GPod 11: The Cost of Living in Japan

By

japanese-money
February 3, 2014

Tokyo is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, but how much does it actually cost to live here? On this episode of the GPod, Anthony is joined by Reno Tibke from AkihabaraNews to discuss the true cost of living in Tokyo.

We break down our monthly fixed living expenses, cover various transportation costs, internet connectivity and annual taxes that you will be required to pay.

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While the cost of living in Japan can vary greatly depending on the location, these numbers should give you a rough estimate of what it costs to start you new life in Japan.

We also briefly cover food and entertainment in the show but we didn’t include specific prices as those costs will vary depending on your lifestyle.

Anthony’s Expenses

Rent: ¥75,000
Gas: ¥3000 ~ ¥4500
Water: Included with the rent
Electric: Included with the rent
Home Internet: ¥6121
Mobile Phone: ¥7800
Transportation: ¥7600

Reno’s Expenses

Rent: ¥78,000
Gas: ¥3000 ~ ¥4500
Water: ¥2000
Electric: ¥5500 ~ ¥6500
Home Internet: ¥2500 (¥30,000 router cost)
Mobile Phone: ¥7800
Transportation: ¥12,800

Taxes

Salary Simulation provided by Capital Tax
Year 1 Year 2
Monthly Yearly Monthly Yearly
Base Salary 250,000 3,000,000 250,000 3,000,000
Health Insurance 12,961 155,532 12,961 155,532
Pension Insurance 22,256 267,072 22,256 267,072
Total Insurance 35,217 422,604 35,217 422,604
Inhabitant Tax 0 0 13,459 161,508
Income Tax 5,270 63,240 5,270 63,240
Total Deduction 40,487 485,844 53,946 647,352
Net Salary 209,513 2,514,156 196,054 2,352,648

 

While this list does not cover all expenses of living in Tokyo it does give you a rough estimate.

Due to time constraints we were not able to cover areas outside of Tokyo but if you are living outside of Tokyo feel free to post your expenses in the comments below.

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  • Daniel-Rey Ocampo

    So true. This just leaves you with roughly ¥30,000 for food allowance.

  • http://www.akihabaranews.com/ Reno J. Tibke

    For Anthony’s part, very well assembled and presented – I hope listeners find it useful!

  • Fransisco TS

    I live outside of Tokyo, which is Chiba city in Chiba Prefecture (about 40 minutes from Tokyo station via express train).
    My monthly expenses are as follow:

    Rent: JPY 19,000 (cheap because I live in my campus’ dormitory. Normal dorm costs you around JPY 50,000)
    Water: JPY 1,000-2,000 per two months
    Electricity: JPY 6,000-8,000
    Gas: none. We’re using electric stove and water boiler.
    Home internet: included in rent fee
    Phone: around JPY 6,100 (Softbank)
    Transportation: around JPY 3,000 (less if I walk to campus often)
    Food: around JPY40,000

    The expenses above do not cover shopping, and travel expenses on weekends or holidays.

    • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

      Awesome! Thanks @fransiscots:disqus for contributing this!

  • Jessica Fuller

    I live quite far away from Tokyo; Kurume (about 30 min. from Fukuoka) and here’s what my expenses look like:

    Rent: ¥34,000 (it comes with a TV, microwave, and wash machine)
    Water: ¥2,500
    Electricity: ¥2,500 – ¥4,000 (depends on the weather/season)
    Internet: ¥1,600 monthly (not wireless, provided by my apt.)
    Phone: I have no phone
    Transportation: ¥0 – ¥2,000 (I can usually walk everywhere in my town, and only take a bus when I am needed at another school)
    Cable: ¥6,100 (it came with the apartment and I’m working on canceling it)

  • Teal

    Just for comparison, I can list my expenses in the inaka.

    Rent: ¥23,000
    (this is subsidized, but real prices are not much more- maybe ¥350 per month. People often voluntarily move out of our tiny subsidized apartments and into normal ones)

    Gas: ¥3000 ~ ¥4500

    Water: ¥2500 (ish)

    Electric: ¥3500 (ish)

    Home Internet: ¥5500

    Mobile Phone: ¥7800

    Transportation: ¥35000 (you must have a car here)
    Kerosene: ¥4000 in the winter.

  • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

    A listener emailed me his list of expenses. Thanks so much for sending this!

