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What Is the Average Cost of Living in Japan?

It's not as expensive as you might think.

By 4 min read

Japan once had a reputation for having a high cost of living. Previous surveys, such as the one by global consulting firm Mercer, have shown that Tokyo has dropped ten spots. Currently, Tokyo holds 19th place, well behind Hong Kong (1), Singapore (2), and Shanghai (12), which are the most expensive cities to live in.

Despite the lower ranking, the question remains for people who want to move here: “Can I afford to live in Japan?” The answer is still “yes!” According to sourced data, the average monthly cost of living in Japan in 2024 for one person is roughly ¥166,773 or $1,071.24. Here’s what you need to factor in to understand how much it costs to live in Japan.

Calculating the Cost of Living in Japan

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What do you need to factor in?

The cost of living measures the balance between how much money you need to spend to live your daily life and how much you earn. It goes without saying that the higher the cost of living, the less money you have left. Our calculation is based on local data, so you can determine what it roughly costs to live in Japan, not just on the glossy surface of its capital.

Average Expenditure of a Japanese Household

The latest data on food spending from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2024 shows that the average national food and drink expenses for a single household was ¥41,009 monthly. That included ¥2,602 for cereals such as rice, bread and noodles, ¥4,330 for meat and fish and ¥5,167 for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Average Monthly Expenditure for Food ¥41,009
Cereals ¥2,602
Seafood ¥2,100
Meat ¥2,230
Dairy ¥1,802
Vegetables and Seaweed ¥3,623
Fruit ¥1,544
Fats and oils and seasonings ¥1,578
Confectionery ¥3,311
Prepared Food ¥7,502
Drink ¥2,870
Liquor ¥1,787
Eating out ¥9,862

Utilities, including electricity, gas and water, cost ¥13,045 per month. Although we can’t do without these services, we can always conserve our usage and trim our expenditures. Check out our article on tips on saving money in Japan and ways to do that.

Average Monthly Costs for Utilities ¥13,045
Electricity ¥7,150
Gas ¥3,884
Water ¥2,216
Other ¥1,569

Transport and communications services are estimated at ¥22,665 a month. Other monthly figures include ¥4,684 for furniture and household products, ¥4,182 for clothing and footwear, ¥8,218 for health care supplies and equipment and ¥14,497 for miscellaneous spending such as beauty services and entertainment. All these expenditures add up to a total of ¥108,300 for one person.

Rent in Japan

One of our biggest living costs is rent. Tokyo is home to Japan’s most expensive properties, as all realms of real estate, including offices, shops, and housing, compete for space in the metropolis. Data from Japanese real estate leasing company at Home tells us that the average monthly rent for a one-room or studio apartment in Tokyo is ¥94,694. It drops significantly once you look in Osaka, at ¥58,859, and further still in one of Japan’s most rural areas, Hokkaido, where it’s just ¥34,081. The average of these three figures is ¥62,544.

Taxes, Pensions and Health insurance

This is the last piece of our cost of living calculation. All these taxes and fees vary according to salary, location and the presence of dependents. We’ll calculate a general figure here, but you can check further details in the Japan 101 article that covers them.

Taxable Income Tax Rates
Up to ¥1,950,000 5%
Over ¥1,950,000 Up to ¥3,300,000 10%
Over ¥3,300,000 Up to ¥6,950,000 20%
Over ¥6,950,000 Up to ¥9,000,000 23%
Over ¥9,000,000 Up to ¥18,000,000 33%
Over ¥18,000,000 Up to ¥40,000,000 40%
Over ¥40,000,000 45%

Income tax in Japan is calculated based on a percentage of your salary. If you earn between ¥3,300,000 and ¥6,950,000 annually, you’ll be taxed at a rate of 20%. Considering the average salary in Japan is ¥4.58 million, it falls within this bracket.

Additionally, there’s a prefectural tax of about 4% and a residence or municipal tax of 6%, which are deducted along with income tax.

Full-time employees also have 10% deducted from their paycheck to cover Employees’ Health Insurance and Pension, which includes unemployment insurance. Even part-time workers must enroll in health insurance and the national pension system.

These taxes amount to approximately 40% of income, providing a rough estimate of your overall tax burden.

How much does it cost to live in Japan?

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How much it will cost to live in Japan depends on many factors.

According to the latest data from the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the average monthly expenditure in Japan is ¥166,773. Note that these calculations are based on averages from the sourced data. How much it will actually cost you depends on many variable factors. However, the point is that Japan is still an affordable place to live in 2024.

Will Japan be Cheaper In The Future?

Rent in Tokyo has been rising and is expected to continue rising as families and elderly people move to its central wards. In addition, overall wage growth is also quite slow. At a time when the global economy is riddled with uncertainties, Japanese companies are reluctant to hire full-time workers amid concerns over the outlook for the economy. It is a time of number-crunching throughout Japan for households and businesses.

Under such conditions, having a career strategy in place is a good idea to move you up the earnings scale. Read our earlier article in this series, What Is the Average Salary in Japan in 2024? to learn which job fields will allow you to earn more.

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