Cost of Living in Japan

cost of living in japanDespite the reputation Japan has as a nation with an exorbitantly high cost of living, it is quite possible to live a good life without breaking the bank.

It is important to remember that Japanese salaries are also quite high, and that the average Japanese standard of living ranks amongst the highest in the world.

Cost of food in Japan

Particularly in Tokyo, where competition is fierce, it is easy to find good deals on meals, evenings out and other forms of entertainment. Eating out can even work out cheaper than cooking at home if you don’t mind a frequent diet of noodles. It is also worthwhile to check out the basement floors of most department stores, where there are food courts selling goods at extremely reasonable prices.

While vegetables and fruit might seem very expensive at first, it is worth bearing in mind that they are in immaculate condition and are most probably locally grown. Seafood and fish are relatively cheap and most supermarkets offer evening discounts to get rid of that day’s stock (fresh foods are very rarely kept for sale on the next day).

Cost of accommodation in Japan

The largest expense an expat will have in Japan is accommodation.

There are a wide range of options available to suit every possible taste and preference, but competition is fierce and costs can be pricey even for small, sub-standard spaces.

A two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Tokyo will cost anywhere in the region of around JPY 100,000 to JPY 120,000 a month, and a room in a gaijin house around JPY 50,000.

Cost of entertainment in Japan

A beer will generally cost about JPY 200 to JPY 300- up to JPY 600 in a bar - and a good meal out with accompanying beer or sake (wine is quite expensive as it is imported) will cost around JPY 1000 to JPY 4000 per person. Cigarettes cost JYP 300 a packet. DVD hire generally costs about JYP 200, and works out much cheaper than movies, which can cost up to JYP 2000 per ticket.

Cost of transport in Japan

While public transportation in Japan is by no means cheap, it is highly efficient and by far the easiest way to travel around the country.

The cost of a single bus journey is around JPY 200 and the taxi fares start at around JPY 450 per km.

Most expats living in Japan opt not to own their own vehicle. Driving is more trouble than its worth in bustling Japanese cities. Car owners should expect to pay between JPY 30,000 to JPY 50,000 per month for a secure parking bay close to their home.

Petrol prices in Japan are constantly fluctuating but on average costs around JPY 150 per litre.

See Word Travels for currency exchange rates

Cost of living in Japan (2013) 

*All prices listed in Japanese Yen (JPY)
Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
Furnished 2 bedroom house JPY 200,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment JPY 114,000
Room in shared apartment JPY 50,000
Food and Drink
Dozen Eggs JPY 260
1 litre milk JPY 185
Loaf of bread (white) JPY 252
Whole Chicken JPY 900
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) JPY 300
Utilities/Household (monthly)
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) JYP 10
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) JYP 6.500
Electricity (average per month for standard household) JYP 10,667
Eating out and entertainment
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant
JYP 5,000
Big Mac meal JYP 663
Cappuccino JYP 425
Coca Cola (500ml) JYP 400
Beer in bar JYP 575
Taxi rate per km JYP 450
City centre bus fare/train fare (depending on country)Aspirin (100 tablets) JYP 218
Petrol/Gasoline (per litre) JYP 150

Become our local expat expert for your area!

Expat Arrivals is looking for contributors to make this the ultimate guide for international expats.

If you are an established expat who could make time to write useful information for expats in your city and answering forum questions from new and prospective expats, please contact us.

As our local expert you can have your profile showing on each page you publish, and will have an option to promote your website or blog.

Got a question about your new country?

Search Expat Arrivals

You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Login with your Facebook account (Recommended)