Japan has long been known as the land of the rising sun. It’s also home to one of the most expensive cities in the world. But not anymore! There are many cheap places to live in Japan.
In this article, we will look at the cheapest places to live in Japan and how to get started living cheaply. We will also explore why these areas are so inexpensive.
We will cover topics such as; where to find affordable housing, how to save money while traveling, and tips for finding jobs in Japan.
This article will help you understand the reasons behind the low cost of living in Japan, and provide you with information on how to make the most of your stay.
9 Cheapest Places to Live in Japan
With a large, developed economy and a high standard of living, it makes sense that Japan is often considered one of the best places to live in the world. However, this does come at a price. Many everyday products are expensive, taxes are high, and life costs are much higher compared to other countries.
But, there are still plenty of reasons why people choose to move to Japan. From affordable housing to a low cost of living, here are seven things you didn’t know about Japan.
Sapporo, home to Japan’s oldest eponymous beer brand, is the largest city on the island of Hokkaido, located in the far north of the country. It is far removed from life on Honshu, where most of Japan’s major cities are located. Sapporo offers a traditional Japanese life different from that of the central regions, but it has gained an impressive reputation.
It is the cultural, economic and political epicenter of Hokkaido Island and has become an important city since the 19th century; once a rural village, Sapporo is now the fifth largest city in Japan. It is also one of the coldest, with sub-zero temperatures during the winter months. But the city has taken advantage of this, and the area is known for its excellent skiing and the Sapporo Snow Festival, which attracts millions of tourists each year.
Home to everything from the Winter Olympics to the Football and Rugby World Cups, Sapporo has put Hokkaido on the map and is well worth a visit. Best of all, despite its popularity and cultural importance, Sapporo is one of the cheapest places to live in Japan. Residents can get by on an average of 160,000 yen per month, or about $1,550. It’s even cheaper for students, as tuition is lower than in other major cities and the cost of living is about USD 800 per month.
We don’t know why second cities have such a bad reputation, but Osaka breaks the mold. This vibrant, youthful metropolis offers a little bit of everything and is the closest thing to living in Tokyo on a budget.
With a population of about 20 million, it’s on par with some of the world’s most populous cities. It’s a perfect choice for energetic expats looking for uninterrupted city life without having to spend a fortune. Osaka is a port city and financial center where major technology companies such as Sharp and Panasonic are located. But it’s easy to escape the business world, as trendy neighborhoods such as Horie, Namba and Amemura are booming for drinking, eating and living.
The cost of living is estimated at an average of ¥170,000 per month, or US$1,500, with reasonable costs for living, utilities and food. The efficiency of the transportation system is also a major attraction, although Osaka is about 15% cheaper than Tokyo overall.
Another option for a taste of Tokyo without the high prices is Kawasaki, a stone’s throw from the greater metropolitan area and a 40-minute train ride away. The eponymous motorcycle may be the first image one conjures up of this city, but Kawasaki is much more than an industry and is full of unsung charm.
This river city is home to a vast network of canals, intricate shrines and fascinating museums waiting to be discovered. But Kawasaki is also a wonderful vantage point for the surrounding areas, with the country’s latest facilities and technologies making daily life ever more convenient.
Kawasaki is an excellent choice to escape the crowds and pollution of Tokyo, with its own labor market. However, it is also a smart gateway to the capital for commuters, with rental prices 50% lower. The average cost of living is estimated at 165,000 yen per month, or about $1,450.
Life in Japan is not limited to modern metropolises. Although it is one of the most innovative societies, it is good to enjoy the diversity of the landscape, and Tsushima Island offers a glimpse of this.
With nature reserves, tropical vegetation, pristine beaches, and towering mountain peaks, there are sumptuous landscapes at every turn and big city views to balance it all out. The archipelago is actually made up of 100 different islands, covering 709 square kilometers and 90% of which is mountain forest.
Despite this, the island city of Tsushima is a comfortable and accessible place to live. As the only city in the region, life revolves around the sea with a unique society where Japanese and Korean cultures meet. The cost of living in Tsushima is surprisingly low for an area that offers so much. Residents can get by on just ¥140,000 a month ” living cost”, or $1,200, and one-bedroom apartments can cost $400 a month.
The capital of Okinawa Prefecture, this Japanese city is located in the small group of tropical islands south of mainland Japan. On the coast of the East China Sea, Naha is another city that combines multiple Japanese cultures, with traditional art and architecture and a modern metropolitan area.
Naha is home to Shuri Castle, a restored 15th century palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the birthplace of Japan’s national martial art, karate. Tsuboya district attracts tourists with its traditional pottery, stores and “shiisa” stands selling lion and dog figurines native to the area. The main street and the surrounding Kokusaidori area are the life and soul of Naha. With stores, bars and restaurants in abundance, you’ll find a lively atmosphere and an excellent base for expats.
