It pays to have a bigger family in Japan

With three kids, your lifetime expenses are going to be larger than if you had two kids or one kid. Maybe orders of magnitude larger. However, the Japanese government does try to make things easier for you in the early stages. Here are two things that will help out in the first few years.

First, you’ll get an extra couple of points awarded to you on your daycare application. That might not sound like much, but in Tokyo where the competition to get into the daycare you’d like can be daunting, it can make a big difference. In my neck of the woods in Tokyo, nearly all families with two working parents are going to net 40 points on their application. They might get a few extra from already having another kid in the same daycare or other factors. Most, however, are going to sit at 40. Check out Guide to Navigating the Hoikuen System – Application Process and Tips ( for a great guide to all things points related. The kicker, though, is that with a third kid you get an automatic extra couple of points that will make it likely you can get the kid into the daycare of your choice.

Second, daycare for that child will be free. From the start.

Japan, at least Tokyo, shifted to making daycare free for ages 3 and up a couple of years ago. I was expecting to pay a significant sum on a monthly basis for our newborn like we did for the first two. But when the letter from the ward office came in the mail, it was showing zeros for every month over the next year. I read the fine print and saw that if this is your third or more child, that daycare is free.

So take those savings you made from not having to put them into daycare, but then into a low-cost index fund and you should also be setting yourself up well for helping them with college funds later in life as well.

Or just go out to dinner once in a while because you’re going to need the break from parenting those three kids anyway.