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What salary is needed to live comfortably in Japan?


Living in Japan can be a dream come true for many people. The country has a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern technology, making it a fascinating place to live. However, the cost of living in Japan can be quite high, especially in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. In this article, we will explore what salary is needed to live comfortably in Japan.

The Cost of Living in Japan

The cost of living in Japan varies depending on where you live and your lifestyle. Generally, living expenses are higher in cities than in rural areas. According to Numbeo, a website that provides cost of living data, the average cost of living for a single person in Tokyo is ¥205,200 (US$1,884) per month. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other expenses.

Japanese Snack Box

Housing Costs in Japan

Housing is one of the biggest expenses in Japan. Renting an apartment can be expensive, especially in large cities like Tokyo. According to Real Estate Japan, the average monthly rent for a one-room apartment in Tokyo is around ¥80,000 (US$732). However, prices can vary depending on the location and size of the apartment.

Food Costs in Japan

Food prices in Japan can be quite high compared to other countries. However, there are ways to save money on food. For example, cooking at home instead of eating out can be more affordable. According to Numbeo, a basic lunchtime meal in Tokyo costs around ¥1,000 (US$9), while a dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant can cost around ¥6,000 (US$55).

Transportation Costs in Japan

Transportation costs in Japan can also add up quickly. The most common mode of transportation is the train or subway system. Depending on your location and frequency of use, monthly train passes can cost between ¥10,000 (US$91) and ¥30,000 (US$274). Additionally, owning a car can be expensive due to high gas prices and parking fees.

Healthcare Costs in Japan

Healthcare in Japan is generally affordable and accessible. The national health insurance system covers most medical treatments and procedures. However, you will still need to pay some out-of-pocket expenses such as co-payments and deductibles.

Entertainment Costs in Japan

Japan offers a wide range of entertainment options such as movies, concerts, and theme parks. However, these activities can be expensive. For example, a movie ticket in Tokyo costs around ¥1,800 (US$16) on average.

Taxes in Japan

Japan has a progressive income tax system where higher earners pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. The tax rate ranges from 5% to 45% depending on your income level.

Savings and Retirement Planning

It’s important to plan for retirement and save money for unexpected expenses. Many companies offer retirement plans for their employees. Additionally, setting up a personal savings account or investing in stocks or mutual funds can help you build wealth over time.

The Minimum Wage in Japan

The minimum wage in Japan varies by prefecture but is generally around ¥900 (US$8) per hour. However, this may not be enough to cover all living expenses comfortably.

Salary Expectations for Different Jobs

Salaries for different jobs vary greatly depending on the industry and company size. For example, according to Glassdoor data, the average salary for an English teacher is around ¥3 million (US$27,450) per year while the average salary for an IT engineer is around ¥7 million (US$64,050) per year.


In conclusion, the amount of salary needed to live comfortably in Japan depends on various factors such as location and lifestyle. Generally speaking, a salary of at least ¥4 million (US$36,600) per year is recommended for a single person living in Tokyo. It’s important to carefully consider all living expenses when planning your budget and salary expectations before moving to Japan.

Is it cheaper to live in Japan or America?

Buying a residence in the city center costs around $335 per square foot on average in the US, while in Japan the average is about $760, which is a 57% increase. Despite this, overall house prices in Japan are lower than in the US, especially after the Covid pandemic.

Can you live in Japan with $2000 a month?

The expected monthly transportation costs in Japan range from $70 to $200, while the average monthly cost of living for locals is approximately $2000. Expats and digital nomads may need to spend more, around $1100 to $2000 per month, to maintain their preferred standard of living while residing in Japan. This information was last updated on January 9th, 2023.

Is 300k a good salary in Japan?

In Japan, after paying for rent and utilities, one should have around 250-300k as disposable income each month. With this amount, one can either save money while eating well or indulge in luxurious dining experiences and live a lavish lifestyle. This information was given on January 18th, 2012.

What is the average rent in Japan?

The rent in Japan differs depending on the city, but the average national range is 50 to 70,000 JPY (470-650 USD). Tokyo is the most costly city to rent in.

What is considered middle class in Japan?

In the past, 90% of the Japanese population considered themselves as part of the middle class, which was defined by owning or having access to a car, color TV, and air conditioner – referred to as the “3 Cs”. A middle-class income at that time was equivalent to 5.5 million yen annually in today’s standards.

Is it realistic to move to Japan?

Moving to Japan is not a challenge compared to other Asian countries if you are ready. It is crucial to have all the necessary paperwork in order before your trip to Japan.

Additional Tips for Saving Money

Here are some additional tips for saving money while living in Japan:

1. Use public transportation instead of owning a car. The train and subway systems are efficient and affordable.

2. Shop at discount stores like Don Quijote or Daiso for household items and groceries.

3. Take advantage of free activities such as visiting parks, museums, and temples.

4. Consider living in a share house or dormitory to save money on rent.

5. Purchase a prepaid mobile phone plan instead of a contract plan to save money on monthly phone bills.

6. Buy seasonal produce and cook meals at home instead of eating out at restaurants.

By following these tips, you can save money and live comfortably in Japan without breaking the bank.

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