Cost of living in Japan (not just the city)

If day-dreams of life in Japan have reached the reality stage, living costs are likely to be the make-or-break factor in your calculations. Essentials like rent, bills, food and transport can soon add up, not to mention everyday extras like shopping, eating out and exploring your new base. With relatively high averages compared to other countries (roughly 30% higher than the UK, for example(1)), Japan can easily seem unattainable, but it doesn’t have to be.

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Japan?

Known worldwide as a buzzing metropolis of neon streets, incense-filled temples and incredible food, it’s no wonder Tokyo is the top choice for most people moving to Japan. As the 10th most expensive city in the world when it comes to rent, however, the capital city comes with a hefty price tag. Balancing average costs like a monthly transport ticket ($121/¥13,140), internet ($36/¥3,910), the odd cinema ticket ($15/ ¥1,600) and even your morning coffee ($4.20/¥450), it’s easy to see how city-life can add up(2).

Average Cost Of Living In Japan

According to government estimates, living in Tokyo increases your living costs by about 10% (and often more)(3) - making the countryside a tempting option (albeit with lower salaries). With commutable prefectures like Kanagawa and Saitama offering medium savings, distant rural areas like Akita, Aomori and Kagoshima have the lowest average rent prices - almost 50% lower than those of Tokyo(4). Along with rent, you can expect reductions in food prices thanks to the supply of locally-grown produce as well as savings on utilities, childcare and some transport.

One of the most promising aspects of living costs in Japan is the ability to make reductions. With cycling a popular option - even on the busy capital streets - plentiful public transport and popular car-sharing options, travel budgets are easy to cut. Share houses and smaller studio apartments make rent reduction possible while traditional entertainment costs can be lowered with trips to the free local sights like temples, museums and shrines.

From city to countryside, the living costs of Japan can vary extensively, and depending on your home country may not be all that different. Whatever you find, working out your expenses, making savings and adding up the benefits of a new experience should all be factored into your calculations.


By Lily Crossley-Baxter