Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The high cost of living... and moving...
Ok, I am perfectly aware that I have been badmouthing the HR departments of larger corporations earlier, I am not willing to take all of it back, but to some extent I probably should give them a break since the HR department of my new company has proved to be very helpful.
You see, when you move here in Japan, there are a number of costs connected to the whole moving process which include a "thank you fee" which usually is about 1-2 months of rent and this is not refundable, furthermore you also need to put in a deposit in case of damages etc. which usually is around 2 months of rent, finally you also need to put in 2 months of rent in advance. All in all, you can easily end up with having to pay 6 months of rent up front before you move in, granted, as long as you don't wreck the place you are bound to get some of the deposit back at the end of it and the advance rent is not wasted money either, but it's a pretty tough pill to swallow just for a move.
Now, the thing is that I'm not actually moving, since I'm happy where I live, in the ghetto of Ikebukuro as explained in a post way back before. However, in order to rent an apartment here in Tokyo you usually need a "guarantor" person who legally becomes responsible for whatever happens in case you dissappear after wrecking the place and not paying the rent. This has to be someone employed and usually it is family that takes on this part.
However, as a foreigner here in Japan with no family around that can be used as guarantors I have been relying on the companies that has employed me to hire the apartment in my name to go around all that trouble, theoretically this works well, but now when I change jobs for the 2nd time within 2 years the problem that comes up is that the apartment contract needs to be redone and the building company has taken this as an opportunity to hit me with all the fees all over again...
So including the initial payment when I moved in, this will be the third time I pay the "thank you" fees, deposit and everything else. Realizing that this is not ideal in case I once again change jobs in the next couple of years, assuming that I still want to stay in the same place, so this time I tried to have the apartment done on me personally instead of the company and putting the company up as guarantor, which could be changed if/when I change jobs again without. The building management company initially resisted this since they felt that a corporate contract would be safer but after having my new company's HR person playing hardball asking and arguing with them why this couldn't be arranged as a personal contract with the company, a solid company with plenty of cash in the coffers, couldn't be accepted as guarantor instead of a person, the building management company finally relented and the company will be on me personally making things in the future easier for me.
I've lived in Japan now for over seven years, and in all that time I have almost never felt the target of any form of discrimination, but this is one of those cases when it definately would have helped to be completely Japanese... I can also reveal (I promised to gradually lift my veil of secrecy) that I am half-Japanese and has a partially Japanese name, that together with a fluency in the Japanese language has certainly helped in avoiding discrimination I would guess.
Anyway, to sum it up, it's nice to get back into a company with a real functioning HR department that knows what it's doing!