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Beyond the Tourist Trail: Exploring Nagoya's Neighborhood Options

Best Neighborhoods for Expats in Nagoya

Nagoya offers a variety of neighborhoods that cater to the needs and preferences of expat families, providing them with multiple options to choose from when deciding where to live. Learn all about where to live in Nagoya and which neighborhood option is the best for your family.


Best Neighborhoods for Expats in Nagoya

When choosing where to live in Nagoya, there are multiple great options to choose from. Downtown Nagoya offers the excitement of city life, with its vibrant atmosphere, diverse dining options, and access to urban amenities. Neighborhoods like Meito-ku provide a more tranquil and spacious environment, allowing families to have a larger house with a yard and a closer connection to nature. For families with children attending NIS, living near the school in Moriyama offers convenience, shorter commutes, and a supportive community of fellow NIS families. The availability of multiple neighborhood options allows expat families to choose the best neighborhood for expats that best suits their lifestyle and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable living experience in Nagoya. 

Discover the best neighborhoods for expat families here.


Downtown Living in Nagoya: Embracing the Urban Pulse

If the allure of a bustling city and the convenience of urban living resonate with you, then making your home in the heart of Nagoya could be a perfect match. The Nagoya Station area, known for its extra convenience, serves as a gateway to other areas in Nagoya and beyond, making it one of the best neighborhoods for expats in the region. New, modern apartment buildings are rising, some conveniently incorporating grocery stores and shopping areas into their lower floors, adding an extra layer of convenience to your everyday life and making it a great place to live for expats in Nagoya. 

Living in downtown Nagoya offers a lifestyle where restaurants, theaters, museums, and concert venues are all within walking distance. The central districts like Sakae, Fushimi, and Nagoya Station, are teeming with entertainment options. But it's not just about indoor attractions. Shirakawa Park and the Science Museum in the Fushimi area offer an intriguing blend of greenery and knowledge. Central Park in Sakae hosts vibrant festivals during the summer, from Oktoberfest to Thai Fest. Meijo Park, nestled close to Nagoya Castle, is a seasonal delight with cherry blossoms and Wisteria blooms, and makes it one of the best neighborhoods for expats who seek an adventure in Nagoya.

Living downtown not only places you amidst these urban gems but also ensures easy access to multiple train lines, connecting you to every corner of the city and beyond. If you're a Sumo fan, the National Stadium is just a hop away. The thriving Sasashima area boasts a concert venue, shopping, and a multiplex movie theater, including IMAX.

Downtown living in areas like Sakae, Fushimi, and Nagoya Station offers the best of both worlds - a slice of city life alongside serene pockets of green, making it one of the best neighborhoods for expats in Nagoya. Yet, as with every choice, there are nuances. While public transportation accessibility and the bustling energy of the city are undeniably attractive, housing options are primarily limited to condominiums and apartment-style accommodations. For those with a downtown office, this can prove to be a convenient choice, while older children can enjoy easy access to public transportation.

Fushimi is home to Shirakawa Park and the Science Museum, while Sakae's Central Park hosts a spectrum of summer festivals. Meijo Park, positioned north of the downtown area near Nagoya Castle, beckons with its natural beauty. The Aichi Museum of Art, also located in Sakae, stands as the center of the area's art and cultural scene, and around Nagoya Station, shopping abounds with options like Midland Square, Gateway Mall, and JR Towers.

If the rhythm of an urban lifestyle calls to you, consider making downtown Nagoya your home. Amidst the city lights, you'll find your place, a space where culture, convenience, and community seamlessly intertwine.


Quieter Urban living in Chikusa and Meito-ku: A Haven of Familiarity 

For those seeking a quieter pace within the urban landscape of Nagoya, the neighborhoods of Chikusa and Meito-ku offer a slice of traditional charm infused with modern comforts. 

Here, 'Western-style' homes are more than just houses. Some even cater specifically to American families, boasting spacious rooms, high ceilings, and kitchens equipped with appliances tailored to international needs. Small yards or green spaces offer a touch of nature, and being pet-friendly, they embrace your furry friends, creating a setting that echoes your life in your home country.

