In order to apply for Working Holiday Visa you’ll have to present an itinary of your intended stay in Japan which must include the cities and dates of stay, jobs you intend to do and most importantly your budget plan.
Although we like to say money doesn’t bring happiness, it is still essential for our health and well-being and especially during this kind of adventure. A bit of advice for futur WHV holders: don’t be hasty. Even if you had decided to leave with friends all together or you absolutely wanted to be out at a given date (late March / beginning of April for the hanami for example), prefer delay your trip rather than going “too early”.
- First: remember that Murphy is always right and that there’s a high chance something will go wrong at your arrival. So if there is the need to: leave the appartment you booked (roomies or neighbours issues etc…), leave the country, or any other change that must be made, everything can easily be settled if you can afford it. So don’t be stingy when saving your money.
- Second: your budget in Japan can be small and leave you small opportunities to go out. As a WHV holder there is in theory no working hours quota. However the embassy could, and probably will, deny your application if it is too greedy because “the purpose of a Working Holiday Visa is to explore a country and not to work or find a job overseas”.
Following is an example of the monthly budget and expenses for a WHV in Japan. This is only a base to work on, when presenting your file to the embassy make sure to illustrate your estimations with concrete exemples of job and room offers you have found with their links online.
Rent (in Tokyo)
For 4 to 6 beds dormitory the rent is relatively cheap: 25 000 to 35 000 ¥/month but be prepared for a seriously reduced private space and life. However a single room in a guesthouse is worth 45 000 to 70 000 ¥/month. NB: some hostels offer accomodation (in dormitory) in exchange for working hours (mainly cleaning work). Can be an option if you don’t want to spend to much money while looking for a job).
Moving around in Tokyo
Best for a WHV is a Suica or Pasmo Card, they both work like the Oyster Card: you credit your card which will be debited when leaving the subway according to the lenght of your ride. For a month count 15 000 to 25 000 ¥.
Food & other expenses
Living cost in Tokyo is between 30 000¥ and 40 000 ¥/month.
Unless you close your original bank account when leaving, you’ll still pay for your credit card, insurance etc… depending on your contract 20 to 50 €/month (2 800 to 7 000 ¥/month).
In Japan you will need a bank account to register in the job agencies, find a job and salary paiement. In a majority of japanese banks the basic services: opening an account and the debit card are free.
It is not mandatory to have a insurance to apply for a WHV, however it essential to cover yourself during your trip abroad: accident, illness, pregnancy etc… You can find one for 30 to 70 €/month (4 200 to 9 800 ¥/month).
NB: be careful it includes a “liability insurance” which covers you when you have damaged something or harmed someone else and be careful of the exclusions, especially if you plan on doing extreme sports (climbing, scuba diving etc…).
NBbis: some WHV insurance might ask you to pay your fees for the whole year when you suscribe.
NBbisbis: an insurrance will not cover you for common illness and if you need to consult a practisian it can be quite expensive especially if you want to see an English speaking doctor.
Teaching Engligh (or your own language) is the main job foreigners find in Japan. The wage is comprised between 1 000 and 1 800 ¥/h. For waitressing it is comprised between 900 and 950¥/h (or 108 000 ¥/month) for 30h a week, to which you can add extras such as conversationnal classes (not teaching strictly speaking, it consists in talking to a group of Japanese in English) 4 to 10 hours a week. In total your incomes are about 111 600 à 111 800 ¥/month.
Careful however, when I applied for the WHV, I was asked to reduce my working hours to 20h/week. Which is equivalent to 76 000¥/month (without extras). In other words, even if the program you hand to the embassy does not reflect your actual plan in Japan, it has to be financially viable for the consulate: the rent you planned must not exceed the wage you have indicated (which not necessarily the wage you actually plan). You might as well keep a small margin in case you are asked to modify your program.
Following this plan, monthly expenses are up to 100 000¥ and salary is between 100 000 and 110 000¥ for a 30h/week job. In other words, plan your trip keeping in mind that your wage should be just enough to cover your expenses and only your savings will allow you to go out. Hoping of course that you’ll find a better pay.
Although it is not part of your on site budget it definitely represents a big part of your savings. Indeed, a ticket costs 700 to 1500€ (eco class). The choice of the air company is also important, if some of them offer 600 or even 500€ tickets (Qatar Airways for example), its cost rockets when you add extra luggage fees. Generally it’s about 50€ the extra kilo. As an eco ticket includes only a 23kg checked baggage plus a 7kg hand bag, the ticket is not profitable for a one year trip. Personnally I choose the British Airways which proposes a ticket around 900€ and the extra luggage costs 64€.