Expatriates living in Kobe will have access to both the Employees’ Health Insurance program provided by their employer, and the National Health Insurance scheme, which covers up to 70% of medical costs. You will need to register at the local city hall in order to qualify for these schemes.
Expatriates living in Kobe for less than a year will not have access to the public healthcare schemes, and as such will need to take out private medical insurance for the duration of their stay. Although the quality of care and the standard of the facilities in the public healthcare system are very good, it is unlikely that all doctors and staff will speak English, so expats living in Kobe should be prepared for some issues in communication at hospitals and pharmacies.
Japan has an excellent public education system, and as one of its major cities, Kobe is home to some of the best schools in the country.
If your children cannot speak and read Japanese, then they will need to attend an international school where they will be taught in English. Due to the large number of expatriates and foreign corporations located in the city, Kobe has many international schools that would be suitable for the children of expatriates. These include the Marist Brothers International School, the Canadian Academy, St. Michael's International School, and the European School Kobe.
Kobe is home to a number of public and private universities, and as such has a large student population. The main universities in Kobe are Kobe University, the University of Hyōgo, and Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.
Expatriates living in Kobe will not be able to use their foreign driver’s license to drive legally on the road. Instead they must purchase an international drivers permit, and after one year obtain a Japanese driving license. For many nationalities, you should be able to transfer the license from your home country, so you won't need to take the Japanese driving examinations.
As a major city, Kobe does experience congestion, and traffic jams are common. However, due to the city's extensive public transport network, which is the second largest in Japan behind only Tokyo's, many people choose not to drive in the city center. There are three intercity rail lines and many suburban services, all of which converge at Sannomiya Station, the main commuter hub in the city. There is also a two-line subway system, which is used mainly by commuters, as well as bus services.