Cost of Living in Japan

Cost of Living in JapanDespite the reputation Japan has as a country with an exorbitantly high cost of living for expats, 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 expats 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 usually 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.


Cost of transport in Japan

While public transportation in Japan is expensive, it is highly efficient and the easiest way to travel around the country.

Most expats living in Japan opt not to own their own vehicle. Driving is more trouble than it is worth in bustling Japanese cities. 

See Word Travels for currency exchange rates

Cost of living in Japan (Based on Tokyo, 2015) 

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)
Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
Furnished two-bedroom house JPY 230,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment JPY 150,000
Room in shared apartment JPY 80,000
Dozen eggs JPY 386
1 litre milk JPY 200
Loaf of bread (white) JPY 260
Chicken breasts (1kg) JPY 966
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) JPY 448
Utilities/Household (monthly)
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) JYP 42
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) JYP 3,900
Electricity (average per month for standard household) JYP 12,000
Eating out and entertainment
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two JYP 5,000
Take-away meal (e.g. Mcdonalds) JYP 680
Cappuccino JYP 428
Coca Cola (500ml) JYP 100
Beer in bar JYP 500
Taxi rate per km JYP 298
City centre train fare JYP 190
Petrol (per litre) JYP 150

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