    Place – Yamanashi
    ¥2,000,000 annual salary

    Rent: ¥60,000 (3LK 55m2)
    Gas: ~ ¥3000
    Water: ~ ¥3500
    Electric:~ ¥4000

    Home Internet: ¥3000
    Mobile Phone: ¥4000
    Transportation: ¥0 (bike/foot)

    Health Insurance ¥8400 (monthly)
    Pension Insurance ¥15000 (monthly)
    Inhabitant Tax ¥150000 (annually)
    Income Tax ¥50000 (annually)

  • Kenneth Lee

    I live 1500KM away from Tokyo in Kagoshima. Below is my living cost as uni student for reference

    Rent: 4700 (international student dorm, single room)
    Water+Electricity+Gas: 8000yen ++
    Home internet:100yen
    Phone: 8000(softbank iphone)
    Transportation: almost 0yen (1km from Dorm to Uni. 10minutes by bicycle.
    Food: 15000~25000yen (depend on the season)
    Insurance: 1600yen per month(kokumin hoken)

    Total Monthly Basic Expenses = about 45000yen

    Monthly Income ( Tutor for Uni and Part time at restaurant) & Scholarship
    Scholarship sponsor by local Kagoshima company 40,000yen/month
    Tutor income from Uni: 450,000yen/annual or 37500yen/month
    Part time at restaurant : about 30000+-

    Total monthly income = 107,500yen.

    Monthly income – Monthly Basic Expenses = about 50,000yen left
    Thats how i pay my university school fees 260,000yen annually (after 50% subsidy discount)

    • Fransisco TS

      Wow, university dorm in Kagoshima is sooo cheap :O

      • Kenneth Lee

        Yeah. Kagoshima is a great place for foreigner student. the rent is cheap, the town is small (almost anything you need can be access within bicycle travel distance). But it is furthest away from capital city which is deadly.

  • Nevaeh

    Just wanted to give a slightly different perspective, that of living in central Tokyo in a tower apartment. Thought it might be useful to those considering a move, especially because my expenses are much higher than those previously mentioned for the capital.

    Rent: 150,000 for rent and administration fees (1LDK mansion on the Yamanote line)
    Water: 4,000 / Gas: 6,000 / Electricity: 7,000-18,000 (depending on the month/usage – that’ll be the ACs, this month we’re over 20,000) / Internet: 3,500 / Phone: 6,000
    Transport: Company pays for regular commute, apart from that about 10,000 including a few taxi rides.
    Gym membership: 10,000
    Food: 50,000 – I usually prepare all my food and take a lunch box to work. If you’re not picky about what you eat (gyudon/soba/ramen/conveni) I feel it’s actually cheaper to eat out for lunch.

    When I lived in Tokorozawa (Saitama) the rent was 80,000 for a brand new apartment, great place if you have no issues with 2+ hours a day on overcrowded transport to commute to Tokyo.

  • http://girlandkat.com/ Elizabeth

    Living in Sapporo, my rent is JPY 78,500 for a 8.1 x 5 x 5 (tatami mat size) apartment.

    In winter, my bills can be high but that’s mainly driven up by having pets, meaning I leave an electric radiator on while I’m out. This drives the electric bill up to as much as JPY 15,000 and gas can be JPY 6,000 – 8,000. Summer is cheaper!

  • Bernie Low

    I live in Nishinomiya city in Hyogo prefecture (15 minutes from Osaka/Kobe via express train). For reference, I’m a university student.

    Rent: JPY 52,000 (fully furnished with small kitchen, washer and dryer. It’s an apartment that I rented from/through the uni)
    Water: JPY 1000 – 2000 (depending on how much I use)
    Electricity: JPY 2000 – 4000 (It’s 4000 and higher when I use the air con/heater rather frequently)
    Internet: Included in rent
    Phone: JPY 5200 – 7000 (au; 7000 if I call often. Includes unlimited data)
    Transport: JPY 5990 (3 month train pass to campus), <JYP 5000 for non-campus commuting
    Food: ~JPY 30000 (based on home cooked meals, school cafeteria and conbini)

    Does not include leisure expenditure, health insurance and other misc costs

  • Katarina

    I would say that all the above mentioned cost are similiar to if you live in Stockholm, Sweden. It doesn´t however say how big the apartment/house is for the mentioned rent. But for instance in central Stockholm you may easily have to pay 10.000 SEK (roughly 148.000 Yen) for a 2 room apartment. If you live in a suburb the cost drops with 1-2000 SEK.
    The food here in Sweden is expensive though and it is expensive to eat at a restaurant (if you don´t choose Subways or similar).

