The Roadmap for How to Retire Early in Japan

Hi, I'm Sayu (@sayu_FIRE), a retired nurse who retired early in my 30s!

I was a poor freelancer, but I saved my money and got my nursing license.Then, I retired early in my 30's, taking full advantage of my nursing license!Nursing is a great match for early retirement!

In the accumulation phase

  • High income
  • Many workplaces offer good benefits.
  • Many high income part time jobs.
  • Easy to aim for higher income by changing jobs

These are some of the advantages.

After early retirement

  • Jobs available anywhere in Japan
  • Possible to return to full time work quickly
  • Many types of jobs (not just hospitals)
  • Many high paying part-time jobs available
    and other advantages, so you can enjoy your early retirement with peace of mind.

In this post, we will introduce "How to Retire Early by Using Your Nursing License in Japan".And there's plenty of useful information for non-nurses as well!
We hope you enjoy it!



I believe that saving is the most important factor in early retirement.If you are a good saver, you may be able to retire early even if your assets and income are low.

However, "painful saving" does not last long.Here are some savings that you can sustain without strain!

Household Budgeting

Before you start saving, keep a household budget.If you don't know your income and expenses, you cannot evaluate whether your saving and saving are going well.Furthermore, just like dieting, simply keeping a record may produce results.

If this sounds tedious, don't worry.Currently, by linking your credit card to a household account bookkeeping app, you can keep track of your finances almost automatically.

Food expenses

My recommendation is to learn to cook!You can save money and eat healthy, delicious meals every day.The benefits are too many.

Even if you are not a good cook, it is not difficult with cooking appliances.Although the cost of introduction is necessary, but I think it will pay off in the end because you will save money by cooking for yourself.


I don't save much on utilities.

The amount of money I can save is small compared to the amount of effort I have to put in.


For company employees, "housing subsidies and dormitories" are very powerful.In Japan, company housing and dormitories can cost as little as 10,000 yen for rent.

This is a great way to save money, so be sure to take advantage of it if possible.If you cannot take advantage of housing subsidies, we recommend housing near universities in various locations.

There are many inexpensive rentals for students.I once lived in a one-room apartment for 15,000 yen (and it was clean and included appliances).


Prevention is better than cure!As the saying goes, it is important to keep yourself healthy on a regular basis.Basic things such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and being careful not to lack of sleep are OK.
Medical care is inexpensive in Japan because of the universal health insurance system.

Communication costs

You should sign a contract with a company that sells inexpensive telecommunications services, not with a major company.The price is less than half of the major companies.


My recommendation is to ride a bicycle.Not only does it save you money, but it also helps you get exercise and relieve stress.In areas without good transportation, you can save money by using a motor cycle rather than a car.

Tax Savings

File your tax return and save on taxes.It may be a small amount, but over a long period of time it will add up to a large amount and you will become more knowledgeable about taxes.

  • Recommended tax savings
  • Hometown tax payment
  • iDeCo
  • Deduction of medical expenses

Japanese tax returns are complicated, but you can learn about them on Youtube, etc.

Increase your money

Stocks, mutual funds, RITE, ETFs, etc.

I am a long-term investor.I do not trade short term and earn about 4% per year from stocks and mutual funds.4% may seem small, but it is not a problem for me because my living expenses are small.

In Japan, there are two government programs, "NISA" and "iDeCo". These are excellent tax reduction programs, and I encourage you to take advantage of them.

Real Estate Investment

It takes more time and effort than stocks, but the profit is bigger.I bought an old single-family house at a reasonable price and use it as a rental.I hope to increase it little by little in the future.

Time-saving appliances

Robot vacuum cleaners, washer/dryers, automatic cookers, etc.

Obtaining a Nursing License

There are two types of nursing licenses in Japan.

Licensed Practical Nurses

This license can be obtained in 2 years.However, the salary and the number of job opportunities will be less than those for national qualification nurses.

Many associate's nursing schools allow you to attend school while working.The cost is around $12,000 for two years.There are various schools with high or low costs, but the number of schools is currently decreasing.

Nursing License

You will try to obtain a license by attending a vocational school (3 years) or a university (4 years).If you have an associate's license, you can get a nursing license in two years.The cost of attending a college or university is expensive, but the cost of attending a prefectural vocational school is inexpensive.

Vocational schools cost around $20,000 for three years, while universities may cost $100,000 for four years.There are many systems in Japan that will try to help with tuition fees.There are also scholarships and systems that allow students to attend school while receiving unemployment insurance.

I was also able to attend school while receiving unemployment insurance for two years.The tuition was lower and I was very grateful.

Save Money by Becoming a Nurse

Here's How to Save Money for Nurses!

First, check the characteristics of nurses.

  • High salary
  • There are many job openings
  • Night shifts pay more
  • Hospitals often have rich Employee benefits

and so on.

Take Employee benefits

Most medical facilities and nursing homes where nurses work offer a " employee benefits program.Employee benefits are many benefits available to those who work for the company.

For example

  • Housing allowance and company housing
  • Childcare support (in-house nursery school, etc.)
  • Medical expense assistance
  • Meal subsidies and company cafeteria
  • Training expense subsidies
  • Commuting allowance
  • Family allowance

and more.

Housing costs are a major expense, so if you receive a housing allowance, you can save money at a faster rate.If you have access to an in-house daycare center, it will be easier to work even if you have children.

The daycare fee is easier to pay, and you can save more money by earning more money from your job.

