Tokyo is infamous for its high cost of living. This is evidenced by Tokyo being ranked 2nd in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2019. It's much more expensive than cities like Osaka when it comes to accommodation and food.

However, with the level of salaries being offered in Tokyo, it is still possible for expats to build a comfortable life for themselves.

Cost of food in Tokyo

When it comes to food, standards are high. It's easy to find delicious food around every corner of the city. Competition between businesses is fierce, which makes it easy to find good deals on most meals. 

Buying food at a restaurant can sometimes be cheaper than buying groceries. One of the most affordable options are the 'bento boxes' that are available from convenience stores. Basement floors of most department stores also have food courts selling meals at reasonable prices.

The price of produce in Tokyo is higher than some expats may be used to. However, this is again where the high standard of food comes in. Seafood and fish are relatively cheap. Many supermarkets offer evening discounts to get rid of the day’s stock.

Cost of accommodation in Tokyo

The largest expense an expat will have in Tokyo is accommodation. Apartments are the most popular form of accommodation for expats. Monthly rental fees can be sky high for housing that is often much smaller than expats are used to. Expats should also keep in mind that there are other fees involved when moving into a place initially. Extra costs that need to be budgeted for are deposit, key money, first month’s rent in advance and agency fees. 

Cost of transport in Tokyo

Due to the high cost of parking in Tokyo, most expats choose to use public transport instead of driving or owning a car. 

In comparison to other Asian capitals like Seoul, public transport is expensive in Tokyo. However, it's also extremely efficient. Interestingly, public transport is cheaper in Tokyo than in other major cities like Osaka or Nagoya.

Cost of schooling in Tokyo

Many families moving to Tokyo choose to send their children to international schools. There are many international schools with high standards in Tokyo. Tuition fees vary greatly between schools but it tends to be expensive. Parents should also keep in mind that they will have to budget extra for registration fees, uniforms, books and excursions. 

Cost of living in Tokyo chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Tokyo in May 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

JPY 155,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

JPY 300,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

JPY 78,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

JPY 130,000


Dozen eggs

JPY 250

Milk (1 litre)

JPY 195

Loaf of white bread

JPY 202

Rice (1kg)

JPY 625

Chicken breasts (1kg)

JPY 825

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

JPY 510

Utilities (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

JYP 46

Internet (average per month)

JYP 4,730

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

JYP 22,000

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

JYP 5,000

Big Mac Meal or equivalent

JYP 700


JYP 390

Coca-Cola (330ml)

JYP 140

Local beer (500ml)

JYP 500


Taxi rate per km

JYP 425

City centre public transport

JYP 200

Petrol (per litre)

JYP 140

Expat Health Insurance


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