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View Poll Results: England vs Stockholm vs Amsterdam vs Tokyo
England 11 18.03%
Stockholm 19 31.15%
Tokyo 16 26.23%
Amsterdam 15 24.59%
Voters: 61. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-31-2009, 10:39 PM
241 posts, read 742,531 times
Reputation: 195


I'm trying to plan the next goals in my life and having difficulty deciding where I would like to live and work and most likely raise a family. I'm originally from the US, and moved to Tokyo to work a few years ago. It's really quite fun here, but I am very worried that it is not a good place to raise a family. I'm getting to that age where I'm interested in having children and raising a family. I'm also interested in going back to school to get a master's or doctorate or just to study a new field altogether.

My current ranking is 1. Stockholm 2. England 3. Tokyo 4. Amsterdam. These are Pros and Cons from my point of view. I would love feedback from people who have lived here, especially if someone has lived in Tokyo as well as one of these places to give me an idea how they compare...perhaps Tokyo is the best and I should stay? Well, also need to factor in immigration/citizenship issues, though it seems it should not be a problem with the 1st 2 at least.

Pros: Good social safety net. Government more aligned with my personal beliefs. Fashionable, art and music oriented city (I think). Seems like quite a beautiful city, with the mix of old European architecture, a lot of green, and a lot of water. Public transportation system looks very good. Free tuition for college. Near shortest working hours per year. Have ancestral roots here from my great great....etc grandfather on my father's side, the origin of my family/last name.

Cons: Weather. Everyone says this is why the only reason they wouldn't consider moving here. I'm looking for someone who has been there to tell me it's not as bad as people think. But if it is bad, let me know as well. Cost. Seems expensive, and comparing flights around Europe, online at least, the flights from Stockholm to just about anywhere in Europe seem to be $100-$200 more than flights from the UK or Netherlands. Maybe there's a cheaper method to travel from Stockholm throughout Europe? Location. Seems a bit far from continental Europe, but maybe it's not as bad as it appears. Language. Have to learn Swedish to get employment and really make friends, but supposedly that can be done within a year. Unemployment rate seems unusually high for a Scandinavian country. Worry it may be a bit boring. Not sure what people do for fun there.

Closest to home. Reasonable weather (I assume). Easy access to continental Europe. No language barrier problems. One of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. A very important city. Massive music scene. Many of the top universities in the world. Greater diversity than Stockholm (judging by Wikipedia stats). Free college for my children if I raised them there (but not me). Also have ancestral roots here, Ireland, and Scotland.

Honestly, just not that excited about British culture right now. I worry it may feel a bit too much like being back in the US in the way people behave. Almost the same percentage of obese people as the US. Cost of living is supposedly extremely high, but it is in all these cities. College may be quite expensive.

Great location. Supposedly near the top health care in Europe. Foreigner friendly. Top in happiness survey and good to raise children in. Seemingly nice weather. Also short on working hours per year like Sweden. Extremely low unemployment rate. Maybe have more spending cash than I would in Sweden.

Cons: I have no connection to this country really. I'd have to learn Dutch. Not into the drug scene that Amsterdam is famous for and have no desire to be surrounded by those types of people. City population size seems a bit small. Don't know much about the music scene here. It may not have much or is dominated by music I'm not interested in.

Massive city with a lot going on. Pop culture elements of the country are fun. People are in good health and dress well. Awesome public transportation system. Good media entertainment, excluding TV.

Cons: The weather. It rains far too much, 1,466 mm a year! We get heavy rain and long, cloudy, miserable rain too. Summers are brutal. Fall and Spring seasons seem extremely short, as if the temp suddenly jumps from cold to hot and vice versa. Overcrowded. Massive language barrier taking years of commitment, made more difficult if you work and are a poor self-learner. Lack of intellectual curiosity. "Shopping" seems the most common hobby here. Difficult being vegetarian. Poor school system. If you're not rich, your child will likely go to a school with out of control classes, where bullying leads to suicides. Completely different manner of interaction, very hierarchical even among friends. Too far from home and family. Really expensive to travel anywhere aside from neighboring vacation islands. Crappy, dull architecture almost everywhere. Long work hours with short vacations most likely unless you remain an English teacher (low salary, no job security) or get extremely lucky. Expensive colleges.

