tokyodev forum

Moving to the countryside for remote work?

Hello everybody,

Not sure if this is the right place to post something like this - but I am curious about the following:
With the recent virus-related push to remote working, what would it take for some small/medium software companies to leave the big cities in Honshu and go to settle in the countryside / Hokkaido? :ski: :sun_with_face: :snowflake:

For sure if you are young single person, the city life may be more attractive - but if you have a young family or attracted by outdoors, the quality of life might be a good tradeoff and a great option for companies to differentiate themselves?
At the end of the day with the shinkansen you are back in Tokyo in a handful of hours (maybe quicker by plane if needed), there are subsidized International Schools and no need for A/C in summer.
(Btw this is a real question not an advertisement of some sort.). Is it the lack of developers? Would local tax incentives or other relocation schemes make a difference?

(To give a bit of background to ppl interested, I was a software engineer a long time ago and changed career. I moved in Hokkaido (Niseko) 8 years ago and since then I always wondered why more companies are not making similar moves).
Looking forward to read your answers - and stay safe everyone!

Companies are headquartered in Tokyo because other companies are headquartered there. Japanese society puts a lot of value on doing things the way everyone else does, and doesn’t encourage questioning the defaults.

Having so many companies there creates a network effect: it’s much easier to meet with clients / partners when both companies are in Tokyo. This is amplified by Japanese business traditionally being more about building long term relationships, rather than finding the best deal in the short term. This makes it common for companies to visit each others offices on a regular basis for no other reason than reinforcing this relationship.

Obviously, COVID-19 has shaken up things. Having video chats instead of in person meetings has become much more accepted. Some companies that were previously opposed to remote work has embraced it.

Personally, I think more companies will shift to remote work. When your company is 100% remote, it doesn’t matter where it is headquartered, nor do your employees need to be in physical proximity to each other. So rather than companies moving their offices outside of Tokyo, I think it’s more likely that you’ll see individuals making the move.

Thanks for the quick answer!
This makes sense, especially from the HR point of view (the closer you are to where the talents are, the easier/less hard it is to recruit).
Let’s see what the future holds!

from the worker point of view, surely on the money side it makes sense. you can buy a large house and pay no rent.

we just moved in 2019 from the country side to Tokyo and I enjoy the availability of everything, including making new friends easily. I like both and I hate having to choose. but even if I can afford it, I don’t think it makes sense to pay high rent for so long, its a tough decision for the kids for sure.

from the company perspective, it depends on the sales model. employees should be allowed to work remotely now. but sales? it depends. surely a lot of start up don’t need to be in Tokyo.

that’s my opinion at least

I am a developer and I have been living and working remotely in the countryside since 2010. Moved from Yokohama to Tottori pref. and since 2016 I have been living in Miyazaki pref.
I am a freelancer though.
That said my current client company is established in Sapporo and all employees work remotely, so it is happening. I might actually join them as an employee also if all goes well.