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View Full Version : Cars, driving and do you really need 'em?



bwhat87
October 11th, 2012, 14:23
I'm probably getting WAY ahead of myself here seeing as how I'm still only applying, but the post about the Japanese driving test kinda scared me a bit SO...do you really need a car in Japan?

I'm guessing the answer is gonna be "depends on where you're stationed" but, as an overall answer, yes or no?

PS. I hope this hasn't been answered already a million times, sorry if it has :(

zero
October 11th, 2012, 15:03
Yes.
All JETs or Interacs need a car.

word
October 11th, 2012, 15:09
Yes.

Without a car, my life would be never-ending hideous montage of burning rice husks, sneering obaasans, and alcoholism. I probably would've offed myself by now, were I car-less.

MJN
October 11th, 2012, 15:29
Yes. Owning a car is the only reason I haven't killed myself.

therealwindycity
October 11th, 2012, 16:35
It's not as bad as it seems, I promise. Cars are relatively cheap here, and learning to drive on the opposite side of the road takes all of a day to get adjusted to. The driving test was pretty crappy but it was still worth the freedom of being able to go where I want to when I want to. If I had to rely on my local trains and buses I would never stay until the end of an event, never see any nature, and be poor.

Antonath
October 11th, 2012, 16:39
No. I've managed quite well without for the last three years. Sure, it would be nice, but overall, I've done without.

Cytrix
October 11th, 2012, 17:45
Yes yes yes. Despite being close to the largest city in my prefecture (half an hour via car) I have zero train stations and only 1 crappy bus every hour. So even if you aren't completely in the inaka, public transport isn't easy to come across

It also prevents you from being that annoying person everyone has to pick up.

coop52
October 11th, 2012, 17:49
Get your international permit so at least you have the option. I don't have a car, but there are times where I wish I had my license so I could at least rent one every once in a while for trips and Costco runs.

Gizmotech
October 11th, 2012, 20:45
YES. Get a car.

If I didn't live a 15 minute walk from work, in an okay sized city I would buy one in a heart beat. I'm the only ALT in my valley w/o one.

lilyanphino
October 11th, 2012, 20:49
It depends on where you are placed. I don't need one since I live in a city with good public transportation.

bwhat87
October 12th, 2012, 00:18
So, general consensus is bite the bullet on the crappy driving exam and get a frakkin car then eh? WindyCity said that cars are pretty cheap, how cheap we talkin? I'm very much the broke college student and, assuming I get accepted (knock on wood) I'll prolly be able to scrape together the recommended 2 grand, but just barely, not a small part by selling my current car. Disposable income is something of a premium ya know?

Page
October 12th, 2012, 15:43
I don't think they're super cheap but here's what you need to know

200000 yen is usually about the cheapest you'll find without it being un-inspected, or 100k+, you're more likely to come upon 300000.
You'll have to pay a few hundred for name changes and paperwork--the tax may need to be updated which is 4 man (about $350) for white plates or less than $100 for a yellow. Taxes are paid every year.

If the car has been inspected recently--great! If not it's usually around $1000 plus or minus depending what has to be fixed so it'll pass. If the car is over 100k it'll probably need quite a bit of work done--just finished my 100k tuneup for 70000.

You'll need to have winter tires--you can sometimes get them used for a few $100 (or if you have an awesome garage you can buy a complete set for $50 but that's probably not the norm).

If you're applying for JET chances are you'll be able to buy your preds car for a reasonably acceptable price (I'd definitely check miles, shaken, and if there are tires, AND how many years they have left).

If you live somewhere where it's better to have one--do it. It'll completely change your experience. If not use your money in more fun ways!

word
October 12th, 2012, 15:47
I don't think they're super cheap but here's what you need to know

200000 yen is usually about the cheapest you'll find without it being un-inspected, or 100k+, you're more likely to come upon 300000.
You'll have to pay a few hundred for name changes and paperwork--the tax may need to be updated with is 4 man (about $350) for white plates or less than $100 for a yellow. Taxes are paid every year.

If the car has been inspected recently--great! If not it's usually around $1000 plus or minus depending what has to be fixed so it'll pass. If the car is over 100k it'll probably need quite a bit of work done--just finished my 100k tuneup for 70000.

You'll need to have winter tires--you can sometimes get them used for a few $100 (or if you have an awesome garage you can buy a complete set for $50 but that's probably not the norm).

If you're applying for JET chances are you'll be able to buy your preds car for a reasonably acceptable price (I'd definitely check miles, shaken, and if there are tires, AND how many years they have left).

If you live somewhere where it's better to have one--do it. It'll completely change your experience. If not use your money in more fun ways!word

Why worry about it now, though? Wait until you see where you're placed; if you end up in downtown Osaka, it's not gonna be an issue. Just save as much money as you can, be sure to get/bring your international driving permit, and make sure you've been licensed in your home country for at least three consecutive months before arrival.