Overall, Okinawa is a reasonable place to live in Japan, given its unique location and stunning scenery. Estimated costs in Naha are about ¥150,000 per month, or US$1,300, and studios in the city center average monthly cost is US$660.
Fukuoka, Japan’s sixth largest city and second largest port, is best known for its distinctive cuisine, memorable shrines, castle ruins and varied nightlife. Located on the northern coast of Kyushu, it is a gateway to the rest of the island. It offers excellent career opportunities and a growing urban environment ideal for expatriates.
Modern shopping, beaches and entertainment are found among ancient temples and fortifications. The central district of Hakata is home to Tocho-ji Temple, which houses a 10-meter wooden Buddha, and the Hakaha Mahiya Folk Museum, which showcases life in the Meji and Taisho eras. Downstream from the river is the Nakasu red-light district, which is full of bars and nightclubs and is the epicenter of entertainment.
It is possible to find attractive accommodation in the city center for less than US$700 per month, and the cost of living is 25% lower than in Tokyo. The average price is 133,000 yen per month, or $1,155, and can be cut in half for students.
Not only one of the best cities to live in Japan, but also in the world, Kyoto is the religious and cultural center of the country. Kyoto rivals Tokyo in grandeur as the “imperial capital,” and its historical significance is beyond question.
Kyoto attracts millions of tourists each year, and its expatriate community is vibrant and thriving. Offering a slower pace of life than the eastern capital, the city has charm around every corner and is ideal for exploring the raw beauty of Japan. There are a host of gems to discover, from Kinkaku-Ji, Kamigamo and Shimagamo, to Shibuya Crossing, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and none other than Mount Fuji, all of which contribute to the high quality of life.
Housing options are plentiful and incredibly affordable, averaging around 400 USD per month, making it one of the cheapest places in Japan to live. Food and utilities can be a bit more expensive than in other areas, but this makes Kyoto a reasonable place to live on a monthly basis at around 180,000 yen, or $1,550 USD.
Drive less than an hour from Tokyo and you’ll hit on the coastal city of Kamakura. At one point, it was the political center of Japan. Those days may be gone, but it’s still got a unique place in Japanese society, not least for its stunning location.
Nestled between wooded hills and packed with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, it’s easy to see what draws so many visitors to the city every year. For more long-term visitors, the city has plenty to recommend it, including affordable accommodation and a cost of living that, by Tokyo standards at least, is dazzlingly low.
The city of Yokohama by night
A livable version of Tokyo in terms of cost of living: Yokohama is almost the largest city in Japan (just after Tokyo). The city’s modern shopping and entertainment options rival those of Tokyo. However, the main reason why people continue to stay here is the fact that one can easily afford housing in Yokohama, which ranges from $750 to $1000.
Living near Tokyo: If you have a business located in the capital city, you don’t need to live in Tokyo. From Yokohama station to Tokyo stations, it takes only 30 minutes to travel, making Yokohama a so-called suburban city. Interestingly, Yokohama is also close to Hakone, where you can hike up Mount Fuji and see Lake Ashinoko.
Family town: I don’t mean you have to have a family to live here, but it would be a nice option if you do. The local government not only offers great support for education and childcare, but also built the best family facilities, high quality elementary schools.
Hotel: $75/ night
Cost of living for ex-pat: $2,262/ month
1 bedroom studio: $1.362/ month
Hotel: $75/ night
Surprised, a big city made the list of the cheapest cities to live in Japan. It’s true.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you live in Japan cheaply
Don’t make a lot of money. It forces you to be a Frugle. If you’re a Frugle, it’s easy to live cheaply. You may not need to pay for your mandatory health insurance, which no one will stop you for, as far as I know, but if you were to find yourself in a situation where you needed it, you would be in trouble.
Food can be very cheap, water is free. A tent and a sleeping bag are cheap. Public toilets are very common. It is even easy to find abandoned buildings in which you can stay.
Life won’t be easy, but if you stay away from expensive drugs and alcohol, it won’t be difficult. In general, the risk of being a victim of violent crime is lower in Japan than in other countries, because there are whole communities in the tent cities, with very strict social rules, that look after your safety.
Is it cheaper to live in Japan or USA
it all comes to where do you wanna live and how. I lived in Tokyo, then I moved to New York and came back to Tokyo. Living in New York City is more expensive anyway.
But again, it depends on what you are accustomed to. Meat is expensive in both cities, but in Japan, we eat less meat. In New York City, you can find some fruits at lower prices than they would be at supermarkets in Tokyo or other larger cities. Housing is much cheaper in Japan than in America.
Overall, I make more money in America, but I also pay more taxes and have higher expenses, such as insurance, transportation, medical care, etc. In Japan, I earn a little less, but I can save a lot more.