Living in Tokyo

How much can a single working person in Tokyo save a month?

How much can a single, young working person in Tokyo actually save a month?

Of course, the question of how much you can save depends primarily on how much you make and what your main non-discretionary expenses are.

Cost of Living in Tokyo for a Single Person

In a recent survey, SUUMO, a Japanese real estate website, found that the average single person (between the ages of 20 and 39) living by themselves in greater Tokyo had the following average monthly expenses:

  • Rent: ¥67,500 (600USD)
  • Utilities (gas, water, and electricity): ¥13,000
  • Internet and mobile phone expenses: ¥13,000
  • Food: ¥32,400
  • Total: ¥125,900 (1,119USD)

The reported averages were lower for people in their twenties, but we are only summarizing the overall numbers so we can get a ballpark figure. Your expenses may be a lot different. If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Taxes and Health Insurance

Also, the expenses mentioned above do not consider taxes and health insurance, which are non-discretionary expenses (to say the least!).

Your income tax rate, of course, depends on your income. The example below is for someone who makes a gross salary of ¥250,000 (2,222USD) a month.

With a monthly gross salary of ¥250,000, your take-home pay will be about ¥210,000.

Your employer will make mandatory deductions for social security, unemployment insurance, pension, and health insurance. You will also have to pay income tax.

The second year you are in Japan, you will also have to start paying local inhabitant tax (jyuminzei, 住民税), which will add about ¥13,500 to your tax bill, so your net pay will be about ¥197,000. The approximate deductions are:

  • Unemployment insurance: ¥1,000
  • Pension: ¥20,415
  • Health insurance: ¥12,181
  • Income Tax ¥5,270
  • ¥250,000 – (¥1,000 + ¥20,415 + ¥12,181 + ¥5,270) = ¥211,134

Now back to how much young people are saving!

How much do single working people save?

The data below is based on a survey of young people living in the greater Tokyo region (including Tokyo and the prefectures of Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa) and are tallied from valid responses received from 125 men and 125 women between the ages of 20 and 39 who live by themselves in rental housing.

  • People earning less than ¥2,500,000 (22,220USD) a year had the lowest average savings rate (by salary level), but still managed to save about 5% of their gross annual salary.
  • People earning between ¥5 million and ¥6 million yen had the highest average savings rate at between 11.8% to 14.0%.
  • People earning above ¥7 million a year had a savings rate of about 8.9%.

Average Savings Rates (As a % of Gross Salary) by Annual Income Level For 20 to 39 YO Singles Living in Greater Tokyo

Annual Salary in JPY Approximate Annual
Salary in USD
# of Responses Average Savings
Per Month in JPY
Approximate Savings Rate
(as % of Gross Annual Salary)
<2,500,000 < 22,220 47 9,700 4.66%
2,500,000 to <3,000,000 22,220 to < 26,661 33 26,000 10.4% to 12.5%
3,000,000 to <3,500,000 26,661 to < 31,105 39 30,000 10.3% to 12.0%
3,500,000 to <4,000,000 31,105 to < 35,548 28 29,000 8.7% to 9.9%
4,000,000 to <4,500,000 35,548 to < 39,991 28 36,300 8.7% to 10.9%
4,500,000 to <5,000,000 39,991 to < 44,436 21 43,200 10.6% to 11.5%
5,000,000 to <6,000,000 44,436 to < 53,323 28 58,200 11.8% to 14.0%
6,000,000 to <7,000,000 53,323 to < 62,210 15 61,300 10.7% to 12.3%
> 7,000,000 > 62,210 11 52,000 8.90%
Source: SUUMO. Survey period: March 9 to 17, 2017.

How much total savings do people have?

The survey also asked people how much total savings they had accumulated.

For the surveyed group as a whole, 40% answered that they had savings of less than 1 million yen. The next most frequent answer (at 11.2%) was between 1 million and 2 million yen.

Looking at total savings by income level:

  • People earning less than 3 million yen a year: The highest % of this group had savings of less than 1 million yen
  • People earning between 3 million and less than 3.5 million a year:  About 28.2% of this group had savings of less than 1 million yen a year; 25.6% of this group had savings of between 1 million and less than 2 million a year.
  • People earning between 5 million and less than 6 million yen: The highest % of this group (28.6%) had savings of between 5 million and less than 6 million yen.

Unsurprisingly, the results suggest that as people earned more money, they were able to add more to their net worth.

What do you think of these survey results? Please comment below.

You may also be interested in: Cost of Living in Japan

Top Photo: Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Photo Credit: Takayuki Miki (三木貴幸) via Flicker
  • so 36% of the monthly salary is disposable in the case of bottom earners. Seems similar to living expenses elsewhere, like NYC (assuming that rent is for a single room). if only 4.6% is being saved, how is the other 30% being spent?

