Tokyo is infamous for its high cost of living. This is evidenced by Tokyo being ranked third in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2020. 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. Delicious food can be found 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 fresh 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 April 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

JPY 170,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

JPY 320,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

JPY 85,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

JPY 140,000

Groceries

Dozen eggs

JPY 260

Milk (1 litre)

JPY 210

Loaf of white bread

JPY 220

Rice (1kg)

JPY 500

Chicken breasts (1kg)

JPY 960

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

JPY 520

Utilities (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

JYP 35

Internet (average per month)

JYP 4,000

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

JYP 700

Cappuccino

JYP 390

Coca-Cola (330ml)

JYP 150

Local beer (500ml)

JYP 500

Transport

Taxi rate per km

JYP 420

City centre public transport

JYP 210

Petrol (per litre)

JYP 140

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