Contractor to FTE, I negotiated +10k base. Tokyo transfer I negotiated +10% base of their offer. This time around, I'm hoping for 145 base and 55k RSU. We'll see if I can pull it off. I think I'll get close.
- What made you move to japan for an engineering role? Never heard that before.
- @Trillion I've wanted to live in Japan since I was a teenager. Spent a year there in University and 2 exchanges in highschool. Originally I just wanted to live in Japan. So after I graduated, I did a few interviews for English teaching. After one of the interviews, they asked me to prepare a lesson plan. My immediate reaction was, "I don't care about a lesson plan, I just want to live in Japan!"
Then I realized I needed to calm the fuck down and get there by doing something that I like, and with a marketable skill. I just didn't know what that skill would be...I landed a shit temp job testing Japanese games. Ended up getting an automatable task and googled how to automate it. Then found what I wanted to do. Got into Amazon as a contractor, interviewed and got FTE, then made my way to Japan internally.
@Natureman: pussy != Life. You seem pretty obsessed. Has it been a while?Jun 25, 20182
- The reason i asked was ive been obsessed with japanese martial arts since teenage and wanted to learn it first hand living in Japan, but i never thought it was practical. Im a sde 2 in Amazon im just wondering how easy will it be for me to transfer to Japan for a 3 years period as a sde 2, and then come back to the states. I dont speak any japanese too. Also if you wanted to live in japan why u wanna come back to US now
- Not an issue at all for work. Most of the engineers are foreigners. You'll also be able to get by out in the real world. But I'd suggest taking Japanese classes. Amazon will pay for it here.
That would probably equate to maybe 9.5M-110M yen and about 15-20k in RSUs per year? I have zero knowledge of the pay bands here, but I believe 200k is just above middle for US? I make about 9.5, but that's after a 10% raise from promo to L5. Not sure what it would be exactly. Whatever they offer you, negotiate for more.
It is plenty to live on. You can get a nice place for 150,000/month and a nicer place for 200,000/month. If you want to live further from work or get a smaller place you could get rent as low as 80,000/month, with a 30 minute train ride. Restaurants are very cheap for lunch. Maybe 700-1100 for lunch? Very cheap compared to Seattle. Amazon will pay for your daily commute fees. Spending power is low, though. Media is really expensive. Do some searches on Amazon Japan for common stuff.
FYI, my take home is about 600,000/month to give you an idea about taxes. No need to pay for health insurance plans. The government has you covered.
In a month, I spend 144,000 on mortgage, 36,000 on maintenance, about 15,000 on electric + gas (total), about 3,000 on water, about 5,000 on internet, about 80,000 on food for 2 adults, 60,000 for "allowance" for myself and wife, 3,000 on phone (LINE mobile!!! If you go through SoftBank or docomo, or other big players, expect 10,000/month), about 150,000 on miscellaneous stuff, and try to save the rest.
Let me know if I'm missing anything expense you are thinking of.Jun 26, 20181
- Yup! I just applied.
Visa was taken care of by a company hired by Amazon. Mine was tricky because I didn't major in CS. There is a law that a work visa applicant must have a degree related to the field of work, or have 10 years experience.
Since I am majored in Japanese, they added "required to translate Japanese in addition to coding" to the job description, and boom. Visa.
They'll figure it out, whatever the case is.
- This is the best thread I’ve read in Blind ever. Thanks a lot for taking the time.
My wife and Iove Japan very much, we’ve always talked about “living there for some years”. However we have 2 kids (less than 3 years) and I’m concerned it would be hard for them.
Since you mentioned that your kid was one of the reasons to move, do you think moving there is a bad idea ?
It depends. The reason we are really looking forward to the US is that my mom and sister will be 30 minutes away by car, and we'll have a lot of (my) friends around as well. We don't have that kind of support network in Tokyo. If you are already doing parenting on hard mode instead of support network mode, I think it won't be much different.
I know someone who went from Tokyo to Seattle, but moved back for the same reason: lack of support.
