Tokyo is infamous for its high cost of living, which is often a major concern for expats moving to the city. In 2023, Tokyo ranked 19th out of 227 expat cities evaluated in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey. It's much pricier than cities such as Osaka (ranked 93rd) when it comes to major expenses like accommodation. But with the lucrative salaries offered in Tokyo, it is still possible for expats to build a comfortable life here.


Cost of accommodation in Tokyo

The most significant expense an expat will have in Tokyo is accommodation. Apartments are the most popular form of housing for expats. Monthly rental fees can be sky-high for an apartment that is typically much smaller than expats are used to.

Expats should also remember that other fees are involved when moving into a new place. Extra costs that need to be budgeted for are deposits, key money, the first month's rent in advance and agency fees. Additionally, expats will also need to pay for their monthly utilities, as these are not usually included in the monthly rental price. 


Cost of transport in Tokyo

Due to the high cost of parking in Tokyo, most expats choose to use public transport instead of owning a car. In comparison to other Asian capitals such as Seoul, public transport is expensive in Tokyo, but it's also highly efficient.


Cost of groceries in Tokyo

When it comes to food, standards are exceptional. The price of fresh produce in Tokyo is higher than some expats may be used to, but the quality is top-notch, and seafood is relatively cheap. Many supermarkets offer evening discounts to get rid of the day's stock.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Tokyo

As an international metropolis, Tokyo offers a vast array of entertainment options, varying wildly based on preferences and lifestyle choices. From sumptuous fine-dining experiences to affordable local eateries, Tokyo's food scene is diverse and caters for all budgets. For those on a budget, bentos from convenience stores or meals from department store food courts are affordable and delicious alternatives to pricier restaurants.

The city also has various attractions, kid-friendly activities and annual events and festivals. While some of these activities may come with an entrance fee, plenty of low-cost or free activities are available for those looking to enjoy the city on a budget. From strolling in one of Tokyo's beautiful parks to exploring the vibrant local neighbourhoods, there is always something to do in this bustling city.


Cost of education in Tokyo

Education in Tokyo, while of high quality, can be a substantial expense for expat families. The majority of these families opt to enrol their children in schools that offer a foreign curriculum. The international schools in Tokyo teach curricula such as the International Baccalaureate and are renowned for their exceptional educational standards, but tuition fees can vary significantly from one institution to another.

Besides tuition, parents should be prepared to budget for additional costs such as registration fees, uniforms, books and excursions. Scholarships and financial aid might be available in some schools, but they are not guaranteed.


Cost of healthcare in Tokyo

The standard of healthcare in Tokyo is excellent, with state-of-the-art medical technology and a comprehensive range of services available. The city is equipped with a broad network of hospitals and clinics, many of which offer services in English and other foreign languages, catering to the diverse expat population in the city. However, the cost of healthcare can be relatively high compared to other cities around the world.

All residents, including expats, are required by law to be covered by health insurance in Japan. This can be through the national health insurance scheme or a private insurance plan. National health insurance typically covers 70 percent of healthcare costs, with the patient paying the remaining 30 percent out-of-pocket.


Cost of living in Tokyo chart

Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows the average prices for Tokyo in June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 320,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 165,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 142,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 84,000

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

JPY 290

Milk (1 litre)

JPY 198

Rice (1kg)

JPY 370

Loaf of white bread

JPY 191

Chicken breasts (1kg)

JPY 550

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

JPY 600

Eating out

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

JPY 6,000

Big Mac meal

JPY 710

Coca-Cola (330ml)

JPY 160

Cappuccino

JPY 450

Bottle of beer (local)

JPY 290

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

JPY 52

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

JPY 4,600

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

JPY 25,000

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

JPY 420

City-centre public transport fare

JPY 150

Gasoline (per litre)

JPY 166

Expat Health Insurance

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