Cost Of Living In Japan: Is Japan Expensive?

Cost Of Living In Japan: Is Japan Expensive?

Japan has seen a lot of interest from the outside world, especially the West in recent years. With Tokyo having the largest urban population of any city in the world, it’s easy to see why. But what about costs? If you’re planning on relocating or just visiting Japan can you be sure you’re fully prepared for dealing with high living costs? For example, it may come as a surprise that an average meal out can cost as much as ¥1,500! And if you thought these prices were high don’t worry there are lots more to come.

Though Tokyo and Osaka are often considered the most expensive Japanese cities, the country’s cost of living varies significantly depending on where you live. And since Japan is blessed with four distinct seasons and has more mountains, beaches, and historical sites than any other country in the world, most expats end up loving Japan’s diverse landscape.

Is Japan Expensive To Live In?

Living in Tokyo is an expensive affair, with the city ranking sixth most expensive in the world behind cities like Geneva and London. To give you a better idea of how expensive it is to live, we’ve created a cost of living index for Tokyo. It’s difficult to compare China, where many people don’t pay rent and there are fewer housing costs, and Japan, which has one of the highest prices in the world for virtually everything but rent, especially when comparing New York City or Los Angeles.

The overall global cost of living index runs at 100. In other words, if life costs you a hundred bucks in New York, it should cost $100 in Tokyo too. But since we all know that doesn’t happen – Tokyo is consistently ranked way higher than NYC on any expat ‘cost of living list, let’s just call this our “Tokyo Index”. The following guide provides expat costs based on their city of residence in Japan. If you have been thinking about exploring the Land of the Rising Sun and currently don’t live there, be sure to take these figures into account before you decide.


The question is, is it really expensive to live in Japan? Well, it is and it isn’t, many factors determine the cost of living and what kind of lifestyle you will have.


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Most people think living in Japan is expensive (it is), but this isn’t always the case. If you can avoid certain mistakes and live a frugal life then you can save a lot of money. Let’s talk about how to keep costs down so you can enjoy living here for a long time.

Also, the high cost of living in Japan is the main reason for working and living in Japan, besides being able to travel around Asia. The flip side of the high cost of living is that those with good jobs are paid very well. A single person estimated monthly expenses are 119,722 ¥ without rent while a family of four estimated monthly expenses is 429,396 ¥ without rent.

How Much Money Do I Need To Live Comfortably In Japan?

The cost of living in Japan is among the highest in the world with Tokyo being one of the most expensive cities. However, comfort and lifestyle are another matter altogether and it’s not just a matter of having enough money to cover your expenses. The cost of living varies across the country due to factors like location, proximity to larger city centers, prevailing local amenities and available transportation options, culture, and customs as well as personal preferences and life choices.

The average salary in Tokyo is close to ¥3.993 million ($28,830) per year, which is much higher than the average salary in Western Europe or America. But this might be enough to cover your expenses and not a household of four persons, so you have to find ways to save money every day and yet enjoy your time in Japan.

Is It Cheaper To Live In Japan Than In The US?

​Anyone living in Japan will tell you that it is peculiar when compared to Western countries. The prices are always much higher than in the US or Europe but the salary is quite low​ for the equivalent job. This is a common issue for anyone who wants to work in Japan and make decent money but cannot afford to pay for the high cost of living. There’s a solution, however, a way to make things cheaper: Carefully select your place of living.


Cost Of Living: What Are The Living Expenses In Japan?

Japan is a well-known international hub for expatriates and foreign companies to do business. In the capital city of Tokyo, you can find a considerable number of attractions and things to do, restaurants and shops to visit, and housing options available for locals, employees, and expats alike.

In Japan, the prices vary greatly depending on how much one shops, has a “Western” lifestyle or lives near the coast. That said, there are certain things that most are going to want/need if they plan to live there. For example, buying a bicycle and renting (or home ownership) are two expenses that are almost unavoidable and cost-effective if you live by the coast.

The cost of living in Japan is generally expensive. However, if you consider the difference between your own country and Japan, and make a detailed breakdown of the monthly expenses in Japan, you will find that your life in Japan can be more affordable than you think. If you are considering working and living in Japan but are concerned about the expenses related to it, this article will provide you with some useful insights into how life is in Japan.

Japan is a country where the prices of basic goods are pretty much on par with Western countries due to its high-income taxes, there are higher costs for things like food and transportation.

However, in many cases, there’s more variety and some things cost less than what you would have to pay in your home country. Let’s take a look at some of these basic items you’ll need in Japan and how much you can expect to pay for them. Are you moving to Japan and curious about the cost of living? Maybe you are just wondering how much those little items, like coffee cups and chocolate bars, cost over there. Either way, I’ve got you covered.

