With the new school year starting in April, many teachers looking to leave their present positions are faced with a dilemma - should the job or new apartment/house come first?
If you're looking to move into the Tokyo area in order to teach at a school, it can be especially tricky to decide. Employers like to hear you have a solid plan for relocation, especially if you'll be cutting it close between finishing a contract in your current location and starting a new job, or if they have to act as your guarantor.
However, without a job offer in hand, it can be hard to decide what area to move to, and living in the city centre is an expensive compromise. With many schools being out in the more suburban areas, finding a place within reasonable distance to anywhere is not as practical as it would seem at first.
If you aren't ready to move before having a job offer, researching a bit first can help you in the job interview. If you show you are knowledgeable about the area you want to move to, interviewers will feel more confident about your commitment to moving.
Ask questions about the location and show interest, and prepare a reason for why you want to leave your current location. The last thing an employer wants is to be counting on you, only to have you decide to stay put at the last moment. Be sure you can show that won't happen.
You may also want to check and make sure your new employer would be willing to act as a guarantor for your apartment. You don’t want to be in the situation of assuming they will, then being forced to pay an agency to act as guarantor.
If you do want to have a physical location before job hunting, there are many guesthouses with monthly rent that cater to foreigners looking for a semi-long term stay. Guesthouses are usually fairly centrally located and do not have the heavy start-up costs you would face when renting an apartment.
The downsides to a guesthouse are that the monthly rent is usually a bit higher than a regular apartment in the same area, lack of privacy, and of course, the expense of moving twice assuming you do eventually settle on a place closer to your work.
Unfortunately there is no clear-cut solution, but in either case, research and preparation are definitely necessary. Best of luck with relocation!