Cost of Living in Tokyo

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: Looking forward to getting some enquiries...




Hi Terrie,

I'm seriously considering moving to Tokyo for further my career or start a fresh new life there.
Currently, I'm staying in Malaysia.

I need some advice from you regarding the cost of living in Japan. If I were to stay and work in Tokyo, what is the reasonable range of salary in order sustain and have some savings end of the month? (Please include other deduction)

Thank you.

Hello, i have a question. My friend and I are planning on moving to Japan around the same time. So we were thinking we could get share an apartment and we could both pay apart of the bill. But in Japan do they charge per person living in the apartment? Or is it a regular monthly payment if there are 2 people living there?

For apartments in Tokyo have a look at Metropolis classifieds:

Hello folks,

I'm gonna go to Tokyo for a week in summer. I need to know how much is it to stay there for a week. The airport ticket is up 180000 yen for me, but that's already settled, don't have to bother with it. I think the normal youth hotel (no luxury) could cost for a week max. 70000 yen. 7000-15000jpy for transpotation (no taxi). And eating for probably 50000 jpy. So I think that this is gonna cost max up to 200000jpy. Now I have another 200 grand for souvenirs, clothes and other stuff. Is 400000 enough for a week? My friend is gonna have 100000 yen, but if it's too low I'll lend him. So half million yen is enough?

i'd like to knw hw much money it had cost me 2 do an internship in tokyo for a period of 6 months. Since m nt getting paid--what m i suppose 2 take as budget for monthly expenses?

Hi everyone. The numbers above are for someone actually living in Tokyo. For anyone staying more briefly, the numbers for food and board will naturally be higher.

Although this article was written 3 years ago, the costs of living here in Japan have not really increased at all. However, the salaries being paid have come down about 10%-20% depending on what kind of work you do.

Regards, Terrie