I’ve officially lived in Okinawa, Japan for 8 (fun filled) months as of the 8th! I’ve settled into my amazing house and job and have a pretty great idea of what Japanese life is like. I knew it would be different, but I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy living here. I really, really, really LOVE living here. Without further adu, check out a few of the pros and cons of living in Okinawa.
Pro: The Food is Incredible
This is probably one of my favorite aspects of living in Okinawa. As I stated in my First Impressions post, every meal I have here is the new best meal of my life. Ramen, udon, bukaake (yes, that’s a food here), soba, rainbow bagels, and yakitori are all now staples of my diet. The sushi is unbelievably fresh and inexpensive, especially compared to England(where a California Roll cost me over $12). The meat is delicious and fresh. They display the food as art and I still cannot believe I am lucky enough to consume it all. The only downside is the outrageous cost of produce.
Con: Travel is Limited
This definitely makes me miss living in Europe. It’s sad, but Okinawa flies to limited airports and it’s difficult to find somewhere to go to for less than $300. Luckily I have found easy ways to get more out of my trips. Instead of going straight to my final destination, I head somewhere direct from Okinawa (Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo) and stay there overnight. This gives me time to explore that place and it’s not such a long flight to finally make it to the place I wanted to go. I’ll do the same thing on the way back. It makes flights cheaper and you get to explore more places. Win-Win!
Pro: The People
I have never met a set of people more kind and embracing than the Okinawans. I have never faced any issues being an American in their country. In fact, they have gone out of their way to assist me more often than any Americans ever have. There is almost virtually no crime, they try their best to speak English, and are ridiculously polite.
I live less than a mile from base and it takes me around 15 minutes to get home when I take the fastest route (avoiding as many traffic lights as possible). Annoyingly, the traffic lights are inefficient and the speed limits are super low. Additionally, there are so many cars on island without much place for them to go so it makes for annoyingly slow-moving cars. The expressway that runs between the North and South is rather expensive too. 😛
Pro: Winter isn’t cold.
Winters in England were MISERABLE. I essentially lived in a basement without windows and never saw the sun. Here is the complete opposite. It’s still sunny, warm enough to have a beach day on New Years Eve (Where this picture is from) and I never had to wear a coat. Some people may love the cold, and those people might not think this is a pro about living in Okinawa, but I am thanking my lucky stars. The coldest it got this winter was 62 F.
Con: I miss my family
Being away from family sucks. Having to shell out $2500 to get home and back sucks. Missing birthdays, holidays, and weddings sucks. This isn’t exactly a con about living Okinawa particularly (since this is a con of everywhere but home), but I feel that if you’re planning on coming here long-term you’ll experience the homesickeness at least once. Adding insult to injury, the flights are very, very long. A positive to this is that the camaraderie is wonderful here. You’ll become family with other people in the same boat as you.
Pro: Vending Machines
Vending machines are everywhere. I have one on the side of the road right by my house. I love it. What makes it even better is that they keep drinks either chilled at the perfect temperature OR WARM. The warm temperature drinks are the PERFECT drinking temperature. My personal favorite is the hot chocolate. I would drink it every day if I could.
Pro + Con: 3 Car Rule
I was struggling to think of cons for living in Okinawa so I’m listing this one It’s only a con because it can be a little dangerous if you don’t know it’s coming. An unwritten rule is to “wait for 3 cars to run the red light before you go when your light turns green.” It’s amazing if you’re one of the three cars because you can run red lights!
Those of you who have been living in Okinawa, what are the biggest pros and cons you’ve faced?