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Japan Salaries and Cost of Living

Japan Salaries and Cost of Living

This article provides a cursory overview of the costs associated with moving to and living in Japan.  To begin with, we will focus on Tokyo given that is where much of overseas recruitment happens in Japan.  In a later post, we’ll delve a little deeper in to other viable locations to live and work in Japan

This post will cover:

  • Relocation Costs
  • Housing and utilities
  • Groceries and shopping
  • Phones, internet
  • Transportation
  • entertainment leisure and eating out
  • Gyms, Sports,
  • Taxes

Relocating between any two countries can be expensice.

Housing and Utilities typically make up the most expensive portion of monthly outgoings, not to mention the costs associated with finding a place to live in Tokyo.

Finding Housing

Monthly Rent

The average monthly rent for a one-room studio apartment, of around 20-25 sqm, typically costs around 70-90,000 yen in Tokyo.


Groceries and shopping expenses vary widely depending on lifestyle, but the average monthly expenditure for groceries is around 38,000 yen ($345.4) for one person. The article also provides useful resources for calculating utility bills and tips for finding used furniture.

Mobile phone plans in Japan, until recently, have been dominated by a three company monopoly.  These three firms:  Softbank, AU Docomo and KDDI, still offer comprehensive, albeit expensive, mobile plans but have been challenged by a raft of low cost providers, who piggy-back on the networks of the majors telco companies, and usually offer competitive data plans and 4G optoions.  The lesson being: there are cheaper/reasonable options available.

Internet access is almost like water in Japan: abundant and reliable.  However, the cost of the service varies depending on the provider and your location. You can expect to pay around 4,000 yen ($36) per month for a basic plan.  Internet speed can also be dependent on  

Transportation Public transportation in Japan is efficient, clean, and safe. However, it can be costly, especially if you use it frequently. The cost of a single train ride in Tokyo starts from around 200 yen ($1.8) depending on the distance traveled.

If you plan to use public transportation frequently, consider purchasing a prepaid transportation card such as Suica or Pasmo. These cards offer discounts on train and bus fares, and you can use them to pay for purchases at some convenience stores and vending machines.

Gym Gym membership fees in Japan are generally higher than in other countries. You can expect to pay around 10,000 yen ($91) per month for a basic gym membership.

Leisure and Eating Out There are many entertainment options in Japan, including karaoke, movies, and theme parks. The cost of these activities varies depending on the location and type of activity. For example, a movie ticket in Tokyo costs around 1,800 yen ($16), while admission to Tokyo Disneyland is around 8,200 yen ($74).

Eating out in Japan can be affordable or expensive depending on where you go. You can find cheap eats such as ramen and sushi for under 1,000 yen ($9), or splurge on high-end dining experiences that can cost several thousand yen per person.

Taxes If you are employed in Japan, you will be subject to income tax and social insurance contributions. The amount of tax you pay depends on your income, but the tax rate starts from 5% and goes up to 45%. Social insurance contributions are around 15% of your salary.

In conclusion, living in Japan can be expensive, especially in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo. However, there are ways to reduce costs, such as living in cheaper neighborhoods, using public transportation wisely, and finding affordable entertainment and dining options. It’s important to do your research and budget carefully before making the move.

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