Yokohama is full of expats. Join expat groups and build your own support team. There are also groups that sort of help foreigners experience the real Japan. Join these groups as well for an authentic immersion in the Japanese culture.
Everything in Japan is expensive. However, if you buy food stuff after 6pm, they are already on sale.
Public transport is very efficient. No need to buy a car.
Try to learn nihonggo. It will make a big difference in your life there.
Try to avoid techie stores. Otherwise you will end up with a house full of gadgets which you will realize later on, are utter waste of money.
Yokohama’s cost of living differs only slightly from Tokyo’s, and compares to New York City or London, with differences in some categories, higher or lower than expected. Housing that meets foreign standards is expensive. On the bright side, the people are quiet and helpful, and the city has something for everyone.
Lots of opportunities in Yokohama. Start with Gaijinpot, even though usually it's not so great, my first part-time job came from an English language school in Yokohama contacting me after seeing my resume. Also, there are various English conversation cafes and whatnot that are always hiring.
If you get sick, I highly recommend Keiyu Hospital in Minato Mirai. The waits are long, but the doctors are great. If you need to a neurologist, I can recommend an amazing one in the Kannai area. My immune system is shit, so I make it a point to find the best healthcare providers.
Yokohama's great for a lot of different things, from the night time entertainment in Minato Mirai to being close to a lot of other great places like Kawasaki and even Tokyo (20 minutes on the Tokaido).
I don't know if you're with the dorm or not, but if you're not, try to find a sharehouse or something to save money on living costs. Living by yourself here is a nightmare if you don't know what you're up against.
You're probably going to be English teaching or modeling (if you're lucky). Translation jobs and other jobs usually require intensive Japanese studies or REALLY GOOD connections. You can only work 28 hours a week, but if you use sites like Mysensei.com, you can set your rates and make your own hours under the table. Careful though, the Gaisen are rampant on these sites and you might have people wanting more than English. >.>
Health insurance here is awesome, so get it right away. I know of a good clinic kinda far away (Shimo-Kitazawa) where the guy running it has his American Degree in Medicine (Anesthesiology) and he speaks English fluently. Good place to get some American prescriptions as well.
I live in Yokohama, welcome!
For apartment Visa stuff, I moved from Shiga to Yokohama around the time my Visa was expiring/being renewed. The realtor talked to me and emailed me property links, but hounded me non-stop about needing a copy of my updated Visa. No paperwork could be signed until he had a copy.
Also, I had to visit a branch office to sign the papers, couldn't do it over mail.
So I imagine you can't select a place, but maybe you could talk to a realtor and they could start browsing around for you.
For guarantor, it depends on the place. Maybe a company, maybe your company, maybe a person.
Also, they may require an emergency contact, not sure if this is the same as guarantor? One place required a Japanese contact, but my current place was fine with a foreign resident as my contact.
If you stay in a short term apartment, I think you can arrange online?or at least quickly when you arrive. That will give you time to get a feel for where you want to be . Where you work vs where you play and what train lines you use.
I chose my apartment unseen because I was in a rush, and boy do I hate it. Its steep uphill from the station, and that sucks every day.
For banks, my company required Japan Post Bank, so that is what I have. It got set up the same day I went to open the account, just had to fill out the papers. Biggest issue was that the name must match your passport, and my name was too long to fit on the form boxes. I had to do two letters per box.
I also have a Seven Bank account (7-11 company) for a JCB debit card. I kept getting denied for a credit card my first year.
For money transfers, I use transferwise.
For expenses, check about pension and health insurance. Is your company paying for those, or are you? The Gov will seize your assets if they find out you're not paying pension.
Make sure you know WHEN you'll be getting your first paycheck. My company pays once a month, for the previous month. So, starting in July, I wouldn't be paid until endish of August. Be sure you'll have enough money.
kobe is cheaper than yokohama. but it's also sleepier. Everything in Japan is so tokyo-centric.
But Kobe is a wonderful city to live in. Great place to raise kids.
Enjoy living overseas! It was a great experience for us. I do have a few suggestions.
1. Read the book Crossing Cultures. It's got great advice for the move overseas, as well as the challenges when you come back home. You should be able to get it on Amazon for under $10.
2. Get a SKYPE acct. It's a great communication tool. You can even get a US number for friends to call you at anytime.
3. Check the web for an expat womans group, as well as international schools. I realize your child is too young for school, but they are a great community to get involved with, as well as a super resource. Websites, might also have tips for moving to the area - what things cost, where to get them, etc.
4. If you are a reader, check out a Kindle - you wouldn't have to waist your container space on books. We stocked up on DVD's but my kids were older and it was always great to have the movie library.
5. Look into an English speaking church. We found a great nondenominational Protestant one that was another great connection.
6. Keep a journal. You're going to have a lot of experiences that you won't want to forget. Also keep a camera handy.
I think you'll find the expat community very welcoming - they've all been thru the same thing, and can help you along.
It's likely harder to find work in Kobe; Yokohama is close to Tokyo where most large companies are headquartered, so will be a better choice especially if your Japanese language skills are low and you prefer or need to work in an English company environment.
I don't think that Yokohama is particularly expensive, and I like the area a lot. I've never lived in Osaka or Kobe, but I like Tokyo a lot and go to Yokohama really often, so I'd definitely choose Yokohama over Kobe. In fact, I may move to Yokohama later this year myself.