The cost of food in Japan is considerably cheaper than in other expensive and developed parts of the world, but not necessarily prohibitively. There is the average cost of living in Japan, but the truth is that it can vary depending on what area you live in and what kind of food you eat. In urban areas like Tokyo, certain things are more expensive than in other parts of Japan or other parts of the world for that matter. Before relocating to any country, you should consider the price differences to ensure that you can afford the lifestyle you want and need.

Cost Of A Meal & Restaurants Food Prices In Japan

A list of restaurants, bars, and other culinary treats in the various districts of Japan. The prices have been listed per meal based on the number of people (usually two) and range from 900~8,000 yen per person. Price of food sold in Restaurants in Japan: a guide to the cost of eating out.

MealPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant1,000.00 ¥
  Three-course Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant.5,800.00 ¥
McMeal at McDonald’s (or Equivalent Combo Meal in a Food Chain Restaurant)900.00 ¥
Domestic Beer (0.5L)600.00 ¥
Imported Beer (0.33L)700.00 ¥
Regular Cappuccino627.98 ¥
Coke/Pepsi (0.33L)346.47 ¥
Water (0.33L)310.50 ¥

Cost Of Groceries & Consumer Goods In Japan

The market price of food in Japan consists of various food products, raw materials, and other goods. The prices are often much different from the corresponding ones in many western countries and change greatly depending on the location and assortment.

In today’s times when the cost of living has reached its peak and is growing by the day, many people are thinking about moving to other countries to avoid financial troubles. Japan whether categorized as an Asian country or not is indeed one of the most sought-after destinations in Asia. Its high growth rate makes it stand out due to its reasonable economic climate.

This table will show you the average price of everyday food in Japan.

GroceriesPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Regular Milk (1L)250.71 ¥
Loaf of Fresh Bread (500g)260.43 ¥
White Rice (1Kg)600.69 ¥
Eggs (regular) (12)300.48 ¥
Local Cheese (1Kg)2,224.90 ¥
Chicken Fillets (1Kg)979.12 ¥
Beef Round (1Kg)3,457.49 ¥
Apples (1Kg)824.01 ¥
Banana (1Kg)437.43 ¥
Oranges (1Kg)618.92 ¥
Tomato (1Kg)621.71 ¥
Potato (1Kg)444.77 ¥
Onion (1Kg)339.00 ¥
Lettuce (1 head)186.57 ¥
Water (1.5L)124.12 ¥
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)1,000.00 ¥
Domestic Beer (0.5L)288.08 ¥
Imported Beer (0.33L)361.00 ¥
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)540.00 ¥

Cost Of Transportation and Travels In Japan

Japan is that one country with a reputation for having some of the best transport systems in the world. However, it is also a place where you must continually adapt to new circumstances and life expectations.

When you traveled to a different country, the cost of transportation is one of the biggest expenses. Being cheap and flexible, public transportation in Japan is excellent, so you can get around by just using the train. Sure, there may be a couple of lines missing here and there, and this might make your trip take a bit longer than you want, but it will get you there. And once you’re there, you’ll find that everything is extremely close together.

Even if the place you want to visit is on the other side of town, it will still only be a short ride away. But it ended up being convenient and we realized that using buses, trains, and subway systems was the way to go for finding our way around Japan easily and inexpensively.

Transport FaresPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
One-way Ticket250.00 ¥
Monthly Ticket (Public Transport)9,500.00 ¥
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)730.00 ¥
Taxi 1km Ride (Normal Tariff)510.00 ¥
Taxi 1hour Ride (Normal Tariff)3,000.00 ¥
Gasoline (1L) (1/4 gallon)161.91 ¥
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)2,800,000.00 ¥
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car)2,240,768.09 ¥

Cost Of Basic Utilities In Japan

The cost of living in Japan is quite high by Asian standards. Basic utilities are more expensive than other options available including standard air-conditioning and heating, a hot water system, and a refrigerator. But it is not that difficult to live on a tight budget in Japan. If you’ve just arrived there, try to get your accommodation first, before you concern yourself with utilities. Electricity and gas are considered the most expensive utilities in Japan.

UtilityPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) Utilities for a person in a 45m2 Apartment12,692 ¥
  Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) Utilities for 2 people in an 85m2 Apartment21,899.64 ¥
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)48 ¥
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)4,684.74 ¥

Cost Of Entertainment In Japan

Japan is truly a unique place for entertainment and amusement. You could have so much fun here that you won’t even realize how time flies. Now, you may be wondering, is it worth spending my hard-earned money in Japan? What kind of things can I do here that I can’t do at home?

Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Some say it’s only for rich people, but even a normal office worker can enjoy many forms of entertainment. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy your free time in Japan.

