When coming over to Japan for a long-term business trip, the first thing that will probably cross your mind is the high cost of living. A study indicated that Tokyo is the 13th most expensive city in the world which is a great starting point to anticipate what is to come. This article will go over the monthly costs one might have when living in Japan while providing specific numbers allowing foreign expats like yourself to use it as a guideline.

Average rent in Tokyo

Being one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is not surprising it also ranks high on the average monthly rent prices list. According to a research conducted by Deutsche Bank, the monthly rent for Mid-Range 2 Bedroom Apartments in Tokyo is the 10th most expensive in the world.

With an average price of ¥215,000 (US$2,018) the prices vary depending on the location, size and age of the apartment. Moreover, as the Utilities and Internet fees are often excluded from the monthly rent be ready to spend a hefty chunk of your pay on your rent and maintaining your accommodation.

A tip to work around this is to live in cheaper areas of the 23 wards such as Edogawa or the Adachi ward which can lower your rent to approximately¥10,000 (US$ 1,000).

If you are in Japan for a short period we would also recommend living in a Serviced Apartment as you will be able to live in central Tokyo at a rather reasonable price.

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Cost of Medical Check-Ups

When visiting a doctor in Japan, it is important to note that the initial consultation fee is always the costliest. This means you should try avoiding jumping from doctor to doctor which might require some extensive research. The pricing can then be dissected further into two types one for the insured and one for the uninsured.

For those that are insured

For patients who have the National Health Insurance, it covers up to 70% of your medical fees which makes the initial trip to the doctor cost around 3,000 to 5,000-yen (US$ 30 to US$ 50) range. Subsequent visits will cost around ¥600 (US$5) per trip.

For those that are not insured

The price will spike for those that are not insured with an average first visit to the doctor costing up to ¥10,000 to ¥50,000 (95 US$ to 470 US$) with the subsequent visits costing around ¥7,500 (70 US$).

So, if you consider your illness to be curable with normal medicine, visit a convenience store or a local pharmacy as they tend to carry basic medication.  But, don`t forget to always care about your health first!

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Cost of Utilities

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Cost of Utilities 

Unlike the majority of other countries where utility bills are often paid together, in Japan utility bills are paid separately with the main 3 being; electricity, water and gas.

Often the most expensive of the 3, electricity costs around ¥9600 (90 US$) per month for an apartment for two. For water, it costs around ¥5500 (51 US$) per month and ¥5000 (47 US)) for gas bringing up the total to approximately ¥20,000 (188 US$) per month.

These prices are calculated for two working adults and under the assumption that they are working on a 5-day workweek. It is also important to note that these prices might change throughout the year as you might turn on the heater during those cold shivery nights in winter.



Mobile and Home Internet Expenses

Face it we can`t live without the internet and we will want it especially in a country such as Japan where technology is at it`s finest!

Mobile Expenses

Regular mobile plans are relatively expensive in Japan costing around ¥6,000 ( 56 US$) per month. However, there are alternative methods such as using the highly popular “Kakuyasu” plan which are mobile phone plans that operated by Mobile Virtual Network Operators which plans start from as low as ¥1500 (14 US$).

Home Internet Expenses

Alike Mobile Expenses, the internet plans are also costly starting from ¥5,000 (47 US$) per month for a decent internet plan. However, similar to housing an initial fee will be needed to set up the mobile router which costs around ¥3000 (28 US$). If you are considering getting both a mobile plan and home internet you might want to consider getting a combo plan which might significantly lower the overall cost you might be paying.

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Food Expense

According to a research conducted in Tokyo, it was identified that the average expenses for food in Tokyo was approximately ¥27,000 (254 US$) per month. That makes it a daily expense of ¥870 (8 US$) and this is possible only if either lunch or dinner is home-cooked.

Moreover, due to Japan`s Nominication culture (a drinking culture focused around community building), drinking after work with colleagues is very common, which if not careful might result in a huge rise to your food expenses.

So, try to resist the temptation of eating outside although the wide variety and great quality of Japanese food makes it difficult to do so.


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Transportation Fee

It is common knowledge that Transportation in Japan is expensive and the average commuting fee to work costs around ¥15,170 (142 US$) per month. One great aspect is that most Japanese companies cover all the travel expenses for their employees.

Usually, a commuter pass would be the cheapest method to commute to work as you will receive unlimited amounts of rides for a fixed monthly rate usually a little cheaper than what you will pay if you commute without it. The commuter pass can be purchased from any train station mainly at ticket machines or station offices.

I also very much hope that you will be travelling to other places during your stay in Japan to explore different areas. So, let us maybe set aside a small budget for personal travels. From personal experience, ¥6,000 (56 US$) is more than enough to have multiple great weekends with friends.

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Summarize Expenses for a family of Two in Tokyo

To summarize this article let us take a look at all the expenses once again for two working adults in Tokyo.

  1. Rent (Mid-range 2 bedroom apartment) – ¥215,000 (2,018 US$)
  2. Medical Bills (Assuming something happens, touch wood)  – ¥3,000  (30 US$)
  3. Utility Bills – ¥2,0100 (190 US$)
  4. Mobile Plan for Two – ¥12,000 (112 US$)
  5. Home Internet – ¥5,000 (47 US$)
  6. Food Expenses – ¥ 54,000 (508 US$)
  7. Transport Expenses – ¥12,000 (112 US$)

This brings the total amount spend in a month in Japan for Two working adults to a whopping  ¥321,100 (3,022 US$). Divide this number by two and you will get the approximate amount needed for a single person to live in Tokyo.

Considering that this list does not include other hobby related expenses which vary from each individual, expect to spend much more especially in an entertainment-filled city such as Tokyo! What do you think about the cost of living in Tokyo? Is it too expensive or was it cheaper than expected and what is your strategy in saving money. Kindly share your comments with us here at Expat Japan Life! If you are looking for Serviced Apartments and Monthly Mansions in Tokyo visit us at MetroResidences.


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