How much do you spend a month living in Tokyo?

In this article we’ve gathered data on how much three foreign residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area spend on average per month. Our sample selection of residents will remain anonymous as a measure to protect their privacy, but all three have been living and working in Japan for at least two years. Let’s take a look at their spending habits in Tokyo!

Estimated monthly expenses

Resident A

Saitama City, Saitama

Resident B

Kita Ward, Tokyo

Resident C

Nerima Ward, Tokyo

Rent ¥80,000 ¥74,000 ¥83,000
Transportation ¥2,000 ¥4,000 ¥5,000
Teikiken (provided by company) ¥17,000 ¥13,000 ¥10,000
Groceries/daily necessities ¥40,000 ¥10,000 ¥5,000
Restaurants ¥7,500 ¥16,000 ¥7,500
Water bill ¥6,000 ¥3,100 ¥2,000
Gas bill ¥4,500 ¥2,100 ¥2,000
Electricity bill ¥2,500 ¥3,100 ¥2,000
Phone ¥15,000 ¥4,200 ¥2,000
Internet Included with phone plan Included with rent ¥4,000
Entertainment (hobbies, streaming services, concerts, etc.) ¥7,500 ¥8,000 ¥5,000
Total (minus Teikiken) ¥165,000 ¥124,500 ¥117,500

Teikiken is the commuter price for using public transportation. This is generally paid for by employers. As such, it is not included in the Total row, but it’s an indication of how far away one commutes to work. The more expensive it is to commute, the longer the commute is, in general.

What stands out to you after glancing through these estimated monthly expenses? 

Resident A (30s) is married with one child and lives in Saitama City. Some of the items in Resident A’s column reflect this family expense. For example, monthly costs for groceries for a family of three will eclipse those of a single resident. The phone bill for Resident A is also a family plan covering two lines at the moment. Also, their phones are being paid through monthly installments as part of the phone bill.

Resident B (30s) is a single office worker living and working in Tokyo. A self-proclaimed food enthusiast, Resident B splurges on restaurants fairly often, and this has a direct impact on monthly expenses. Resident B had experience using one of the large cellular networks (AU, docomo, Soft Bank), but felt the monthly cost (at the time, roughly ¥8,000 per month) was not a good value. To combat this expense, Resident B purchased a used phone and switched to a MVNO service and has had no complaints so far.

An example of Resident B’s typical grocery purchasing. This was roughly ¥2,000 for around a week of dinners, as Resident B does not pack a bento for lunch.

Resident C (20s) is a single office worker who also attends Japanese language lessons in the evening paid for by their company. Recently, Resident C has been feeling stretched thin with work deadlines and school tests, so they have been relying on pre-made meals at the supermarket and convenience stores for meals. While these are extremely convenient for those who don’t have time to cook everyday, it is generally healthier and cheaper to prepare your own meals using fresh produce.

The above are various examples of the pre-packaged meals Resident C has been relying on for quick and convenient food. Not only can you find these pre-packaged meals in convenience stores, but most supermarkets will also have a section with bento, pre-packaged meals, and other cooked foods.

Things to note about our residents being examined in this article: none own a car or motor vehicle, none own a pet, and none are smokers. Falling under any of those categories would raise your monthly expenses quite a bit. Also, our residents for this article all live in smaller residential neighborhoods of Tokyo. This allows them to save a little bit more on rent, compared to living in a downtown location like Daikanyama, Roppongi, or Shirokane. For those interested in finding affordable apartments within the 23 wards of Tokyo, take a look at our article on the least expensive stations on the Yamanote Line!

This list doesn’t include an estimate of the resident tax or pension cost per month. So please use these figures just as a rough base estimate as to how some foreign residents of Japan allocate their expenses per month. For more on resident and pension costs, please see this article: What is the real cost of living in Tokyo?

That does it for us for today’s look at expat spending habits in Tokyo! Do these seem similar to your spending habits? Anything noticeably different?