Average living cost in the Kantou area

Hello people,

I was asked here about this question. As I wrote in said topic, it actually depend a lot on where you are living, if you are single or where your family, and what would you consider to be a good enough living standard.

It could be pretty expensive when compared to other places in Asia (while still being OK compared to, let's say, London, New York or San Francisco). Rents start at about ¥50,000 for one room in not-so-fancy areas, to... a lot (I know people paying close to ¥1,000,000 for a massive condo in the center, with a rooftop terrace, gym, etc.).
The rent varies depending on:
- the size of the room (1R = one room, 1K = one room + separate kitchen, 1DK = 1 room + dining-kitchen etc.)
- the distance form the station (typically, you'll find the best offers at 10+ minutes walk from the station - this is not a real walking distance, but an estimation based on a the length of a straight line from the station)
- the proximity of supermarket, conbini and other shops
- the area (Ebisu is more expensive than let's say, Nippori)
One thing that you might want to keep in mid too is that non-japanese people typically have less choices, since many landlords do not want to rent them. There is also a variable amount to pay upfront when signing the contract, up to 6 months of rent (1 month for the real estate agency, 1 month of rent, 0~2 months of caution money, and 0~2 months of *shikikin*, which is a mandatory "present" to the landlord). You will add to that the insurance for the place, and, if you don't have a japanese guarantor a percentage of your rent to pay upfront too.
In many cases, you can negotiate with the agency/landlord (for caution money/shikikin at least).
There are also agencies specialized in 0/0 places, which means that you will only have to pay the real estate and the first month of rent to move in.
Another option if you just came here is to live in a guest/gaijin-house, where you can live with other foreigners and/or Japanese (dormitory or private room) which could help you to save some money until you get a steady job.
When I first came here, my rent was about ¥70,000 (with no upfront money since I used a 0/0 agency).

Depending on your where work, you might want to thing carefully about where you want to live.
Living further might mean a cheaper rent, but you are going to spend more in public transportation. The time spent in the train and subway could be significant (2-3 hours a day, depending how far you live). Monthly train pass prices vary, depending on the distance, the number of changes, and the company you use (there are several train/subway lines in Tokyo, private and public, with different pricing systems).
I used to pay about ¥8000/month when i arrived, but that was paid by my company (which is often the case if you are a full-time employee - because of that on my free time I often ended-up in places between my work and my home).
EDIT: forgot to add that you should probably want to get a bike, at least to move in your living area (you might end up a bit too far from where you work, if it is in the center). Great to buy groceries, etc.

There are lot of options to eat outside for (reasonably) cheap, and many places open 24/24h. Cooking is also an option, but if you are single the long working hours do not necessarily make it the best option. This is different for people moving with their family, and you can save a lot if you cook yourself (and know where to buy).
Let's say about ¥1000/day if you know how to spare (home-made bento, cooking at home - there are also daily deals in supermarket, -20/30/50% on daily food that is going to the trash bin if nobody buys them).
On a budget, ¥30,000/month should allow you to live correctly, if you are frugal. If you are not, it can much much more (you can also easily spend that in one dinner in a fancy place).

Price of electricity is variable, depending on the season. If you use your AC a lot during summer, you can easily see your bill jump to ¥10,000. Same in winter if you use it as a heater. If not, a ¥3000~5000 is more the norm. More if you have computers etc.
Gas is often used for cooking, sometimes for bath water too, but is less expensive. ¥2000~4000/month is a good estimate I think.

Depending on where you live ("mansion" = apartment building or "ikkenya" = single building), the price of your internet will vary. I remember paying ¥6000/month in one of my previous flats, but these days it's more like ¥8000.
Phone prices will also vary depending on what type of usage you have. I never use my phone, so I have a "data plan only" that costs me about ¥4000/month.
There are also options that combine phone/internet (and TV), but I don't know these very well.

The rest
Tokyo (and the area) is a city where it is is easy to spend money. Everything costs money, especially if you like to go out, do non-work related activities etc. Live music costs a lot, way more than in Europe for example (might be different if you are into local bands). Museums are plenty and great, but are also pretty pricey, as are movies etc. (¥2000~¥3000 each time).
If you are working in a local firm, you will probably be invited to go out and drink with your coworkers to socialize with them, and if the boss is not around, you will probably have to pay for yourself. A typical "all you can drink" night will cost you about ¥5000 - although there are some way cheaper places, but you might not know these at first...
I don't mention health insurance, taxes etc. which you probably want to save money for too.

Rent: ¥75,000
Transport: ¥8000
Food: ¥30,000
Gas/Electricity: ¥7000
Internet/Phone: ¥10,000
The rest: ¥50,000

Total: ¥180,000

This is (for me) the absolute minimum to live in Tokyo. Some very frugal people manage to live with less. If you come here to save money, that's probably the smallest amount of money you want to keep untouched at the end of the month to avoid surprise.

This is very subjective, and is probably going to vary from people to people.
Hope that helped.

Great post. I am hosting a blog about life in Tokyo and I am wondering if I could use your article?


Sure, if you add a link to this post.

certainly will! Thanks!