Can you live in Tokyo on ¥260,000 a Month? Yes! — Work Here, Live There

Welcome to this installment in the “work here, live there” series.

In this series, we pick currently open jobs listed on GaijinPot Jobs and give examples of various apartments that would be a great match in terms of rent, location, and amenities.

Living in Tokyo on ¥260,000/month

As one of the world’s mega-urban centers, Tokyo is often associated with extremely high housing prices and living costs.

However, if you plan carefully and shop around, you’ll find that you can live comfortably even with a monthly salary of roughly ¥260,000 ($2,500 USD).

Take for example this job listing for an English Teacher in Ota Ward, Tokyo. Using the time-tested estimation that the maximum one should be spending on rent is 30% of their monthly salary, we can estimate that at this income range you should be shooting for a maximum of ¥78,000/month in rent.

On top of your monthly costs for rent, you’ll need to factor in utilities, groceries, and other living essentials. The average cost for utilities for a single-person household in Japan in 2019 was ¥7,265/month (Statistics Bureau of Japan). Add on top of this a wireless contract, which can range from ¥2,753/month from an MVNO (what is an MVNO?) to ¥8,452/month from one of the major wireless carriers in Japan (AU, Docomo, SoftBank) and your monthly expenditures can add up.

Estimated monthly costs

  • +¥260,000/month income
  • -¥41,600 insurance+pension (16%)
  • -¥10,400 income tax (4%)
  • -¥18,200 residence tax (7%) (from 2nd year on)
  • Estimated net monthly income: ¥189,800
  • -¥78,000 rent
  • -¥7,300 utilities
  • -¥3,000 wireless contract
  • -¥29,250 groceries/daily necessities
  • Estimated net savings: ¥72,250/month

The above calculation is a rough estimation and does not take into consideration transportation, hobbies, etc.

For more on estimating monthly expenses, please see: What is the real cost of living for a single person in Tokyo?

What kinds of apartments are available on this kind of salary?

In this range most 1LDK apartments will be out of consideration. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t find any apartments in Tokyo at this price. If you’re thorough in your search you can also find apartments with value-added features that can prove to be very useful as well.

Since we’re taking a look at this job listing for an English Teacher located near Numabe Station (on the Tokyu Tamagawa line) in Ota Ward, our goal is to focus on apartments nearby with a simple commute and/or features with added value.

Numabe isn’t a major hub, so the rent in the area is quite reasonable. This is a situation where you might be able to find an apartment close to work to basically eliminate any commute. Because of this, we’re adding an apartment around the Numabe Station area as well. It’s a personal preference to want to live and work in the same area, but it’s definitely an option you’ll want to weigh when finding an apartment in Tokyo.

It helps to have an idea of where these apartments are located. Using the map below you can kind of get an idea of where these neighborhoods are in relation to each other.

Area (Station) Average rent for 1R/1K Average rent for 1LDK Commute time to Numabe
Numabe ¥77,100 ¥116,300
Tamagawa ¥82,400 ¥121,200 2 min – direct
Kamata ¥87,400 ¥152,000 9 min – direct
Jiyugaoka ¥100,200 ¥178,500 7 min – 1 transfer
Oyamadai ¥101,200 ¥152,100 17 min – 2 transfers

1R apartment near Numabe Station – ¥69,950

  • The area around Numabe Station is very residential, which might throw some people off despite it being located in Tokyo. This can work in the favor of those who enjoy peace and quiet, and with quick access to the open green space around the Tama River, this can also prove to be convenient for those who enjoy jogging or cycling. Since in this particular scenario, the job is also located around Numabe Station, you can have more free time, since you will spend almost no time commuting.
  • Price: ¥69,950/month – NO KEY MONEY + GaijinPot Housing Service
  • Year built: 2016
  • Size: 11.91 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 8 min to Numabe Station (Tokyu Tamagawa line)
  • Closest major hub: 9 min to Kamata Station
  • Browse more listings near Numabe Station