Be prepared. Don't stress.

therealwindycity
October 12th, 2012, 16:58
I don't think they're super cheap but here's what you need to know

200000 yen is usually about the cheapest you'll find without it being un-inspected, or 100k+, you're more likely to come upon 300000.
You'll have to pay a few hundred for name changes and paperwork--the tax may need to be updated which is 4 man (about $350) for white plates or less than $100 for a yellow. Taxes are paid every year.

If the car has been inspected recently--great! If not it's usually around $1000 plus or minus depending what has to be fixed so it'll pass. If the car is over 100k it'll probably need quite a bit of work done--just finished my 100k tuneup for 70000.

You'll need to have winter tires--you can sometimes get them used for a few $100 (or if you have an awesome garage you can buy a complete set for $50 but that's probably not the norm).

If you're applying for JET chances are you'll be able to buy your preds car for a reasonably acceptable price (I'd definitely check miles, shaken, and if there are tires, AND how many years they have left).

If you live somewhere where it's better to have one--do it. It'll completely change your experience. If not use your money in more fun ways!

Yep, this. Most of the people I know have paid about 30 man for a yellow plate including snow tires and a couple years' worth of insurance.

If you're only staying for a year, you might also be able to lease a car for 2-3 man per month, but if you stay longer than a year it's probably worth it to just buy one.

jwkelley
December 10th, 2012, 11:08
I did not have a car for the past 5 months and it was fine. As long as you are willing to work with the local transportation and don't mind cycling you are set. Having a car is slightly better than not having one, but its not the end of the world and has some benefits also.

bananallanah
December 11th, 2012, 14:01
A car has made life so much easier for me. I frequently visit friends who are an hour or so drive away but would be double that on trains.
My car is a white plate w/ 4WD and was ¥150,000. I have no idea why it was so cheap, the shakken is due next October so I'm thinking maybe that'll be be end of it haha. However another option is to lease them, one town of JETs here only leases and everything is included (snowtires, shakken etc) which is great and they didn't have to part with a huge wad of cash in one go. I think it works out to be worth it if you're only here for a year to lease and after that it might just be convenience factor which makes it a good deal.

You could always just use your intl permit for a year and then see how you feel about the test? I can't offer much advice because on top of still using my intl license I'm a kiwi so I don't need to take the test.

MJN
December 11th, 2012, 15:06
Adding in Shaken, 'optional' insurance, tax and tires, 30man for a cheapish-car is a good estimate you'll be paying.

madeleine
December 12th, 2012, 12:27
I paid 2 man for my car (it wasn't taxed, but had shakken for a year) and it works fine (2 sets of tyres and about 80k km on the clock). But I only use it on weekends as I have a BOE car I can use just in my inaka area.

The shakken this year cost 11 man but they replaced all the summer tyres, and then I paid 2.4 man to replace the timing belt. If you do want a car I think it's a good idea to buy it from a leaving JET since everyone will be selling their cars, driving the price down a lot. I know last year many people sold their cars for 5 - 11 man, and some of them were quite nice cars.

I do think having a car (and an ETC card!) is a great thing though. We take a few trips a year so being able to drive down to narita is cheaper and faster for us than taking the train, and that way we don't have to cart all our luggage around Tokyo's underground.

MJN
December 12th, 2012, 13:38
ETC cards are fantastic, it's outstanding how much money I've saved on expressways since getting one.

bananallanah
December 12th, 2012, 14:53
ETC cards are fantastic, it's outstanding how much money I've saved on expressways since getting one.

I just got one and used it on Saturday, worked out that if I do like 6 return trips on the expressway to my friends that I'll have broken even on getting it installed. Add a couple trips to Sendai and it'll definitely have been worth it.

As an aside: I cant believe how expensive tolls are here, we don't have them in NZ (actually there might be one that's like $2) but even if we did I doubt it'd be nearly $30 for an 80min trip especially when the alternative is an icy mountain death road in winter.

word
December 12th, 2012, 19:01
I have mixed feelings about the tolls; when it comes down to it, I really don't mind the cost. I wish there were more of them/that they were really just all over the place/that there were more IC gates. I would happily pay the costs of commuting every day if I could do it on an expressway. The high cost helps keep the amount of traffic down, which is really nice; I f*ckin' LOVE haulin' arse down the expressways and not having to worry (much) about a bunch of idiots in my way.

The snow-tire checks are really, really stupid and annoying, though. I'm not paying this toll so that I can sit in stop-and-go traffic for an hour just 'cause you couldn't be bothered to do a better job of checking all the entrances.

MJN
December 13th, 2012, 11:33
Snow tire checks? Never seen one of them.

I don't mind the tolls, expensive, but the expressways seem by far and away better in both condition and efficiency than British Motorways. Unless a road in the UK is brand spanking new, it seems like it's left to rot. I've not seen a pot-hole filled expressway here.

Gizmotech
December 13th, 2012, 11:36
You will after the next election if the nut jobs get in power. Cut construction spending!

MJN
December 13th, 2012, 11:39
Aye but if the LDP gets in, construction spending is going up!

Ini
December 13th, 2012, 12:33
Only suckers pay tolls

MJN
December 13th, 2012, 12:41
Real men ramp the toll gate and drive in the breakdown lane