Make the most of high-income part-time jobs and night shifts.

Nurses often work part-time jobs with high income.A single night shift job may pay $400 or more per shift.

However, it is very difficult to work a part-time job in addition to your day job.You need to be careful not to get tired and cause a bad influence on your main job or get sick.

Changing Jobs

There are many jobs available for nurses, so it is a good idea to keep changing jobs to one with favorable conditions.

Life after Early Retirement

Two preparations for emergencies

I am enjoying early retirement and can live on my asset income alone if I don't splurge.However, stock market crash could happen or a disaster could destroy my real estate.

So I have two preparations (besides money) for emergencies.

  1. Maintain my nursing skills
  2. Maintain good health

Maintain my nursing skills

I sometimes study the latest in nursing and medicine to make sure I can work smoothly after I return to work.Plus, learning is fun and it's good for my brain health!

Maintain good health

Even with my nursing license and nursing skills, I cannot return to work if I am not healthy.Therefore, I also take good care of my health.

My health management is simple.I just pay attention to diet, sleep, exercise, and stress.I cook healthy food, sleep a lot, and take frequent walks.

Money is surprisingly not down after early retirement.

There is so much to enjoy without spending a dime!

Modern Japan is very fortunate and entertainment is very inexpensive.In my case, I enjoy the library, bicycles, muscle training, musical instruments, photography, etc. every day (these are almost free)

There are many costly but inexpensive things to do -> Amazon Prime, Open University, blogging, camping, annual passports (museums, botanical gardens, aquariums, amusement parks)Travel can also be enjoyed inexpensively through the use of unlimited ride tickets and overnight stays in cars.

In addition to these factors, the following three factors will greatly reduce your expenses in early retirement

  • Taxes will be much lower.
  • You can take advantage of cheaper times of the year.
  • You can buy money with time (the opposite of buying time with money).

Taxes will be much lower.

As a matter of course, if your income is reduced, taxes are also reduced.
Dividends from stocks are usually taxed at about 20%, but if your income is low, the tax rate will be reduced to about 5%.
Taxes go from 200,000 yen to a whopping 50,000 yen!
Health insurance premiums will also be lower, so life will be much easier.

You can take advantage of the cheapest time of the year.

Many company employees work during the daytime on weekdays.
Then, they tend to go out for fun on weekends and holidays, and eat out mainly in the evening.
However, if you retire early, you will have more free time.
Whether traveling or eating out, weekday daytime is still very reasonable.

It is also possible to travel during off periods.

In addition, "fewer customers" means "time savings.
Less waiting time, empty roads, etc. are very comfortable.

You can buy money with your time (the opposite version of buying time with money).

By using your time, you may be able to reduce your expenses.

  • Conduct various contracts such as cell phone, insurance, etc. by yourself on the Internet.
  • Use free parking lots when you travel instead of paid parking lots nearby.
  • Use unlimited tickets instead of express trains to save time.
  • I will not go to expensive restaurants, but buy good ingredients and cook them by myself (although it requires some skills).

I have saved several hundred thousand yen to several million yen by doing all the inheritance procedures by myself.However, be careful not to overdo it.

It is often said, If you spend an hour to save a dollar, you might as well take a part-time job for that hour.If you spend yourself in a balanced manner, your expenses after semi-retirement will be very low.

In older age, in addition to the above.

  • Food expenses will decrease as people eat less and less.
  • Decrease in overall spending due to less materialistic desires.
  • Decreased physical fitness and less money for travel and fun
  • Decrease in taxes

Decrease in taxes, etc. will further reduce spending.

For some people, the independence of their children and the full repayment of their mortgages will also have an impact.On the other hand, there are items that are likely to increase, such as medical expenses and nursing care costs.Still, in total, your expenses will be lower than before you retired.

What I Did for Early Retirement

Let me simply tell you about my experience!

Before obtaining a nursing license

  • Worked after high school.
  • Saved money and enrolled in Licensed Practical Nurse school
  • Obtain Licensed Practical Nurse license and work in a hospital for 5 years to save money.
  • Enroll in nursing school (2 year course). Because of unemployment insurance, I was able to study for 2 years while earning an income.

After obtaining nursing license

Use welfare benefits

  • Use employee dormitories to reduce housing costs.
  • Eat healthy and inexpensive meals at the company cafeteria
  • Medical subsidies→Medical expenses at my hospital were waived (except for medication).
  • Attend training programs with hospital subsidies

Start investing

  • Invested in high-dividend ETFs in the U.S.
  • Invested in Japanese individual stocks
  • Purchased investment trusts using Japan's tax-saving "NISA/iDeCo" system
  • Purchase and rent out single-family real estate (purchase and renovate older properties to reduce initial costs)
  • Spend 10% of income on personal investments (books, participation in training programs, etc.)


  • Use your nursing license to work part-time at night shifts, tour nurses, day services, etc.
  • Change jobs to increase income.
  • When changing jobs, use employment insurance to earn income or receive job training.
  • Save taxes by filing a tax return.

By combining these things with saving, I was able to retire early at the age of 35.

The three main factors that enabled me to achieve early retirement in my 30s were

  1. Saving money was never a struggle for me.
  2. My nursing license gave me a stable income and benefits package.
  3. I was able to increase my assets through solid investments (stocks and real estate).

I believe that this is the best way to retire.

The road to early retirement was not a hard one, but a very enjoyable one.And I hope to continue to enjoy my life after early retirement.

Thank you for reading!