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Is it expensive to retire in Japan?


Retiring in Japan may seem like a dream come true for many, given the country’s rich culture, natural beauty, and technological advancements. However, the cost of living in Japan is often considered notoriously high, making it an important consideration for those planning to retire in the country. This article will explore everything you need to know about retiring in Japan and whether it is expensive or not.

The Cost of Housing in Japan

One of the most significant costs of retiring in Japan is housing. Japan’s cities are densely populated, leading to higher housing prices, especially in Tokyo. Renting or buying a house can be expensive, and it’s essential to plan accordingly. However, living outside big cities can be an affordable option.

Japanese Snack Box

The Cost of Food and Drinks

Food is relatively expensive in Japan compared to other countries, but it’s also known for its quality and uniqueness. It’s essential to note that Japanese cuisine is diverse and ranges from affordable street food to expensive fine dining.

The Cost of Healthcare in Japan

Japan has one of the world’s best healthcare systems with universal coverage. The cost of healthcare is relatively low compared to other developed countries, which makes it an attractive destination for retirees.

The Cost of Transportation in Japan

Transportation costs can be high, especially when using taxis or private cars. However, public transportation such as trains and buses are affordable and efficient.

The Cost of Entertainment in Japan

Japan boasts a vibrant entertainment scene with countless options from museums, art galleries, parks, and temples. However, these activities can be pricey depending on the location and type of event.

The Cost of Language Barrier

The language barrier can make retiring in Japan challenging for some people. Learning the language can take time and resources but is essential to communicate with locals and access services.

The Cost of Visas and Immigration

Retirees need a long-term visa to live in Japan. The application process can be time-consuming and complex, requiring specific documents and a financial statement that proves you have enough savings to support yourself.

The Cost of Taxes in Japan

Japan’s tax system can be complicated, but the country has lower tax rates compared to other developed countries. Income tax rates range from 5% to 45%, depending on your income bracket.

The Cost of Social Security Benefits in Japan

Japan has a social security system that provides benefits such as healthcare coverage, pensions, and long-term care insurance. Retirees who have contributed to the system during their working years are eligible for these benefits.

The Cost of Cultural Differences

Living in a foreign country comes with cultural differences that can be difficult to adjust to initially. Retirees must be prepared to learn about Japanese culture and norms and respect them.


Retiring in Japan can be an exciting adventure for those interested in Japanese culture and way of life. While living expenses might be higher than your home country, it’s important to consider the overall quality of life and unique experiences that come with living in Japan. With proper planning and research, retirees can enjoy their golden years stress-free in this beautiful country.

How much money do you need to retire comfortably in Japan?

If we earn 4 million a year, we can live comfortably, while earning five million or more would allow us to live very comfortably. After determining our desired income range, we need to consider how we will generate that income. It is recommended to contribute to the Japanese national pension (kosei or kokumin nenkin).

Can I live in Japan as a US citizen?

To live in Japan for more than just a short visit, you must meet the requirements for one of several types of visas, including working holiday, working, highly skilled professional, startup, specified, or general.

How long can a US citizen live in Japan?

If you plan on staying for more than 90 days with a valid visa, it is mandatory to register your address with your local municipal office and acquire a Resident Card, also known as “Zairyu Card,” from the regional immigration offices.

Is it more expensive to live in Japan or America?

In the city center of the US, the average cost per square foot to purchase a home is about $335, while in Japan it’s approximately $760, which is about a 57% increase. Overall, though, housing prices in Japan tend to be lower than in the US, particularly since the Covid pandemic.

Can a US citizen retire to Japan?

In summary, Japan is a beautiful location that many Americans desire to retire in. Nevertheless, gaining residency in Japan can be challenging. However, if one manages to establish residency, it can be an excellent place to retire since the healthcare system is among the best globally. As of January 12, 2023.

Is US Social Security taxed in Japan?

If your work falls under both the American and Japanese Social Security systems, you and your employer would typically be required to pay Social Security taxes to both countries for the same job while you are working.

Additional Considerations

In addition to the costs mentioned above, there are other factors to consider when retiring in Japan. For example, Japan is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. It’s essential to have a plan in place to ensure your safety during such events.

Another consideration is the availability of social activities and support networks. Retirees who don’t have family or friends in Japan may find it challenging to build a social circle. However, there are various expat groups and clubs that offer opportunities to meet new people and engage in social activities.

Finally, it’s crucial to consider the exchange rate between your home currency and the Japanese yen. Fluctuations in the exchange rate can significantly impact your purchasing power and overall cost of living.


In conclusion, retiring in Japan can be an excellent option for those seeking adventure, culture, and a high quality of life. While the cost of living may be higher than other countries, Japan’s healthcare system, diverse cuisine, and unique experiences make it an attractive destination for retirees. By considering all the factors mentioned above and proper planning, retirees can enjoy their golden years stress-free in this beautiful country.

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