Leisure & SportsPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Fitness Club Membership, Monthly8,489.52 ¥
Tennis Court Rent2,753.86 ¥
Cinema Tickets, 1 Seat1,800.00 ¥
iPad, Wi-Fi, 128GB58,870 ¥

Cost Of Childcare and Education In Japan

Education in Japan is extremely competitive, and the fact that there are a lot of English-speaking expats in Japan poses some unique challenges. As an expat, you are likely to be confronted with a wide range of institutions offering different types of education ranging from everyday kindergartens to exclusive universities. As such, choosing an educational institution for your child or yourself might appear daunting at first.

Education in Japan is compulsory at the elementary and lower secondary levels. It is provided free of charge and is enforced by the compulsory education law. Most children aged 6 to 15 attend public schools which are run by the local boards of education. Private schools also exist, but attendance is low, at 7 percent of secondary students and 2 percent of primary students

School TuitionPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child55,284.24 ¥
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child1,841,571.25 ¥
International High School, Yearly for 1 Child571,000 ¥ – 1,269,000 ¥
College and University, Yearly for 1 Student929,000 ¥ – 1,100,000 ¥
The Average Living Expenses for Students (rent, food, utility, entertainment, transport, and insurance)200,000 ¥

Cost Of Clothing In Japan

Clothing is the easiest thing to buy in Japan. There are a wide variety of small shops and markets (100-yen shops, usually large, low-cost stores) that sell cheap clothing that you can wear every day. The clothes look almost like the goods you can get in a Walmart or Target store.

Ever wondered how much a pair of jeans might cost in Japan? Or maybe what about a pair of Nike Sneakers? Below you will find essential information that tells you how much things cost in Japan.

Clothing & AccessoriesPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar)7,142.25¥
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …)5,423.80 ¥
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Adidas, Nike…)9,019.73 ¥
1 Pair of Men’s Leather Business Shoes13,163.87 ¥

Cost Of Personal & Healthcare In Japan

Health and personal care in Japan are more affordable than you think. The Japanese government runs a health insurance plan for all residents, and citizens are guaranteed free access to public hospitals. On top of that, many local municipalities also offer free or low-cost health services, further enhancing access to healthcare. In addition, the Japanese enjoy universal access to low-cost prescription drugs, with the government providing a subsidy for consumers for buying medications.

While some things certainly are cheaper (shampoo, deodorant, etc.), many personal care products such as razors and haircare items are more expensive here in Japan. Let’s look at the price of some personal care products available in the country.

Care ProductsPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Medications for Cold (Tylenol, Coldrex…)1,570 ¥
Box of Antibiotics (12 doses)2,055 ¥
15 mins Visit a Private Doctor4,311 ¥
Box of 32 Tampons (Tampax…)2,206 ¥
Deodorant & Roll-on (50mL – 1.5oz.)648 ¥
Hair Shampoo 2-in-1 (400mL – 12oz.)409 ¥
4 Rolls of Toilet Paper250 ¥
Tube of Toothpaste200 ¥
Standard Men’s Haircut in the City5,009 ¥
Standard Men’s Haircut in the Suburb3,509 ¥

Cost Of Housing and Accommodation In Japan

There are dozens of reasons to consider living in Japan but one of the biggest is its low cost of living. Whether you are looking for buying a home or renting an apartment, housing in Japan is very affordable. Below I have put together some helpful resources for people moving to Japan.

 The cost of living in Japan is on the high side, but if you compare it to western nations like the United States, the UK, or Australia, housing is much more affordable. Japan has a very low unemployment rate and a fairly high standard of living.

AccommodationPrice in Japanese Yen (¥)
Monthly Rent for a 1-bedroom Apartment in the City102,288.42 ¥
Monthly Rent for a 1-bedroom Apartment in the Suburb63,477.92 ¥
Monthly Rent for a 2-bedroom Apartment in the City188,782.19 ¥
Monthly Rent for a 2-bedroom Apartment in the Suburb120,642.94 ¥
Monthly Rent for a 3-bedroom Apartment in the City272,751.67 ¥
   Monthly Rent for a 3-bedroom Apartment in the Suburb157,186.45 ¥
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City889,036.31 ¥
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in Suburb120,642.94 ¥

The cost of living in Japan is roughly $20,000 per year for an individual and about $35,000 for a family of four. Japan has a reputation for being an expensive country, but it’s not as bad as some people might think. The cost of living in Japan isn’t that much higher than in other major cities around the world.

The necessities like food and transportation are more expensive than in other countries, but entertainment options and certain services cost less than they do in North America or Europe. If you’re moving to Japan, you can expect your expenses to increase. This guide will help you understand what those costs may be and how to manage them.

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