Cost of Living in Tokyo
For many of us, the prospect of moving and living in Japan is both exciting yet daunting. Especially for those coming here on a tight budget, Japan's reputation as the most expensive country in the world in which to live, certainly doesn't help. So, this week, I'd like to cover some of the typical costs of living here. This is purely a guide only, you can do it both cheaper and much more comfortably. Also, I chose Tokyo, since it surely is the most expensive place in Japan in which to live.
Up front, let's make a simple monthly budget, then I'll explain the numbers.
Base Salary------------ JPY350,000
Tax (first year) ------------JPY 35,000
Shakai hoken ------------JPY 50,000
Rent (2-room apartment)------------ JPY 85,000
Utilities, phone, etc.------------ JPY 20,000
Food (careful planning) ------------JPY 60,000
Commuting costs------------ JPY 0
Savings: ------------JPY 100,000
Tax in the first year of working in Japan is levied only at the national level. More tax needs to be paid from your second year (levied on whatever you earned in the first year), and this is paid to the local government.
Shakai Hoken is Japan's packaged social insurance and covers pension, unemployment insurance, and health contributions. Everyone is supposed to pay this if they are working for a Japanese company, but in reality, small companies and independent contractors often don't.
The rent is a typical 2DK apartment about 40-60 minutes train ride from Shinjuku or main Tokyo stations. How big? About 30-40 sq. m. Don't forget that you will also need 6 months deposit/rent to cover the various payments needed to contract yourself into an apartment and only some of this deposit will be refunded. It can be worth shopping around though, as sometimes you are able to negotiate this first payment.
I allowed a food regime which has you eating out for lunch and at home for dinner - and eating mainly Japanese style foods (lots of fish rather than steak). Eating out for lunch in Japan has to be one of the best deals anywhere. You can go eat a hot meal at almost any decent restaurant for up to and around JPY1,000 ($8.35).
Commuting costs. This is where Japan's lifestyle can really work to your advantage. Whereas in most other countries you HAVE to have a car, in Japan, the public transport is quicker, easier, and of course much cheaper. There are trains and buses just about everywhere. As a consequence, it is customary for Japanese companies to pay for their employees' transport costs - usually up to a maximum of between JPY25,000 to JPY40,000 per month.
As always, my contact details are simply: email@example.com. Looking forward to getting some enquiries...