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The Cost of Living in Japan

Updated on March 25, 2012

There are times in life when an adventure is the only way to go and one of those adventures can be working in a foreign country. There are several things to consider before you take that plunge and your journey starts in the land of the samurai. Some of the questions you do want to ask yourself are, do I have enough money saved to live in Japan? Do I want to maintain a certain standard of living? How you plan to live and how long of a stay you are going to do will help you answer some of these questions.

There are some things we can use to narrow down the cost of living and give a rough estimate based on those factors. This will allow you to get a head start on identify your own needs and desires while living in Japan. There will be things that I have not listed, but the basics are an excellent place to start and you can modify at your own pace.


There are basic necessities that you do need to take into account, one of them is the fact that you will need to eat. I know how we all love food, but it can also add up in a hurry if you do not watch what you spend it on. Generally, as anywhere else if you love restaurants and want to eat out all the time you will spend more money than if you stay home and cook for yourself. So, splitting your week up may be out twice week and cooking in will save you a great deal of more money and allow you to have a little more flexibility.

If, you are single and are cooking for yourself then the cost should probably be less than 20000 yen per day if you are cooking for a family of four it can be anywhere from 50000 yen to 100000 yen per day. So, moderating your budget when it comes to food will save you a great deal and allow you to enjoy others things that normally you would not be able to in Japan.

A single person cooking meals at home, every day, you should expect to spend around 50,000 yen every month you are in the country. This will go up quickly if you eat out with others occasionally, or if you decide to eat your lunch somewhere near your work.


In Japan, the streets are particularly crowded, and getting to and from places is a challenge. The cost of owning a car might be weighed against public transportation. Using taxis or the subway to get around most of metro japan will quickly add up as well as save you from traffic and owning a car.

So, if you are commuting to and from work or school expect that the cost of transportation is roughly 20000 yen per month in japan or slightly more depending on how you travel. Take careful looks at the sub routes, as well as the bus routes will allow you to get from point A and point Be that much faster. If you live close to work or school, then this issue is probably not a crucial one since you can ride a bike or walk to those locations.


The Idea of being in Japan, and not being able to explore it because your broke is not too much fun. So, getting out and enjoying it is going to be something you want to do. Entertainment in japan can add up extremely quickly if not careful. For example, a day of site seeing can go for about 5000 yen, or if you want the night life a beer can cost between 500-1000 yen depending on where you go and the type of beer you order.

If, you are one who enjoys shopping for furniture or household goods, then prices will be different in each store that you go. Also if, you like to purchases stuff for loved ones or family members back home remember those can add up quickly. Not all stores are expensive in japan there are high end retail stores and low end. So, do the research, and get recommendation’s prior to exploring on places to shop.

Living Expenses

Of course, you will need a place to hang your hat and store all the goodies you will get from the mall. Housing in japan can vary tremendously, and it is a fantastic idea to hire an apartment hunter or real estate agent when you come to get you a pleasant place that you can afford. You can expect to pay around 60-80000 yen for a marvellous location that is safe and in the city. Plan on spending, an additional 10000 yen for utility bills each month for the average size apartment. Depending on if you have a family or in how much space you need to keep from going crazy.

Expats Tell About life in japan


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  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 7 years ago from UK

    Educational, to say the least :-)