The beautiful mountain views of Mount Fuji. The bright lights and non-stop action of Tokyo. The stunning city of Kyoto. With so much to offer, expatriates love living in Japan.
You can settle down and live a slow-paced life in a small, quiet village. Or you can live in an exciting, bustling city where there’s always something to do and see. No matter what type of lifestyle you’re seeking, you can find it in Japan.
But what does it cost to live there? Is it expensive? Can you afford it? Keep reading to learn more about the cost of living in Japan.
All prices are converted to US dollars.
Cost of Housing in Japan for Foreigners
As with all countries, the cost of living in Japan depends upon where in Japan you decide to settle down. Tokyo is by far the most expensive place to live. In fact, Tokyo was near the top of our list of the most expensive cities in the world.
Choose to live in a smaller city, such as Osaka or Kyoto, and the cost is living is between 20% – 30% less.
To rent a small one-bedroom apartment in the center of Tokyo, you can expect to spend about $1,092 per month. Opt for Kyoto or Osaka, and you can rent an apartment of the same size for $678 per month.
Need a larger place? A three-bedroom apartment in the center of Tokyo costs approximately $2,442 per month. Those rents drop to $1,355 and $1,220 in Kyoto and Osaka, respectively.
Outside the city center, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs $691 in Tokyo and about $490 in Kyoto or Osaka.
In addition, expect to spend between $155-$170 for utilities for a one-bedroom apartment plus $39-$44 for internet service.
Cost of Food and Entertainment in Japan
In Tokyo, you can expect to shell out $9.04 for an inexpensive lunchtime meal, while you’ll spend $7.68 in Osaka or Kyoto. A three-course dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant costs about $50 in Tokyo, but you can pay just $36 in Osaka and even a few dollars less in Kyoto.
Groceries cost about the same in all three cities, with a pound of chicken breast ranging from $3.00 to $3.50 and a gallon of milk ranging from $6 to $6.50. A 12-ounce bottle of imported beer costs $4.50, and you’ll spend between $2.00 and $2.25 for one dozen eggs.
As for entertainment, one movie ticket costs $16.27. Two theater tickets, with the best seats, cost $96. When it comes time to stay fit, expect to spend quite a bit for a monthly gym membership: $89 in Tokyo and Osaka and $54 in the city of Kyoto.
Cost of Transportation in Japan
With so much to do and see, there’s a good chance you’ll want to travel around, especially if you’re in Tokyo. You’ll pay $90 for a monthly public transit pass, approximately $6 for a one-mile taxi ride, and about $34 for a one-hour taxi ride. If you decide to drive yourself, one gallon of gas costs about $5.
Cost of Healthcare in Japan for Immigrants
The healthcare system in Japan is split into two sections; there is an employer-based system and a national healthcare system. If you spend more than three months in the country, you are required to enroll in one of the two systems.
A brief 15-minute visit to a doctor costs $48. Twelve doses of antibiotics will set you back about $11. An over-the-counter cold medicine, such as Tylenol, costs about $12 for a six-day supply.
Other Costs to Consider as an Expatriate
If you’re moving to Japan with children, keep in mind that the cost of international primary school education is very high. In Tokyo, one year’s tuition costs $18,875. In Osaka and Kyoto, you’ll spend about $14,000 per year.
It’s also important to weigh the cost of living against the average earned salary. Average monthly salaries (after taxes) are as follows:
- Tokyo: $2,835
- Osaka: $2,285
- Kyoto: $2,033
In comparison to most other countries, the cost of living in Japan is high, especially in Tokyo. But with so many fabulous locations to choose from, you can spend much less if you reside in a smaller city or outlying town.
- The Best Resources for Expats in Asia
- The Cheapest and Most Expensive Cities in Asia
- Teaching English as a Second Language