I think it would be harder on you than them. Just make sure you bring English books and media. Netflix and Hulu and Amazon have a decent amount of kids programming here that is in English as well.Jun 28, 20181
- What are some must visit places for tourist in Japan if I can plan a visit for 1 week?
- Life size Gundam
Katsu Midori sushi in Meguro. Not super fancy, but the absolute best conveyor belt sushi I've ever had. Even better than some sit down places I've been. They are a small chain, but the one in Meguro is the only conveyor belt one, so they get the same source as the sit downs, but at conveyor belt prices.
Ghibli Museum (must obtain tickets about a month in advance)
Taiwan Maze Soba (a Japanese creation, despite the name)
- American internet. God, Japan is so technologically behind it drives me nuts sometimes. It's like the internet from 10-15 years ago. Apps suck. Japanese websites suck. Internet banking and apps suck. One of my banks *prevents* you from using special characters in your password.
Streaming services exist, but they're not anywhere near as ubiquitous as they are in the US.
I also miss how cheap Blu-rays are. 35 bucks for Zootopia? Come on.
- Google meui601. Do you know if unvested stocks earned in the US keep vesting in the US? 2. Understand that salary is lower, but are savings about the same in terms of dollars?
- GREAT question!! Yes!! Stock that was granted in Seattle continues to vest at the agreed to schedule. It will still be 100% taxed by the US, but you'll get some of it back. Taxes are such that the fraction of time spent in a country during a vest will determine how much tax goes to that country.
Example: you have a 2 year vest and transfer with the last year vesting while you are in Japan. Once it vests, US takes the usual tax rate, but should return about half of that back because half of it was "earned" in Japan. Japan will then apply their tax rate to the other half.
2. No, savings is still less. Because cost of living isn't toooo drastically different, but you make a lot less,you really end up taking a bath on savings.
Like, currently for my family of 3, we end up saving about 700 USD a month in cash. In Bellevue, it would he about the same (after 3k rent and a 1k car payment...Tesla, baby), we would end up saving about the same in cash (except we'd also pad our "allowance" by an additional total of 700 bucks). Then you look at stock. 15k gross value in the RSUs in Japan vs 30-50k in the US. Pretty big difference, IMO.
- It started with martial arts when I was in elementary school. Always liked Japanese food, and in high school, anime, judo, and Japanese language. But when I started studying the language, I got super into it. I've been aiming to live here since I was a teenager been 10 times before moving including a few study abroads (1 year in college, 2 weeks, and another 2 weeks in HS).
I've always liked the craftsmanship that is in Japan. Watch Jiro dreams of sushi. Perfectly captures the "shokunin" spirit. That guy is like 90 and he still chases perfection. There are LOTS of examples of this, but I love that about Japan.
And Tokyo is just super convenient. Trains go everywhere in the country. Don't need a car. I live 5 minutes from Meguro station. So 5 minutes away from 5 grocery stores, 2 or 3 clinics, a few dentists, a mall, transportation of course, and dozens of restaurants. Love the convenience here.Jun 26, 20182
- Did you start working in Japan after graduation or moved from Seattle? Is it easy to get permanant residence if you wanted?
- I transferred internally after a few years at Amazon in Seattle.
PR is very attainable under certain circumstances. There is a point system. You get points for age (younger is better), salary, work experience, and Japanese ability. 80 points means that you only have to live in Japan for a year to get PR. 70 points, 3 years.
- How comfortable is your life there compared to Seattle? Does money go further?
- Very comfortable. If you buy a place (and have permanent residence), you're looking at interest rates as low as 0.495% (mine).
I have a 500k USD condo and I pay about 1300/month. 33 year loan. Plus about 350/month in maintenance for the building.
Groceries are a bit more expensive, but worth it.
Restaurants are much cheaper. Like, 800-1000 yen for lunch. Monthly grocery budget for 2 adults is about 800 bucks (my situation, not counting baby expenses).
Convenience stores are AMAZING and have great food (for a convenience store). I regularly get a crispy lettuce sandwich, onigiri and can Coffee for breakfast at the shop outside work.
Spending power is pretty low, though. Most consumer goods are really expensive. New release 4k Blu Ray is about 65-80 bucks. Old Blu Rays (Disney and marvel as examples) are 35-40 bucks.
