Living in Tokyo

What is the real cost of living for a single person in Tokyo? Survey of 20 and 30 Year Olds

In this article, we estimate the actual cost of living for a single person living in the greater Tokyo area, which includes the Tokyo 23 Wards, Tokyo’s western suburbs, and Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa prefectures. Kanagawa includes cities like Yokohama, Kawasaki, Sagamihara, and Yokosuka.

Average Monthly Cost of Living for a Single Person

The following calculation takes the case of a single 20-something single-person living in Tokyo, making a monthly gross salary of ¥250,000($2,267) and using average housing, utility, phone/internet, and food expenses reported by 20- and 30-somethings living in greater Tokyo.

  • Total estimated average monthly cost of living: ¥179,000
  • Housing: ¥67,500
  • Utilities: ¥13,000
  • Smart phone/Internet: ¥13,000
  • Food: ¥32,400
  • Residence Tax: ¥13,500
  • Income Tax: ¥5,270
  • Health insurance: ¥12,181
  • Unemployment insurance: ¥1,000
  • Pension contribution: ¥20,415

For more details, please see the individual categories below.

Average Monthly Housing Cost

When you budget for your monthly housing expenses, remember that the advertised monthly rent (yachin, 家賃) in most real estate listings in Japan do not include maintenance fees (kanri-hi, 管理費) or common area fees (kyouekihi, 共益費). However, not all apartments charge maintenance fees or common area fees, which can vary widely: from several thousand yen a month to tens of thousands of yen per month for luxury properties with high-end amenities.

On Real Estate Japan, we show both the monthly rent for the property and the Total Monthly Cost (which includes any maintenance  fees) for renting the apartment. The Total Monthly Cost is the actual monthly cost you’ll be paying.

Now back to the survey!

In the Greater Tokyo area, here is the average of what 20- and 30-somethings say they are spending on housing in a month.

  • Monthly Housing Cost (Overall): ¥67,500 ($613)
  • Men (Overall): ¥65,700
  • Women (Overall): ¥69,300
  • 20-Somethings (Overall): ¥64,600
  • 20-Something Men: ¥63,800
  • 20-Something Women: ¥65,000
  • 30-Somethings (Overall): ¥68,300
  • 30-Something Men: ¥66,000
  • 30-Something Women: ¥79,000

One point that stands out is that women in general tend to spend more on housing; 30-something women, especially, report much higher than average housing costs.

Average Utility Costs

  • Average monthly utility cost (including gas, water, and electricity): ¥13,000 ($118)

The survey results were quite consistent across age groups and gender, and ¥13,000 seems to be the magic number. However, women in general reported spending slightly less than men on utility costs.

Average Smart Phone & Internet Costs

  • Average monthly smart phone and internet cost: ¥13,000

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Average Monthly Food Expenses

  • Average monthly food expenses: ¥32,400

This amount will, of course, vary a lot depending on how much you eat out. In the survey, many respondents mentioned that they actively try to cut food expenses by packing their lunches,  strictly sticking to a shopping list, and not buying bottled drinks.

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Data source: SUUMO Journal (March 2017 survey)