Total Cost of Living in Japan

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Do you want to live in Japan? If so, you should calculate how much money you need before you go to Japan. To help you know the total cost of living in Japan, I will give you the per month cost estimation. Also, the 5 tips on how to save money.


First, you have to decide which place you live in.

Because Price depends on the cities.

For example, Tokyo is the most expensive city in Japan.

Do you know Ikebukuro? Ikebukuro is one of the most popular stations in Japan.

If you rent an apartment around Ikebukuro, the average is 80,000 yen. 

In contrast, if you rent it in Gunma, the average is 36,000 yen.

So if you want to stay cheaply, you should choose a cheap city.

I will show you the rent ranking.

Rank City Average Price (yen)
1 Tokyo 78,552
2 Kanagawa 68,847
3 Chiba 59,663
4 Saitama 57,706
5 Osaka 54,349
6 Hyogo 53,882
7 Kyoto 53,354
8 Aichi 51,634
9 Shizuoka 51,579
43 Miyazaki 39,231
44 Shimane 39,045
45 Kagoshima 38,718
46 Akita 38,321
47 Aomori 37,485

※2013 edition


Second, you have to decide what kind of accommodation you will stay.

You have 4 options to stay in Japan.

Price List


Prices in JPY

Rent 130,000
Maintenance 0
Meal ( morning/evening) 0
Meal (lunch) 10,000
Electronic 0
Water service 0
Gas 0
Total 140,000
Rent 65,000
Maintenance 6,000
Meal ( morning/evening) 20,000
Meal (lunch) 10,000
Electronic 3,000
Water service 2,000
Gas 3,000
Total 109,000
Share House
Rent 50,000
Maintenance 5,000
Meal ( morning/evening) 20,000
Meal (lunch) 10,000
Electronic 0
Water service 0
Gas 0
Total 95,000
Rent 150,000
Maintenance 0
Meal ( morning/evening) 2,000
Meal (lunch) 10,000
Electronic 0
Water service 0
Gas 0
Total 162,000

Above prices are the estimated average costs.


House | FAIR Study

Homestay means that someone can stay in a family’s house with them.

Basically, the host family provides meals to guests.


Advantage: You can talk with a native Japanese speaker and see the Japanese real lifestyle. Moreover, your Japanese skills will improve day by day.


Disadvantage: Some places organize rules such as that you can not back home after 11:00 pm and can not choose meals.



Building | FAIR Study

You can rent own room in Japan. Japanese apartment is super clean and the structure is very strong

because earthquake often happens.


Advantage: You will be protected in your private room.


Disadvantage: It is difficult to talk with native Japanese speakers

and you have to pay electronic and gas.


Share house

Sharing Home | FAIR Study

Share house means people can stay with others and it has 2 types system.

One is that everyone has each room and share the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.

Second is that everyone shares even rooms.


Advantage: You can talk to foreigners and share cultures

because most people live in a shared house are foreigners. But depends on roommates.


Disadvantage: Private times are less than others and basically, you have to share house works.




If you want to live just temporary, Airbnb is a good way.

I used Airbnb in Canada. Customer supports are really helpful.

If you can not contact with owners, they help you desperately.


Advantage: Short time staying is accepted and flexible.

Disadvantage: There are more cases which are high price than others if you stay long times.



Now, you have understood there are a lot of options you have.

If you want to improve your Japanese, Homestay is a good way.

In contrast, if you want to save money, share house is the cheapest way.  

So you should think about what kind of accommodation is the best for you.

And It depends on your purpose.



Japanese foods are amazing and elaborate.

I am going to show you the Japanese common food’s price, restaurants, groceries.

Eating out 

If you want to eat out instead of cooking, what I am going to tell is very useful information.

Because these are very cheap foods in Japan.

Gyudon (Sukiya) 400
Udon (Hanamaru Udon) 400
Ramen (Ichiran) 800
Tonkatsu (Katsuya) 800
Soba (Fujisoba) 400
Curry (Cocoichi) 600
Sushi (Sushirou) 800
Steak (Gasuto) 800
Family restaurant (Yumean) 800-2000
Hamburger (Macdonald)  500

※Price=yen, ()=Food shop name

Gyudon (Sukiya)



Udon (Hanamaru Udon)



Ramen (Ichiran)

Ramen | FAIR Study


Tonkatsu (Katsuya)



Soba (Fujisoba)

| FAIR Study


Curry (Cocoichi)



Sushi (Sushirou)

Sashimi | FAIR Study


Steak (Gasuto)



Family restaurant (Yumean)

Family restaurant


Hamburger (Macdonald) 


These shop’s cost-performance is excellent!