But Netflix and Hulu are here and have American and some Japanese content.
Internet speed is awesome. Gigabit in most places. But apps and Japanese webforms are fucking terrible. Most things feel like the state of the internet 10 or 15 years ago. One of my banks prevents you from using special characters for your password. Swear to God.
A lot of foreigners find it difficult to get a credit card. Especially if you are under 30. Just got to UFJ Mitsubishi. Open an account and you can get a debit card you can use online.
All in all, I love it here (aside from work - projects I don't want to work on and a low salary compared to the US).
We live 5 minutes from a major train station, which means 5 minutes to dozens of restaurants, a handful of grocery stores, some pharmacies, a few clinics, and a mall.
- Do you have any take on how big the cryptocurrency craze is or was there compared to United States? Do you own any bitcoin personally?
- Boeing / OpsAirbusIs amazon japan mostly for SDEs? Or is there place for us non engineering muggles?
- Facebook / EngTCYOEVisiting Japan soon, what do you recommend doing at night that is friendly to gaijins in Tokyo/Shibuya? I’ve heard a lot of bars/clubs are no gaijins.
- I would say that's probably rarer. Shinjuku has a good bar scene where you can do some serious bar hopping. If you are super concerned about getting turned away (a really terrible experience. It's really a shitty feeling), then stick to Roppongi! You may also find some ladies (or men) there that are very into foreigners.
Shibuya also has quite a few clubs that are foreigner friendly. There's even a soapland that caters specifically to foreigners, if you want that experience. It's in Kawasaki, I think it's called paradise inn.
The most tourist-ey thing is "robot restaurant" (also in Shinjuku). I took my American boss there on a business trip (before I moved here) and he fucking loved it.
Sky tree or Tokyo tower are also great at night.
- Microsoft / EngVlCX25The idea of working abroad is pretty novel. Sounds like you have no regrets about the time you spent there?
- Yes!! I'd definitely do it again, but I might have waited until I had been SDE II for a year or more. The 2 rounds of paycuts was rough. First was base pay, then a surprise paycut when my Seattle stock vests ended. Went from expected value of 30k/year to new grants at expected value of 5k.
There is a lot to love about Tokyo and we'll definitely be back. I'd like for my kids to spend a good amount of time in both countries.
The positives far outweigh the negatives. Once we are done having kids and the youngest is about 4 or 5, I think that's when we'll come back.
- Do you know any Japanese? How essential is it in your wok and your daily life?
- I am N1 level fluent.
But I was dismayed that all that studying didn't mean anything for work, haha. Most engineers are foreigners. Everyone speaks English at the office and they have to know it because the code base is in English.
Daily life, I use it all the time. My wife doesn't speak English as well as I speak Japanese.
I also know several people who don't speak at all, and they seem to get by. Companies will often pay for Japanese classes as well, and let you attend during work hours.
- Sapient Razorfish JustDGAFmoreDo you like cost of living in Tokyo better than the states?
My total taxes are about 25% of my gross monthly salary and that includes health insurance. Clinics are insanely cheap because the government regulates the cost of medicine and pays 70% of your medical bills.
I was once in the hospital for a week in a private room and it costed about 2500 USD. I opted for the fancy private room, though.
My wife gave birth and it costed 2k or so. She had a private room in a hospital with amazing food for a week. I was allowed to stay in the room as well and got food.
Rent is reasonable (1.5k or so) for a 700sqft place.
Things that annoy me:
Albums are like, 30 bucks.
New release 4k Blu Ray movies range from 60-85 bucks.
Old Blu Ray movies cost about 35-40 bucks.
Food is a bit more expensive, but the quality is worth it. Our monthly food budget for 2 adults is about 800 a month.
Restaurants are very cheap. Like, 8-10 bucks for lunch. Usually under 1000 yen.
- Amazon A SaintDo you know anything about salaries and hours at other tech companies, like Google and Microsoft?