The US is also a possibility, but I am worried about the lack of good health care, the near future of the economy, the high unemployment rate, the expensive colleges (problem for me and children if I were to have any), mass poverty and income gap, poor social safety net, high crime, etc. I love many things about American life, but these problems, largely the result of corrupt government, are overwhelming.

Last edited by vaga bond; 08-31-2009 at 10:52 PM..
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:47 AM
Location: rain city
2,957 posts, read 12,720,858 times
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I think where you go more depends on what you do for a living. You're going to have to have a job, and the requisite residency work permits/visas to live in any of the places you listed. Those will be the most serious hurdles, not the weather or public transportation.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:27 AM
241 posts, read 742,531 times
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Right. I was strongly considering going back to school and working at the university. Suppose college acceptance would be a problem. My main skill atm is English teaching, just need more certification. I'm not sure about that in the long run though as a career for me.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:39 AM
Location: rain city
2,957 posts, read 12,720,858 times
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Three of the four places you listed are EU countries. As a teacher of ESL, any qualified teacher from an EU country would be given precedence over an American.

To some degree the Brits already speak English, so London may not be a good teaching option for you.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:59 AM
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Well, that's why I was making my choices with university as the entry ticket. I already knew finding a job as an English teacher in those countries was far more difficult than where I am now. However, I did come across a blog by an American working as an English teacher in Sweden. Also, a former classmate worked as a teacher in Sweden, but I found this out through my mom, so I don't have more information.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:51 PM
1,156 posts, read 3,780,761 times
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I have to differ on the opinion that schools in Tokyo are poor. Yes, there are bad schools where the kids seem to run wild, but those are anecdotal instances and there is pretty much no school in Japan that is as violent or crazy as a lot of the campuses you would experience in the L.A. Unified School District. In fact, a Japanese public school education has been compared to doing two years of college in the U.S. and they keep a pretty firm handle on the kids behaviorally.

Now as far as Japanese universities go, they are largely a joke on the undergraduate level and pretty good on the post-grad level. So yeah, you don't get much bang for your buck educationally at a college in Japan.

Too bad you never learned the language. You would have had a lot more fun if you did.

I've never been to Amsterdam, but the Dutch generally are pretty laid back and friendly, if my experience with them is any indication Plus they speak english pretty well. The only really wack thing about them I know of is their soccer hooligans, but Britain's, Italy's and Spain's are pretty notorious, too. So I think you should definitely look into Amsterdam. Both that city and Stockholm are cities I would love to live in for a while.

FWIW, A friend of mine lived and studied in Sweden for a couple of years and she loved it.
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:10 PM
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I've taught in variety of schools in Japan, from public and private, good and bad. Yes, I agree I haven't experienced a school like the worse schools in the US, but I have noticed some schools where the students seem to not care much and the teachers are a bit powerless in discipline. I've saw first hand instances more violent than I experienced myself in the US (and I've been in a variety of schools from good to bad there as well), that were treated for less seriously. Just 2 days ago there was a report on the news about 2 girls committing suicide because they were bullied so much, yet the school and teachers were not able to seriously deal with it. I think as an outsider we'd think maybe this is some " Japanese" thing where they're more prone to commit suicide, but having taught at some poor schools where bad students are not dealt with properly, I can see how this could occur. Of course I'd have more fun here with a better grasp of the language, but I've been a poor self learner and haven't had the time or money to study more on my own. I could take the free courses offered here however and I blame myself for not doing so. I am not alone in this though as it seems many I've met full time run into the same problem, though some have picked it up. Surprisingly I've had coworkers who've passed JLPT 1, who seem fluent in the language, working the same position as me. One told me they found it more difficult to find other work in Japanese companies than they expected despite their ability. Otoh, I had a roommate who got a job as a programmer, but he was able to live and study here for 3 years before applying for work.

