【How much does it cost to live alone in Tokyo?】Monthly living expenses in Tokyo compared to the average

【How much does it cost to live alone in Tokyo?】Monthly living expenses in Tokyo compared to the average


Housing in Japan

Do you know how much it costs monthly to live alone in Tokyo?

The cost of living abroad and in Tokyo are not the same. If you’ve never lived in Japan or are thinking about living in Tokyo, this is the article for you.


It is generally said that rent should be no more than one third of your salary. But some of you may think, “I’d like to live in a clean room, even if the rent is half of my salary and life gets a little tougher…”


Is it possible? You will find out in this article. We’ll tell you the cost of living alone in Tokyo and compare it to the national average. In this article, we’ll also share some money-saving tips.


If you have never lived in Tokyo alone, it might be difficult to imagine how expensive it is living here. This article will be useful for you.

1 What is the Average Cost of Living in Japan?

2 My Cost of Living in Tokyo

3 Money Saving Tips for Living Alone in Tokyo



1. What is the Average Cost of Living in Japan?


Excluding rent, living expenses for one person in Tokyo are about 130,000 yen. Don’t you think it’s a little hard to pay 130,000 yen plus rent every month? Anyway, the expenditure items and amounts are as follows:


Food 40,000 yen
Utilities 10,000 yen
Communication 10,000 yen
Transportation 20,000 yen
Socializing 15,000 yen
Healthcare 8,000 yen
Clothing 6,000 yen
Miscellaneous 15,000 yen
Total 124,000 yen

*Average of Monthly Receipts and Disbursements per One-Person Household 2019

Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications


The above is an average. Whether you perceive these numbers as high or low will depend on your income and where you currently live.


There are three extra costs you will have to pay if you live in Tokyo rather than elsewhere in Japan.

・Transportation (you will be traveling mainly by train)

・Socializing (there are many entertainment facilities in Tokyo)

・Food (there are many good restaurants, too)


When you look at this cost of living table, you might think like this.

―Why don’t you just get a cheap phone?

―I’m fine, so I don’t have to pay for health care.

―I can save more money on utilities and food costs.


But if you attend a friend’s wedding ceremony, or you are invited to some parties, or you purchase a rather expensive dress or bag as a reward for your hard work… small amounts of spending can pile up. It’s harder than you think to save money in Japan.


2. My Cost of Living in Tokyo


I’m living on my own in Tokyo and I’d like to share with you my cost of living. I took this opportunity to review my own expenses and was surprised to find that I was spending more than I expected.


Food 44,000 yen
Utilities 12,000 yen
Communication 3,000 yen
Transportation 10,000 yen
Socializing 20,000 yen
Healthcare 5,000 yen
Clothing and Beauty Care 30,000 yen
Refunding Student Loans 15,000 yen
Miscellaneous 15,000 yen
Total 154,000 yen


There are three major differences in my spending from the average

  • Communication
  • Clothing and Beauty Care
  • Refunding Student Loans



I have a contract for a cheap phone with internet included, which helps me keep my monthly costs down. However, you have to pay a lump sum at the beginning for a cheap phone.


・Clothing and Beauty Care

As a young woman, I don’t want to save money on clothing and beauty care. Buying clothes and beauty care products is refreshing for me. When I have extra money for clothes and beauty and food, I save it. I save money when I have extra money after spending on clothes, beauty care and food.


・Refunding Student Loans

Student Loan payments are deducted each month, just like the rent.

Many people have some kind of loan. When you have some loan, in my case a student loan, and others have a car loan, a beauty salon loan, or a subscription service, you’re spending money without being aware that you’re spending it, you have to be careful with those kinds of expenses.



I cook for myself. But I’m not a good cook, so my meals are very simple, like natto (fermented soy beans) and rice. Making lunche is a hassle, so I always go to the convenience store for lunch (about ¥10,000/month) and I always drink banana juice in the morning (¥4,000/month). My monthly food budget depends on how much money I’ve spent on dinner, so it varies from month to month. Some days I eat just natto and rice as dinner, other days I go to a restaurant, or use Uber Eats. I count it as 1,000 yen a day on average.



I have been told that I am overspending on utilities. My sister says her utility bill is \6-7,000, so I am sure that if I don’t leave the lights on or leave the water running, I could probably cut back on my expenses even more. I should be more careful.


3. Money Saving Tips for Living Alone in Tokyo


Now you see how much it costs per month, right?

Next, this article will give you some money saving tips. These are proven tips from my own experience and from friends and acquaintances who have put them into practice.


Food ~ Cooking for Yourself

Cooking for yourself can help you reduce your food expenditures. You have to commit to cooking everyday though, or else the food you buy may go bad. If you’re not in the habit of cooking, you might start with once or twice a week.


Don’t Go to the Convenience Store

Convenience stores are very convenient because they are close to you. That’s why you often stop by even if you don’t have a purpose. But the prices are high and you tend to buy things you don’t need. When shopping, even if it’s far away, you should use the supermarket!


Utilities ~ “Little and often fills the purse”

Turn off the electricity from the mains, not the switch. Turn off water immediately when not in use. It’s the little things you do every day that save you money!


Compare your utility contract with other companies

Recently in Japan, residents have been given the choice to contract freely with a variety of utility companies. You can choose the company and plan that best suits your lifestyle, and some of them may even be advantageous to you. There are many types available, so be sure to check them out.

*By the way, air conditioners cost more in electricity when used as a heater than as a cooler. Be careful.


Communication ~ Review Your Contract

Some people were paying $1,080 per month for unnecessary services, and others contract on a landline phone plan who don’t use a landline though. It is very common to sign a contract without checking the contract details first, so it may be a good idea to review your contract.


Switching to Low-Cost Smartphone

There are a lot of cheap smartphones on the market. You can change to the low-cost type, instead of reviewing your plan. To change the model, you have to pay an initial cost, but it might be cheaper in the long run.




I’m sure you’ll agree with the first phrase, “Rent should be no more than a third of your salary”. The MIC statistics that I quoted in this article are the national averages, so there will be differences depending on region. By comparing your current cost of living with the average, you will be able to see where you can save.

More articles recommend for you