Moving to Japan entails a large amount of planning and forethought, and one of the largest factors is money. Check out our article on the cost of living in Japan.
Moving to a new country can involve many new experiences and planning for such a move will make you think about different aspects of life in your new country. Learning new customs, navigating public transportation, and enjoying festivals are all a part of the Japanese experience. You need to think about the cost of living in Japan when looking at Japanese apartments. Certain areas of life in Japan will differ greatly from your home country and money is another thing that will change. We will look at some of the basic costs of living in Japan and some of the uncommon things as well.
Utilities and Housing
The first big adjustment you will probably make is for housing. You will find through searching for an apartment, that some new charges will drive up the cost of living in Japan. One major payment that people will encounter is key money. Key money is a general fee for living in a Japanese apartment and is seen as a gift to the landlord for allowing you to live in their apartment. It is usually another month of rent that is given when you pay your deposit and the first month of rent. Depending on the building, there could be an extra maintenance fee added every month for basic cleaning and security upkeep.
Utilities can be different depending on the area or building you live in. Some cities exempt payments for a certain utility. For example, you may not have a water bill in some areas and in others, you will not need to pay a maintenance fee. Your utilities will all cost an initial activation fee and will vary depending on usage. Some companies will offer to reduce your bills with special deals or campaigns. In terms of the essential costs of living in Japan, utilities are comparable to other western countries.
There are special city taxes in every city and there is also the national health tax and pension. These all add up to a once a month payment that you will need to pay using slips delivered to you from city hall. Your city tax will differ between cities. You can adjust your cost of living depending on what you think is best for you. Ask your real estate agent or landlord about the different costs that will be required of you.
Food and Eating out
One thing that everyone will worry about is monthly food costs. Certain things in Japan will be priced much higher than in your home country, like vegetables and especially fruits. You will find some fruits cost 2 to 4 times as much as what you are used to. There may not be the kinds of fruit you want as well so you may need to find some new favorite fruits. You can find the Japanese version of most things and they import a lot of fruit from neighboring countries as well.
Most apartments have small kitchens that make it difficult to prepare meals comfortably. This makes most people go out to eat at least once a week. You will find if you go out too much you will drain your bank account quickly. There are a lot of fast food places and local restaurants you can go to try and keep the costs low, but it won’t be as cheap as making meals yourself.
Imported foods are very expensive and you won’t be able to find everything you want. It is best to find the Japanese equivalent of whatever foods you are missing. There are many western restaurants in Japan as well and you can use those to sate your appetite. This cost of living expense is completely dependent on your taste and how you wish to enjoy your food when living in Japan.
Transportation systems in Japan are some of the best in the world. The trains run on time, the buses are frequent, and there are plenty of taxis to call on. There will be a significant price increase for anyone who has not lived in a city or major metropolitan area. The prices will become larger the more you travel, and you can end up paying over 10,000 yen a week just going to work. Luckily, most companies are willing to pay your travel expenses, or they will give you a travel pass for certain lines.
Entertainment and Leisure
The country of Japan has no shortage of fun things to do and their entertainment districts are filled with places to enjoy your evening. Karaoke shops are everywhere, and many bars to enjoy drinks. This can be dangerous for your bank account as you may end up spending more than you planned. Too many trips to karaoke can be expensive and leave you worrying about your next bills. Even if you go in groups you could find the price a little steep. You could easily spend 20,000 yen at an izakaya if you don’t pay attention.
City Living vs Countryside
The cost of living in the city and the countryside are very different. The city is generally more expensive since there are a few more things that you have to pay for. Transportation changes drastically as most rural areas require you to drive. Japanese apartments tend to be lower in price and the ability to get large houses for cheap is much easier. The taxes may be cheaper in the countryside as well and the way of life is slower too. You won’t have as many options for entertainment or eating out so you will be forced to cook for yourself regularly. It will take a different mindset when trying to budget and figure out the cost of living in Japan.
When looking for a Japanese apartment you can find many options that will fit your needs. You should make sure to consider all of the different fees and extra payments you’ll make during your stay. You will need to keep tabs on your spending and check all your expenses before and after arriving so you can budget correctly. Take your time and ask as many questions as you can before you move so you can get the best idea of the living costs of your new home.