1K apartment near Kamata Station – ¥78,000

  • Kamata is a very convenient area, and offers a wide variety of shops, especially those located in the SunRise Shopping Street and Granduo shopping mall. There are also multiple train lines to take at the station, which can really make getting around Tokyo easier – including lines that go straight to Haneda Airport from Keikyu Kamata Station. This particular apartment is at the maximum monthly rent one should be looking at in this job example, but it also is the most spacious (by a good amount).
  • Price: ¥78,000/month
  • Year built: 2006
  • Size: 33.94 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 15 min to Kamata Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku line, Tokyu Ikegami line, Tokyu Tamagawa line)
  • Closest major hub: Kamata Station
  • Area Guide: Kamata Area Guide
  • Browse more listings near Kamata Station

1R apartment near Kamata Station – ¥70,000

  • This is another apartment in the convenient Kamata area. It’s newer than the other one, and just a hair closer to the station as well. For this apartment, the lower initial move in cost will provide great value and help offset any other apartment costs (appliances, etc.). Also something to keep in mind for social butterflies is that living near a bigger station like Kamata makes it much easier to invite company over.
  • Price: ¥70,000/month – NO DEPOSIT/NO KEY MONEY
  • Year built: 2018
  • Size: 17.41 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 10 min to Kamata Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku line, Tokyu Ikegami line, Tokyu Tamagawa line)
  • Closest major hub: Kamata Station
  • Area Guide: Kamata Area Guide
  • Browse more listings near Kamata Station

Room in shared house near Tamagawa Station – ¥50,000

  • For those with a very budget-oriented outlook, there are even options nearby that can really allow you to save even in Tokyo. Especially with the discounted rent at 6 month or longer contracts, this apartment approaches very low cost-of-living, add on top the fact that furniture is included and you might be able to save quite a bit over half a year to a year at this location. Tamagawa is a calm residential neighborhood with very accessible open green spaces: Denenchofu Seseragi Park (walking paths and waterfall) and Tamagawadai Park (sunset observation deck). Also very close to the Tama River which is a bonus for those who want to take advantage of the long pedestrian path for jogging or cycling.
  • Price: ¥50,000/month – NO KEY MONEY + RENT ¥30,000/mo WITH 6 MONTH+ CONTRACT
  • Year built: 1960
  • Size: 5.20 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: Yes (2nd)
  • Closest station: 4 min to Tamagawa Station (Tokyu Toyoko line, Tokyu Tamagawa line, Tokyu Meguro line)
  • Closest major hub: 13 min to Shibuya Station
  • Browse more listings near Tamagawa Station

1K furnished apartment near Oyamadai Station – ¥69,000

  • This is the wildcard entry in the lineup. A 2-transfer commute isn’t ideal, but this apartment is also 19 min from Jiyugaoka Station. So, if you’re ok with a bit of a walk or a short bicycle ride, you can use Jiyogaoka as your home base and take advantage of the trendy cafes in the popular Jiyugaoka area. This furnished apartment also provides extra added value since you won’t have to worry about purchasing/moving appliances.
  • Price: ¥68,000/month – NO DEPOSIT/NO KEY MONEY
  • Year built: 2008
  • Size: 21.11 m²
  • Separate toilet/bathroom: Yes
  • 2nd floor or higher: No
  • Closest station: 4 min to Oyamadai Station (Tokyu Oimachi line); 19 min to Jiyugaoka Station (Tokyu Toyoko line, Tokyu Oimachi line)
  • Closest major hub: 16 min to Shibuya Station
  • Browse more listings near Oyamadai Station

GaijinPot Housing Service

The GaijinPot Housing Service partners with Japanese real estate agencies and property management companies who want to lease their properties to foreigners, but don’t have the language skills or knowledge to do so. The bilingual team bridges the gap and allows these companies to reach new potential tenants, and foreigners to have access to more options.

Bilingual support. Credit card payment. No guarantor required. Apply from overseas and have your place set up before you arrive. This service makes it easy to rent your home in Japan! Check out more information in this FAQ written by the GaijinPot Housing Service team!

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Average rent in Tokyo by ward and layout for 2020

Japanese Apartment Layouts: Japanese Apartment 101 Guides

How Much Living Space Do You Need to be Happy? Japan Survey Results

How to Rent an Apartment in Japan


Lead photo: iStock