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Okinawa, Japan

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 10, 2023

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Okinawa, Japan: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know before moving to Okinawa?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Okinawa, they said:

"Okinawa, is a tropical paradise with a unique culture that blends Japanese and American influences due to its history as a U.S. military base. Before moving to Okinawa, expats should be aware that the local language is Japanese, although English is widely spoken due to the American military presence. However, learning some basic Japanese phrases can be beneficial for daily life. The cost of living in Okinawa is relatively high, especially when it comes to housing and imported goods. Expats should also be aware that Okinawa has a subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters, and it is prone to typhoons between June and November. Okinawa's cuisine is unique and heavily influenced by its history and geography, with a focus on seafood, pork, and local vegetables. The island is also known for its longevity, which is often attributed to its healthy diet and lifestyle. Driving is the most common mode of transportation in Okinawa, and expats will need to obtain a Japanese driver's license. The island also has a public transportation system, but it is not as extensive or reliable as in other Japanese cities. Healthcare in Okinawa is of a high standard, and expats will need to enroll in the national health insurance system. Education options for expat children include international schools and local Japanese schools. Okinawa has a slower pace of life compared to mainland Japan, and the local people are known for their friendly and welcoming nature. The island also has a rich history and culture, with many festivals, historical sites, and natural beauty to explore. Finally, expats should be aware that Okinawa has a significant U.S. military presence, which can influence the local culture and politics. This can also lead to occasional tensions between the local population and the military community," wrote a member in Okinawa.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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