These tips will prepare you for a smooth transition from rural to urban living.

One of the best ways for foreigners to experience Japan is to live in the countryside, where lush greenery and numerous historical sites are just waiting to be explored. At some point in time, however, the pull of Tokyo’s bustle may become too enticing for people living in rural Japan to resist.

As a foreigner myself who lived in rural Ibaraki Prefecture before moving to the heart of Tokyo, I can relate to that all too well. But before packing up and bidding farewell to the countryside in favor of the city, here are some advice that may help you with your transition to life in the big city.

1. Get used to public transportation

If you are living in rural Japan, you may very well have a car in order to get to places in a timely fashion. Not only is having one convenient, it may also be necessary as the only mode of constantly available transportation outside of morning and evening commuting hours.

But having a car in metropolitan Tokyo comes with all sorts of hassles, such as having to deal with heavy traffic or prohibitively expensive parking spaces. Using public transportation and commuting by train is thus much more preferable and economical in Tokyo. Not only are trains extremely punctual, they run very frequently throughout the day, too. This naturally leads into the next piece of advice.

2. Familiarize yourself with train route apps

Navigating Tokyo’s labyrinthine train network can be a nightmare for the unprepared, particularly in large stations where changing lines often involves having to wander around cluelessly looking for the right platforms.

▼ Feel like a mouse in a maze?

Smartphone train apps like Navitime Transit offer a wealth of information about surrounding locales, sending commuters to the right places with just a few taps. What’s more, you will know exactly when you arrive at the destination thanks to Japan’s train punctuality. The Navitime Japan Travel app goes even further by telling you which car is the closest to exits or escalators.

3. You can find cheap apartments if you look hard enough

Like most other countries, housing in big cities like Tokyo is generally more expensive and smaller than those in rural areas. However, that does not mean that all apartments will cost you an arm and a leg.

Certain neighborhoods in Tokyo can be quite affordable, and if you don’t mind putting up with some noise, accommodation built next to train tracks are reasonably-priced, too. For the particularly brave and adventurous out there, exceptionally cheap “accident site” rooms that previous tenants have died in are also available.

4. Enjoy what the countryside has to offer

Countryside Japan can be really beautiful, full of gorgeous nature and hidden secrets found nowhere else in the world. And as Tokyo itself has a ton of things to do and distract you from leaving, you won’t know when you will actually return to this part of the country. Because of that, now, before you make the move to Tokyo, is the perfect time to go out there and enjoy the local attractions.

Keep in mind that these tips are also relevant to those moving to large cities like Osaka. As urban life is so drastically different from living in other parts of Japan, we hope these advice will help ease foreigners into a city full of convenience and great food. Just be wary of certain unpopular areas here, and you will do fine.

Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4)

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