  • kokuyo

    I live in Edogawaku, Tokyo (closest station 15 mins walk, ~40 mins to Shinjuku Station, ~20 mins to Tokyo Station

    (Japanese Yen)
    Apartment: 43,000 (1R)
    Electricity: 3000-5000 (highest during winter)
    Water: 3000
    Gas: 2000-6000 (highest during winter)
    Mobile: 8000
    Internet (ADSL): 7000
    Transportation: 8,000
    Food: 30,000 (I don’t cook, I usually buy at the convenience store. the weekly or occasional dine in the restaurant is not included. 3000-5000 per meal, it depends on the restaurant and what I order)
    Dental fee: 2x a year “cleaning” ~ 1500 yen per visit
    Inhabitant tax: 150,000 annually

    GROSS Annual income: 2.8 M

  • Stephen Tetsu

    I live in Mito, about two hours north of Tokyo by train.

    Below is a rough estimate of my monthly costs:
    Apartment: 45,000 (1/2LDK)
    Electricity: 4500 (It’s winter and thus higher)
    Water: (included with my rent)
    Gas: 5000 (Once again, it’s winter)
    Cellphone: 8000
    Internet: 3700
    Transportation: I walk to work so 0
    Food: 35,000 (being really liberal with my guess here. Could be more but probably less)

    My overall gross income is roughly 2.8 million yen a year.

  • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

    Thanks for posting everyone! So good to get an estimate of what it costs to live in Japan and Sweden ;)

  • Ryan

    I live in Sagamihara, about 45 minutes west of Tokyo by train.
    Annual salary: 4.3 million yen
    List of costs (per month):
    1. Apartment (2LDK, ~50 sq. meters): 89,000 + 5,000 for maintenance
    2. Electricity: ~7,000 – 10,000
    3. Gas: ~3,000 – 4,000
    4. Water: 2,000
    5. Internet (high speed broadband): 4,500
    6. Cable: 3,000
    7. Mobile (iPhone + reg. flip phone): 8,500
    8. Food: ~50,000 (for myself and wife)
    9. Transportation: < 1,000 (I bike or walk most of the time)
    10: Health insurance: ~2,000

    • 8fold4noble

      I noticed you listed approximately 50,000 yen for food each month for you and your wife. Is this an error or no? That’s approximately $500 a month for food.

      • Susie

        50,000 sounds good to me, for two people. We spend about 80,000Y per month (two adults, including packed lunches, eating in season, local produce). We are very remote though, so that affects things. And there are no conbinis (yes, really!) or restaurants here – everything therefore has to be cooked from scratch.

        Gas – 10,000 summer, 15,000 winter – this one breaks my heart every month. We experimented with only washing pots in cold water this month so hoping it’ll be lower. Clearly can’t do that in the winter. I have no idea why this is so ridiculously expensive.

        Electric – 7,000 summer, 11,000 winter – we don’t scrimp on aircon or heating, so I don’t mind paying this, it’s worth it!

        Mobile – 7,000 x 2 – I think this, although standard, is shocking. My home country offers loyalty discounts for contract renewal and free upgrades – here you have to pay for the upgrades and the contract would have gone up by 2,000Y each per month! So, we have 4 year old phones now…

        Internet – 7,000

        Water – 3,500

        Commuting – 10,000 for me, other half bought a cheap bike, worked out great in the long run.

        No TV, cable or car – can’t afford it!

        • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

          Wow your gas bill is really high. Where do you live?

          Mine in Tokyo hovers around ¥4000 per month.

  • Gunma Guest

    Ota-shi, Gunma. 1h15 from Asakusa station in Tokyo (Monthly costs):

    Rent 42,000 (furnished Leo Palace, about 20m2)

    Electricity: 2,500

    Gas: 2,500

    Water: 2,000

    Phone: 8,000

    Internet: included in rent

    Transport: bike/foot

    Food: 30,000 with a bit of home cooking but regular eating out.

    Health Insurance: 2,200

    Habitation tax: 7,000

    Income tax: 5,000

    TOTAL: 101,200

    Gross Income: 230,000.