“Meito-ku was a great central location to both NIS and my husband's office. We were close to a bus route, a local park, and proximity to the subway. A great big western house suited my husband's need to be comfortable.” Kathy, NIS Parent

Green spaces are aplenty, with the nearby zoo adding a unique touch to your daily urban experience. Grocery stores and shopping spots are easily accessed, often centered around the Higashiyama subway line. While a car might come in handy, parking woes aren't an issue, as most homes come with garages or parking spaces – a luxury in city living.

These neighborhoods thrive on the concepts of familiarity and home for a growing expat community in Nagoya and remain one of the best neighborhood options for expats. They cultivate a sense of community, often housing fellow expat families. This shared space has led to wonderful social occasions, like BBQ parties and friendly gatherings, as homes are designed to entertain. With roomy layouts and Western-inspired designs, making it one of the best neighborhoods for expats in Nagoya. 

“I loved the location of Meito-ku. You can get anywhere by subway quickly, and it can still be a quieter area for the kids. Also, I loved being in the middle of a Japanese neighborhood - you are more submerged that way.” - Sandy, NIS Parent

Moreover, they're strategically positioned, not too far from the city center. You can have the best of both worlds: the tranquility of quieter suburbs and the excitement of urban living. Easy access to subway lines ensures you're seamlessly connected to the heart of the city. This convenience extends to your children's schooling. The proximity to Nagoya International School prompted the creation of dedicated bus routes, ensuring a smooth journey for your little ones where parents can feel confident their childrens’ safety is considered of utmost importance.

Along the Higashiyama Subway line, various adventures await your exploration. Kakuozan beckons with its famous temple, a serene retreat. The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Higashiyama open up new dimensions of nature and learning and family friendly fun. Meanwhile, Hoshigaoka offers a neighborhood of shops and restaurants that have been beloved for generations.

Quieter urban living in Chikusa and Meito-ku isn't just a housing choice; it's a lifestyle decision that harmonizes modernity with familiarity. It's a way of embracing the city's pulse without compromising the tranquility or familiarity you cherish. Welcome to a pocket of Nagoya that resonates with 'home' in more ways than one.


School-centric in Moriyama: Where Convenience Meets Comfort 

Nestled in the heart of Moriyama, a school-centric neighborhood for NIS families, lies a haven for expat families seeking the perfect blend of comfort and convenience. It is a community suited for the needs of  expats, where the comfort of home is seamlessly integrated with the necessities of school life.

The neighborhood's landscape is adorned with Western-styled homes, purposefully crafted to provide a familiar haven. These homes offer not just living spaces, but also the luxury of well-maintained yards that invite you to embrace the outdoors. What's more, these homes are sometimes within walking or biking distance to school – a factor that significantly eases the morning rush and makes school drop-offs a breeze, and granting additional freedom to older children.

Moriyama has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years, evolving into a thriving hub of convenience. There are multiple supermarkets, home centers, and a range of dining options at your doorstep. From local eateries to international favorites like McDonald's and Starbucks, the culinary spectrum is well-covered. And the icing on the cake? A new Costco recently opened in the area, making bulk shopping easy and convenient. Nearby shopping malls offer a variety of retail therapy opportunities too!

“I think it mostly depends on what your desires are. Do you want to be close to transit or close to the school, do you have pets, don't mind apartment living, etc.? You have many options here, and each area has a different feel. I would explore those questions. Then, if you can, walk around some of the areas you are looking into for housing. Talk to other parents or co-workers, if you have the connections. They can give you insights as well!” - Krystal, NIS Parent

But it's not just about shopping and dining. Moriyama boasts easy access to major highways, connecting you to Nagoya, Tokyo, Kyoto, and beyond. Whether by car, a quick 10-minute drive, or a leisurely 20-minute bike ride, getting to school or hopping onto the train towards Nagoya's vibrant heart is a breeze. Speaking of the train, Kozoji Station ensures both semi-express and express trains cater to your transportation needs to the center of Nagoya.

Living in Moriyama brings not only easy access to school but also offers a sanctuary of green spaces. The neighborhood is close to the magnificent Shinrin Park, where nature's serenity welcomes you for leisurely strolls and quality family time. Larger homes dot the landscape, though availability might be a consideration – details worth double-checking with a relocation agent.