If you do not want to cook yourself, those must help your Japan life.


Grocery Shop

Rice 1800 (5kg)
Pasta 300 (1kg)
Toast bread 180 (1 loaf of bread)
Beef  230 (100g)
Pork 200 (100g)
Chicken 110 (100g)
Egg 200 (10)
Milk 200 (1L)
Water 100 (1L)
Coke 100 (500ml)


I will recommend you 3 cheep grocery shops.

1, Gyomuyo super


2, Aeon

Aeon | FAIR Study

3, Seiyu

Seiyu | FAIR Study

Those are very cheap and the quality is good.

So you should try to find them near you.



If you want to save money, you should cook for yourself.

When I was in Canada as s student, I used to cook almost every day.

Thanks to that, I could have saved money.



National health insurance

You have to register to get national health insurance when you stay over 3 months.

National health insurance depends on one’s place someone stay and income.

But basically, it’s around 20,000yen per year so the price is around 1,700yen per month.

You can get a 70% discount for the hospitalization if you will be injured.

But when you harm someone or properties, national health insurance does not work.

So if you worry about that, you should get private insurance to cover the damages.


In my opinion, you do not have to get it unless you drive in Japan.

Because I’ve never used insurance in Japan.


Do you know that Japanese transportation is super accurate?

Because most Japanese are worried about punctuality.

So everyone does not wait for the next train when the train is full especially during rush hours.

If you want to avoid it, you should leave earlier than others.

Now, I am going to show you what kind of transportation systems exist in Japan.



Train | FAIR Study

Train is most popular transportation system in Japan.

If you study or work in the same place on weekdays, getting a monthly pass is advisable.

Fee examples:

  1 day ticket 1 mon 3 mon 6 mon
Ikebukuro ⇒ Shibuya 195 5,170 14,730 24,810
Umeda ⇒ Shinosaka 230 8,930 25,460 48,230




Bus | FAIR Study

The local bus is a second means of public transportation.

And the cost depends on distance but basically, around 180-300.

Also, there is a monthly pass for this.



Car | FAIR Study

Nowadays, young people in Japan do not have cars, especially in a big city.

Because the transportation system is so useful.

But if you want to drive, renting a car is also useful and cheap.

I often used to rent it.

Small car’s cost is around 5,000yen per day.

If you want to go on a trip, You have these options.

Shinkansen(bullet train), air plan, night train, night bus. 



You should calculate which is better for you between where you live and how much the cost of the monthly pass.

Otherwise, you can not understand where you should live.


Cell Phone

If you own a cellphone, all it takes is to change the Sim card.

Actually, there’s a lot of the cell phone companies in Japan

And especially 3 big cell phone companies in Japan.

1, Docomo

2, Au

3, Softbank

But nowadays, it is common to change to other cell phone companies.

Why? because these companies have a lot of disadvantages.

1. The prices are expensive.

2. It is unacceptable to turn down the contract in 2 years.

So you should take these new companies.


Line mobile

line mobile 

Line is the most popular communication tool in Japan.

Most Japanese use this application and this cell phone made from Line.

Line is like a What’s up, wechat.

Line mobile features that you can use SNS Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Line free of charge.


UQ mobile


UQ mobile features that date speed is speedy and free take plans.

If you want to talk with phone number(without application such as a Line, what’s up),

UQ mobile is suitable for you.

But remember you can not discontinue the contract in 2 years.

Compare Costs

  2GB 3GB 5GB 6GB
Line mobile   2,570 3,860  
UQ mobile 2,980     3,980
Docomo   6,000~ 7,000~  
Au 4,480~ 5,540~ 6,480~ 7,480~
Softbank 5,500~   7,000~  



If you do not mind date speed and you use only in 2 years, I recommend Line mobile.

If you use it more than 2 years and you care about data speed, I recommend UQ mobile.


Model Case

Apartment (Tokyo) 79,000
Meals  30,000
Insurance (only national health insurance) 1,700
Transportation (monthly pass) 6,000
Cell phone  (UQ mobile) 4,000
Entertainment expenses  30,000
Total 150,700


Girl Jumping | FAIR Study


How did you feel cost living in Japan?

Expensive or Cheap? 

I like Japan because of everything high quality and cheap.

If you want to live in Japan, do not hesitate!

I guaranty that Japan is awesome!

If you are a beginner at Japanese, I recommend these pages.

Easy Way to Learn Japanese alphabet Katakana and Hiragana 

50 Most Important Japanese Phrases for Travelers

Good luck!

FAIR Japan provides useful information about Japan. 

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