    Could a prepaid sim with a bare data plan bring the bill to ¥3,000? ¥32,400 for food seems to me like take-out lunches and dinners, could that be cut in half by cooking at home?

    • Matthew Valentine

      I am not single, so no doubt my food budget will be higher than the average single person, but I rarely eat out (lack of vegetarian options in Japan really limits me) yet I spend sometimes as much as 60K on food in a month. For instance, looking back over the last five months I have spent between 30 and 68K (wow, that was a bit much >.>) on food, not including eating out, for an average of 48694 yen. Thinking about it, that is just the amount I paid with my credit card, and while that accounts for most of my food spending there are some shops (Gyomu Super as an example) that don’t accept card so maybe tack on an extra 5K for that a month. It all depends on how you want to live, what you want to eat etc. I tend to gravitate towards things I would enjoy back home, which often have a more expensive price tag here. Things like less common cheeses, imported chocolate, Nespresso etc., as well as protein powders which are always fairly expensive.

      It is veeery easy to spend a lot on food here if you don’t think too much about it, even as someone who cooks all (well, about 95%) of their meals at home :p I am actively trying to be a bit better about food shopping, so it will be interesting to see over the coming months what my food bill will look like, though I doubt it will come even close to 16K :p. You should see how much of my budget just goes on things like tomatoes ToT

      As for the average internet/phone bill I agree that it seems rather high. I pay for two sims, one with 10GB data, the other with 3GB (no minutes included but most phone calls I make through Whatsapp anyway) and have the fastest internet at home that the line can handle and I only pay 7K a month. Maybe that includes the price of a phone contract too though as sim-only contracts are still fairly rare here?

      • ¥7k for unlimited home internet at what speed? I’m on a 3mbps contract, the lowest and cheapest speed I could find which costs me 19usd a month. or did you mean ¥7k for all three services (2 phone bills and home internet)? in which case, sounds like a good deal. how much does a minute call cost with a prepaid, no-contract sim, and smaller chunks of data like 250mb caps?

        eating healthy is expensive anywhere, for sure, but ¥60k on groceries is on a whole other level, Japanese level. Kudos for keeping up. The 160usd watermelon is kind of a fable around here, whenever people complain about rising banana and fruit prices, we reminisce about the Japanese watermelon to put things into perspective. I´m planning on taking a full scholarship with paid expenses but I’d worry about the quality of the food that schools offer at these campuses for international students. I´m guessing vegetarian is out of the question, but I also doubt their food is as bad as a lunch at a public American school (pizza, burguers, hotdogs and macarrones & cheese all week long)

        • Matthew Valentine

          I meant 7K for it all. The two sims come in at about 5500 and my internet is the rest. Though actually I just remembered that there is an extra 3000 a month for line rental that doesn’t go in my credit card so the total is about 10K. The internet is meant to have a max speed of 100mbps, but in reality I have never come close to that perhaps because of the sheer number of people living in my building (40 floors so there are a lot of people potentially sharing the line, if that’s how it works XD)

          When I was a student I found the food on offer on campus was fairly decent, especially if you are someone who is fairly unfussy. As someone with a lot of dislikes I was fairly limited but it was still pretty good. This was about 8 years ago now, but if it is still the same then expect a lot of traditional hearty Japanese food. Think, donburi, ramen, Japanese curry etc. Lots of rice to fill you up. Vegetarian food is always hard to find, especially interesting vegetarian food. Case in point, my work does offer vegetarian food at the canteen, though it is pretty much always just steamed tofu and rice >.>

          Yeah eating healthy is a nightmare as far as money goes. I don’t even know why some things sold in supermarkets are so expensive. Recently there was a box of cherries for 12K yen. And they often have grapes at that price. I’m guessing they are special ones as you can also get more normally priced varieties. I’m not a huge fan of fruit anyway so I’ve never looked into it.

  • ARMANDO ARBALLO ALEJANDRE

    What would be appealing to the Japanese in terms of additional income, or savings opportunity?

  • Pingback: What is the cost of living for a single person in Tokyo? - Blog()

  • The Real Deal

    This is a great article with very realistic assumptions.

  • PeacefulLife

    Rent: ¥67,500 (600USD) – in the countryside in a 1K maybe. Realistically for even a slight taste of quality of life – taxes, rent, util etc etc – Y200-Y250k a month for expenses and wages being the sheets now unlike the golden years, the savings are not worth the quality of life. Longterm resident that has seen it all.

    • nobitakun

      I don’t agree. You can find sweet apartments about 30-40m2 in areas like shibuya or shinjuku for around 800-900USD. That is cheap eh? if you’re looking for a big mansion then of course, prepare twice as much, but we are talking about single people, you don’t need 70m2 for living alone! 🙁