It sounds like you may have lived there yourself. Do you not agree with some of my other criticisms about life here? I agree there are many fun things to do, especially when young or if you're a heavy drinker, but I worry about my sanity living here over the long term.

Glad to hear that about Stockholm.
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:39 PM
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Tokyo receives only a little bit and in some cases less rain (I.E. Miami) than southeastern US cities, and around 5-10 inches more than Northeast US cities.

Schools is no comparison, Japanese schools are better than american schools (not universities). Even the high school near where i live (in orlando) had a murder last year, some kid stabbed the other kid with a knife during class (university high school and apparently there was another murder 5 years ago as well), and theres always drugs being found. In tokyo as you probably know, if one kid is found with drugs it makes the city news for a few days LOL.

It seems like your biggest problems with Tokyo are, #1 you don't speak the language (and being in Japan this is a huge deal as you know, learn japanese if you want to live in Japan and be sane I dont even know how youre living in japan without speaking japanese LOL but good job!), and #2 it's far from your family, well what do you expect it's east asia.

If you're leaving tokyo, and you want a city with reasonable crime rate (none in US will match Japans crime rate), good income equality, healthcare etc then i would recomend Zurich and Copenhagen

Top 25 Most Liveable Cities 2009 - Monocle - PSFK

They are ranked #1 and #2 for most liveable cities, with Tokyo at #3. If you're not a big city person and you want the suburbs (more relaxing etc) then definately move to the USA. Though you won't have any public transit at all, and your healthcare will be like 5x as much as in Japan, and you need to have good locks on your door

Last edited by Bibi12; 09-01-2009 at 03:47 PM..
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:41 PM
895 posts, read 2,365,600 times
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Also Japan is probably the easiest country in the developed world to be a vegetarian (everyone can survive with just noodles, rice with toppings, tofu actually alot of vegetarian meals are based off of japanese food etc etc) so bad luck for you, at least the USA is all about meat meat and more meat.

If you want to be a vegetarian you should move to kyoto wher even the Izakayas is mostly vegetarian food.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:23 AM
Location: Bergen County, NJ
594 posts, read 1,199,496 times
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I lived in Stockholm for 17 years.

The climate of Stockholm is four distinct seasons. Summers are comfortably warm with plenty of sunshine (high's of 20 - 25 C and lows of 12 - 15 C) - although it could be hotter sometimes for few days.
Spring and Fall/Autumn are cool to mild, altough May and September could be quite warm sometimes (Highs ranging 10 - 20 C and lows of 5 - 10 C).
Winters are cold with temperatures ranging from 1 to -3 C (NOT as cold as you might think!).
It could snow from November through March, although recent winters have tend to be mostly free of snow!
Rainfalls is generally light to moderate throughout the year - only avg. 539 mm/year!

There are around 4 - 6 sunshine days/week during the summer, and around 1 - 2 sunshine days/week during winter. It usually rains 1 - 3 times a week throughout the year.

Stockholm is very beautiful country, nice and beautiful people, very friendly, low crime etc.
The City is built on 14 islands connected by bridges. Every island has its beauty. Plenty of enterteiment, shopping, museums, fashion, media etc. It has everyone you need! Lots of green & water around you - water is enough warm to swim during the summer even in the city beaches!
EXCELLENT food - they also have good international food! EXCELLENT public transportation & walkable - no need of car! Flight tickets are cheaper if travelling from Sweden to other countries in Europe & World. Try ryanair !
It's not that expensive actually! Free school/college education & lunch, very good schools etc. Very good place to raise family and kids - every month they'll give 1050 SEK (around $120) /child called "barnbidrag" up to 18 years old.
Swedish is very easy to learn, it's germanic as English, Dutch, German. Very similar to Norwegian and Danish. You read it as it is spelled.

The population of Stockholm is around 800,000 in the City, and 2 million in metropolitan area.
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