If there was ever a place that has caught my fancy, then it’s Japan. Steve Jobs famously said that his favourite holiday destination was Kyoto, which is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Travelling to Japan on holiday is considerably different from living in Japan. Japan has a reputation of being expensive and if you are anywhere near Tokyo, then you need to be prepared to dish out the big bucks for living expenses.
It may sound ridiculously expensive, but what are the ground realities? Let’s find out!
Is it expensive to live in Japan?
This is the first question I encounter and it’s difficult to answer that question without understanding your lifestyle. But in a nutshell, the answer is yes. It is expensive and if you are living in Tokyo, expect the prices to go much higher. So let’s break down the costs.
Rent in Japan
Tokyo has some of the highest rental costs in the world. Accommodation is by far the biggest expense in Japan and in Tokyo it can range from $330 for a shared room in a shared house. If you want your own room, then you’d have to shell out at least $560+. If you want your own single bedroom apartment, then you’d have to pay anywhere north of $750.
This may not be as expensive compared to a few cities like New York. But when you compare it to a global perspective, these rates are quite high.
If you live away from the city centre and further away from Tokyo, these rates can easily drop by 30% to 40% and in some cases, even about 50%!
The best way to save on rent is to live away from the main city and to share an accommodation. If you have an opportunity to live in Osaka, then, by all means, go for it, as it is cheaper than Tokyo by a considerable margin.
Utilities in Japan
The second biggest expense in Japan after rent are the utilities. You will need to spend on electricity, internet, gas, water and other miscellaneous items.
Electricity will cost you around $50 a month. The internet in Japan in blazing fast and that will easily cost you $30 a month, which is quite reasonable for such speedy internet. If you look at utilities in general it can range anywhere between $100 to $200, depending on your usage and the size of your accommodation and the number of people using it.
Eating in Japan
There are only two ways to go about this. In Japan, you either cook your own meals at home or you eat out. It’s obvious what the cheaper option is. If you are looking to eat out everyday, it would easily cost you 2000 yen a day, which comes to around $20 a day for three meals. That is expensive indeed.
You can literally cut this cost by 50% if you cook your own food at home. Japan has some super affordable ingredients and the grocery is cheap as well. Here is a list of everyday items that will help you figure out your cost.
Transport Costs in Japan
If you are moving to Japan for work and are sponsored by a company, then most likely they will cover your pass for the train. The train is the best way to travel around Tokyo. A monthly pass for the train costs around $95.
If you are looking for a single ticket, that would set you back by $2. The train system in Japan is a world of its own and there are numerous discounted passes that you can access to bring down your transport cost. Another top way to get around your city is to actually cycle around which costs you almost nothing.
Your average cost for a 3 to 4 km distance in a taxi will cost you around $5. The minimum charge even for the shortest distance is around $4.
Owning a car in Japan is something to be considered. But if your workplace is close to your home or if the stations are close by, you can try avoiding one because the cost of owning a car is expensive with the yearly inspections and taxes.
Gym Cost in Japan
One of the best ways to measure the cost of a city is to see how expensive gym membership is. It gives you an idea of how much it will cost for a service where there isn’t much of a service and also the rent that is paid by the establishment that is added to your cost.
The average cost of a gym membership in Japan is around $82 which is ridiculously expensive. It’s better to stay fit naturally by eating right and also by commuting by walking or cycling.
Cost of Living in Japan
So there you have it, Japan is an expensive place to live in but that comes with a lot of ups and positives. Japan is one of the safest places on earth. It has probably one of the lowest crime rates in the world. There is no theft and people will go out of their way to give you back your lost item.
Japan also has amazing work opportunities with numerous businesses having a presence there. The economy is always upbeat and there is a lot of work to do.
Japan is also a cultural potpourri with amazing history and a lot of traditions that are totally unique. Even after living for many years, you will still be in awe of Japan and its many traditions.
Japanese food is one of the best in the world. It’s super-rich, tasty and ridiculously healthy. If you are eating seafood all day and drinking green tea, you will probably the fittest around!
Finally, people. The Japanese people are some of the warmest, friendliest and nicest people on earth. They are accommodating, friendly and welcoming.
If you ever decide to move to Japan, know that your costs can be minimized by choosing to live away from the city, eating at home, cycling more and enjoying yourself in a fashion that doesn’t require too much money!