- Similar to Amazon as described above. Most US companies bring the US work culture. You might get very unlucky and have a boss that is not about that, though. I know a UX designer who had a Japanese boss once and he asked how he could know that the designer was doing his job if he was working from home. He moved teams.
I think Google pays more than Amazon, but perhaps not by much. I believe starting TC is 10.5M yen.
- Expedia gurgleSo if you don't speak any Japanese, could you still make it in terms of acquiring a visa?
If so, how long would it take to acquire intermediate level proficiency in Japanese you think?
- LinkedIn datamlHow is the dating scene for internationals? Are Japanese women open to dating guys from other races?
- Amazon os360Do you know anything about roles in other parts of East Asia? Like Seoul, Taipei, Singapore.
- Microsoft I’mSo’n’SoAwesome information OP. Thank you all for asking good questions and for OP taking the time to answer them. I didn’t have Japan as a potential place to go and work but now I feel excited about exploring opportunities there.
It will be cool if some of us find a way to stay connected online (not sure how) and then meet up in person in Japan and have some saki and toast to OP (in spirit) 😊
OP. How do the taxes work for US citizen? Do US citizens pay taxes twice for income earned in Japan (once in Japan and again in US)?
- My pleasure!
Wrt staying connected, maybe I'll replicate this on Reddit and post it to hacker news. Got way more responses than I was expecting and I know that there are a lot of tech workers interested in this.
Taxes are relatively simple. You pay taxes to Japan, you report income to the US. I think once your income exceeds a certain amount (100 some odd thousand), you will be taxed on the difference of that minus taxes to Japan. So, like if it was 100k and you made 110k, they'd tax you if the taxes you paid to Japan on that 10k were less than the US would have taxed. But it's the diff. So if the US would have taken 3k of that, but Japan took 2k, you'd owe the US 1k. So it's not that bad.
Stock is way more complicated because it depends on where you were for the duration of the vest and where it was granted. For example, I had a 4 year vest and moved to Japan in year 3. The third year, I had "earned" that 2 years in the US and 1 in Japan. So the US took more taxes. I mean, the second it vests, the US takes their full tax rate, but they'll give a bunch back at tax season. And Japan will take some of that. You usually come out on top somehow. Like, last year, I had 60k or something vesting. I got back 12k from the US and had to pay Japan 5k. The US had initially taken about 16k of that 60k. The percentage of tax paid depends on how long you were in a given country during the vest. Negotiate a tax accountant into your contract. Amazon uses Deloitte and I don't have calculate all this shit. I only know it because I want to know how it works, so I ask my accountants a bunch of annoying questions.
Once you start getting grants in Japan, no money is taken at vest, and you pay Japan for taxes on the vest value in January.
- Apple magikarp16How do you feel about "Cool Biz" campaign and what is the general public opinion about it?
- Hard to tell because I work at a US company. I'm shielded from a lot of stuff like that. 28 C is a terribly hot temperature, though, Jesus.
I don't really hear it being brought up that much on the morning talk shows, but I don't watch every day. Wish I could be of more help.
It's definitely not 28 degrees in my office. We absolutely have AC because we don't want our employees to needlessly suffer in order to scrape a bit off of our electric bill.
- Amazon / EngAhulnighHow are the various teams in Amazon japan? Mostly interested to know about AWS, Search, etc.
- I don't know much about AWS, but there is a huge consumer tech team and search, search ops, search latency, and a few Kindle projects. I think AWS is mostly solution architects.
Amazon points is a thing in Japan, so the points team exists. Fashion, iPhone app, and intech (they handle jp-specific business requests). Also Alexa mobile app.
Personally, I really want to get into ML. Part of the reason for the move (along with the other reasons I listed initially).
Amazon JP said they'd be hiring 1,000 more employees (at some point). Might be a bunch of new positions in the next year or so. Keep your eyes peeled on jobfinder if you're interested.
- Amazon lGYd23Thanks OP. Most informative post I’ve read in blind. I am considering to move to Japan a few years later but worry about the pay cut and possibility of transferring back to US, since I am not a US citizen. But after reading your post, I now have more information for making a decision on this move.
- All: thanks for the good questions and kudos!
I copied this into a Reddit post.