    Disposable Income: 128,800 (approx. $1,288)

  • Bryan Baier

    Niigata City (on the Sea of Japan Coast 200mi north of Tokyo) monthly costs
    Rent (in Niigata near a university) w/parking space and internet: ¥34,000

    Electricity (depends on the season): ~¥2300 (summer min) – ¥6,100 (winter max.)
    Water (billed every 2 months): ¥4,000
    Gas: ¥10,000

    iPhone: ¥13,000 (avg.)
    Kokumin Health Insurance: ¥19,700
    Residence Tax: ¥17,000
    Food: ¥25,000-¥30,000 (eating out frequently)
    Lease Car (rental fee, maintenance and insurance): ¥34,000
    Gasoline: ¥12,000

  • Tchuk Rolley

    A lot of good information on this article. What about if you own a house or an appartment, is there any tax? If so, how much is the tax per year?

    • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

      Good question. I have a show planned about tax coming soon.

  • Tiriri

    Living in Copenhagen, I would say that’s a pretty cheap rent! lol

  • Kumar Sai Smaran

    I am studying at a University near Nomi-shi,near Kanazawa, on the western coast of Japan.

    Rent : ~12500 yen per month

    Electricity+ Water + Gas = 5000 yen +

    Phone :8000 (softbank iphone)

    TRansportation : 0 yen (from dorm to university)

    But, University is in a remote place. Even to reach Kanazawa it takes more than an hour.

    Health Insurance : 15000 per month

    City tax : 75000 yen yearly

    Food expenses : Around 35000 per month (being vegetarian,it’s more expensive at times)

    This adds upto around 70000 per month .

    Apart from this, yearly tuition fees is around 267900 yen (if waiver is sanctioned), else this amount gets doubled

    This adds upto roughly 93000 per month or 115000 per month.

    Being remotely located, a return trip to Tokyo by train costs as much as ~29000 yen.

    Given the monthly salary of 140 000 yen, it hardly adds upto any savings, since a trip to home also costs a good deal of money.

  • ankur kulshrestha

    I would like to know prices of vegetables in Japan, Specifically nagoya. Can anybody help me with that?

  • Tumble Witt

    I live in Osaka, near the water.

    Rent: 71,000 for a 2DK somewhere between 35-40 sqaured meters.
    Electric: 3,000-8,000 depending on whether I need to heat the apt.
    Water: 2,100
    Internet: 5,000 for wicked fast speed
    Gas: 3,500ish
    Cell phone: 6,300

    Food: 40,000 ish if I eat out a fair bit… more if I spend more than 3 nights a month out partying in town. But I dont usually.
    Trains/cabs: 8,000-15,000 my company pays for a commuter pass into Nara which gets me across town for free. If I go somewhere off my line I have to pay though.

    Taxes/ insurances: 17,000ish a month

    With my salary, even after all that I can save about 70,000 yen a month if I don’t go overboard.

    • Rapixxx

      Thank you very much!

  • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

    Thanks Tumble. Great to have info from Osaka.

  • Mariela Rodriguez

    Hi! Cant even tell you how incredibly usefull this is for someone wanting to go to Japan. Thank you guys SO MUCH!
    Any ideas how to get an average of utilities costs for a restaurant in Tokyo? ♥

  • Erin Fellows

    How does the cost of living for two people compare, on a teacher’s salary? I’m looking to teach English and would like to be able to live with and support my boyfriend while in a mid-size to smaller city. He knows programming and may be able to find some freelance work coming from the U.S., but we are still curious how we might fare on one teacher’s salary alone. We don’t party and would probably balance cooking and eating out. Thank you for your perspectives on this; it offered quite a few valuable points that aren’t included in other articles I’ve read so far. Great stuff!

    • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

      It would depend on which city you live in but I would say that to support two people on a teachers salary would be tight. Not impossible but you’d have to budget very carefully.

      After taxes you’d probably clear a little less than ¥200,000. Budget at least half of that for rent and housing costs. Plus transportation, mobile, food etc.

      The other thing to think about is that if you are both native English speakers you can pick up some private lessons on the side to add to your income.

    • Jamming James

      As someone who lives in a medium-sized city and was supporting myself and my wife on my English teaching salary while my wife was between jobs, I think I can give you a good idea of what to expect.

      The total cost for rent, gas, electricity, water and internet for me comes to about 80000 Yen. On top of that you then have to take into account food, mobile costs etc. For me though, the total cost of everything, including fuel, car costs and 2 mobile contracts, comes to about 140000 Yen a month.