One car could conveniently suffice for the whole family, as easy access to school and efficient public transportation streamline daily routines. This accessibility is particularly crucial for working parents. And if you are looking for quiet, Moriyama offers this in spades. While Nagoya's vibrancy is still within reach via the express train from Kozoji, Moriyama offers spacious homes and proximity to school - a true boon for NIS families.

Moriyama is the embodiment of family-centric living. It's more than just a great neighborhood option for expat families; it's a lifestyle that celebrates family and community, ensuring your journey in Nagoya is as comfortable as it is rewarding.


Insider Tips for Living and Thriving in Nagoya as an Expat

Embarking on an expat journey to Nagoya is an exciting adventure, but it’s natural to have a few concerns and queries along the way. Fear not, for we’ve got you covered with some insider tips to help you not just survive, but thrive in this vibrant city.


Navigating the Urban Maze

Nagoya’s transportation system might appear complex at first, but it’s your ticket to exploring the city and beyond. The comprehensive subway and bus networks are the lifelines of commuting. Grab an IC card like a Manaca, Suica or Pasmo – your universal travel buddy for seamless journeys on trains, buses, and even for purchasing items at convenience stores or those famously ubiquitous vending machines!

Nagoya’s transportation system

Driving in Japan 

If you’re considering getting behind the wheel, bear in mind that driving in Japan is on the left side of the road. Obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving is essential, allowing you to drive legally for up to a year. For a more extended stay, consider the process of acquiring a Japanese driving license. Though you can navigate the process on your own, relocation companies offer services to get you through the procedures needed and on the road with less stress.


Healthcare Hassle-free 

Navigating healthcare in a new country can be daunting, but Nagoya boasts top-notch medical facilities. An essential tool for your healthcare journey is the Japan National Tourism Organization’s “Medical Institutions Search” service, helping you locate English-speaking doctors. This is also where being connected to a tight-knit school community can be beneficial. Networking with those that have come before you is a great way to find out more about the medical practitioners that cater to foreigners. But do rest assured that Nagoya has many world class medical facilities with specialists in many fields - more and more who speak English.


Overcoming Language Barriers

While English isn’t widely spoken, don't let language barriers deter you. Embrace language learning apps like Duolingo, FluentU, and Babbel to equip yourself with basic Japanese phrases. For in-the-moment translations, Google Translate and DeepL are simple and easy options. And once you arrive, consider enrolling in a Japanese language course to deepen your understanding and connection. Some of them are even offered free or for a nominal price by local volunteers. The Nagoya International Center can help you with these connections if you are interested.


Building a Social Web 

Transitioning into a new culture is smoother when you find your community. Nagoya offers expat-oriented social clubs and organizations that foster connections. The Cross-cultural Exchange Association (CCEA) bridges the gap between locals and expats and is aimed at helping non-working spouses find their own place in the community. The American Chamber of Commerce (ACCJ) is a hub for creating both business and social networks, while Facebook groups are treasure troves of local insights.

“Learn to navigate the subway or public transport. Find your local park, hang out, see what happens. Especially in areas with a strong foreign presence the locals can be a little more open to meeting foreigners, and kids can be very open to new things or people.” - NIS Parent


Cultural Connection 

Feel the yearning for familiar flavors? Expats can rejoice in Nagoya’s global culinary scene. From international groceries like Seijo Ishii and Kaldi to international restaurants peppered around the city, finding a taste of home isn’t all that challenging. In addition, two Costco locations (one close to NIS!) help you find those familiar daily use items you are used to using back home. And if spirituality is important to your family, numerous places of worship, like churches and temples, offer solace and a sense of belonging.


Thriving Amidst Familiarity

The journey of an expat isn’t just about adapting; it’s about integrating and embracing the adventure. With these insider tips in your arsenal, Nagoya’s vibrant tapestry is yours to explore. Embrace the fusion of tradition and modernity, navigate the urban rhythm with confidence, and weave yourself into the city's cultural fabric. 

“Take your time getting used to things, don't hesitate trying or experiencing the sights, foods, etc. Try your best to be respectful of the culture and customs and have fun getting to meet new people, try new foods, and have wonderful experiences.” - NIS Parent

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Join these Gr. 12s and embrace the opportunities, embrace the culture, and embrace the adventure. Your journey in Nagoya awaits – start planning and exploring today!

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