Cost of Living in Japan: Household Survey

In this article, we take a look at the average cost of living for a family in Japan. The data below comes from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication’s just released nationwide survey on household expenditures for 2016 (in Japanese).

What do you mean by “household”?

The data below is for households consisting of at least two people and one working person (wage earner). In the survey sample, the average household had 3.39 people and 1.74 wage earners. The average age of the head of household was 48.5.

What is the monthly cost of living in Japan by household?

The average monthly cost of living in Japan for a household with two or more people is ¥407,867 ($3,675). This includes consumption expenditures (like food, utilities, and clothing) and non-consumption expenditures like payroll taxes and social security premium payments, but does not  include rent or home mortgage payments.

What do households spend the most money on?

Excluding rent or home mortgage payments, the top three items households spent money on were: 1) “Non-consumption expenditures” (basically, direct payroll taxes and social security payments), at an average of ¥98,276 per month 2) Food, at an average of ¥74,770 per month, and 3) “Other Consumption Expenditures,” which consist of pocket money, expenses for going out/socializing, and remittances to children and family members not living under the same roof. The average for this category was ¥61,439 per month.

What about rent or mortgage payments?

This survey did not cover rent or mortgage payments, but we have plenty of data on average rent for you to estimate costs.

The average rent in Tokyo‘s 23 Wards is about ¥97,000 per month, or about ¥2,936 per square meter, for a non-expat-type apartment. For a more detailed breakdown by each of the 23 Wards, please see: Average rent in Tokyo by Ward

Average rent outside of Tokyo is significantly less. For a detailed breakdown of average rent by prefecture, please see: Average rent in Japan by prefecture

The rate of homeownership of people surveyed was about 76.9%, so a majority of people surveyed would be making monthly mortgage payments (unless they have already paid off their mortgage!). This rate of homeownership is very high, compared to Tokyo, where only about 46.2% of households in Tokyo own their own home,

What is the average mortgage payment?

The Ministry’s survey did not cover this data point. The data below is from another survey (in Japanese), which asked households how much they pay a month on their home loan. The distribution of answers varies widely, but one thing to note is that about two-thirds of household have mortgage payments of less than ¥90,000 a month. This is amount is not necessarily surprising given Japan’s historically low interest rate environment.

In answer to: “What is your monthly mortgage payment?”

  • Less than ¥50,000: 18.8%
  • More than ¥50,000 but less than ¥70,000: 25.9%
  • More than ¥70,000 but less than ¥90,000: 22.7%
  • More than ¥90,000 but less than ¥110,000: 16.6%
  • More than ¥110,000 but less than ¥113,000: 8.3%
  • More than ¥113,000 but less than ¥115,000: 4.4%
  • More than 150,o00 but less than ¥200,000: 1.1%

How much do households spend on utilities?

The average household utility (electricity, gas, and water) bill is ¥20,730 a month. Please see the charts below for a breakdown by each utility.

How much do households spend on food and what do they buy?

The average working household spends on average ¥74,770 a month on food, including ¥11,942 a month on eating out. Please see the charts below for a detailed breakdown of the various food categories.

Show me the data!

The charts below give a detailed breakdown of the average cost of living for a two-person or more household, further broken down into different wage-earner categories: Non-office workers, regular laborers, and office workers (both in the private and public sectors).

Expenditure on Food

The chart below shows the average expenditure on food by category.

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