      It is definitely do-able, but like Anthony said, you will need to budget carefully to make it work. You and your boyfriend seem to be like my wife and I; dont party a lot, cook at home mostly and eat out occasionally. We are mostly homebodies, but even then we had enough left over to go to the movies, take a few trips etc. My point is, in a medium sized city, a teaching salary should hold you both over but you wont have the luxury of not having to take money in account when making deicisions.

  • Hugo van der Heide

    Living in Kayashima, Neyagawashi. About 30 minutes from big places like Umeda and Dotonbori.

    Rent: ¥64.000 (2-3 person house to this cost can be split)
    Gas: ¥4500
    Water: ¥3000
    Electric: ¥5000 ~ ¥5500
    Home Internet: ¥1800
    Mobile Phone: ¥0. (I have a phone from work)
    Transportation: ¥9,700

  • James

    How you were able to live with that salary? I’m new here in Tokyo and the numbers somewhat scares me.

  • MD Jennesell

    We live

  • バリオスガジャルド ナディア

    Out of curiosity I converted how much I pay for my own bills here in
    Sweden compared to japan. I used to live in Tokyo before.
    The cost would be a total of ¥113800. And i do not live in a capital city. Guess it’s not only Japan being expensive :P. Although many small things cost money in japan. Most of my money was spent traveling to places by train.

  • http://www.gaijinpot.com/ Anthony Joh

    Received this summary from a user in Saitama. Good info for anyone with a family.

    We live in a 5DK house in Saitama and now have 2 junior high school kids. We have about 6.5 million yen family gross income a year (400,000 yen net monthly) out from husband7s fulltime job, and my part-time teaching. We own a car as well with 2 parking spaces.

    List of costs (per month/year):

    1. Monthly Amort. : 70,000 yen

    2. Yearly House tax: 110,000 yen (about 10,000 yen monthly)

    3. Yearly Car Tax: 40,000 yen (3,500 monthly)

    4. Car license/Shaken and maintenance every 2 years: 150,000 yen~ (or 6,000 monthly)

    5. Gasoline per month: 8,000 yen just around Saitama, (more if we go to Tokyo by car once a month)

    6. Electricity: 20,000~ (in summer or winter) we use IH cooker these days; only 1 room with aircon at a time to conserve energy; fan in other rooms)

    7. Gas: 8,000~ for water heating/bath mostly (more if we cook using our gas range)

    8. Water: 3,000/month

    9. Internet (high speed broadband): 7,500

    10: 2 Iphones/Ipad/kids’ mobile ph: 30,000 yen

    11. Food: 80,000~ (with once a week restaurant lunch/dinner)

    12. Transportation: 3,000 (mostly for kids) (husband and I have company-paid train passes)

    13: Health insurance: 45,000 yen + 10,000 yen (30% of medical check-up costs/ dental, etc).

    14. Other utilities cost, bicycles, gardening cost, etc: 10,000

    15. Children’s Miscellaneous School Expenses and uniforms: 50,000 yen /month (Elem to JHS public schooling in Japan is free)

    Total Monthly Expense: 354,000 yen per family

    (With very little saved each month, we need extra jobs to be able to raise more funds for overseas travel, education, furniture, gadgets, appliances, etc.). As we own our house, I could use one room to earn extra (English tutorial/Eikaiwa) on days when I’m not teaching in the university . Hope this gives you a glimpse of what life there is in Saitama.

  • pd1986

    English teacher living in Minako City, Iwate Prefecture (Tohoku) – this is my 5th year

    Rent: ¥58,000 (including parking) 2DLK
    Gas: ¥3000 ~ ¥4500
    Water: ¥2000
    Electric: ¥300 ~ ¥4000
    Home Internet: ¥4000
    Mobile Phone: ¥8000 (iPhone 6+ with Softbank, voicemail, white plan)
    Transportation: ¥4000 (the company pays part of this back)

    My position is a driving position – so the company provide a rental car which I pay 18,000 towards per month.
    They cover ¥1200 towards transportation to and from school – the rest i pay for because it’s personal use.
    I play futsal one a week for free with a local group
    I play tennis 3-4 times a week with a local group (100-200yen per night)
    Pension and National health is about 40,000 per month (every month)
    City tax is about 38,000 (only 4 payments throughout the year)
    i spend about 30-40000 per month on food, eating out, and lunch for school

  • everythinggoes

    Anyway to live in Japan permanently, while you are looking for job? Can pay for own expenses etc.

    Cheers.

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