Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cost of Living/Utility Costs in Japan

When you move somewhere to live and work, there are two things you need to know to get you started: how much you'll get paid (<-- teaching English), and what the living costs are.

We'll go over basic food costs another time - so today let's look at the cost of running a house/apartment.

Here are my typical bills for the month. More details below.

Where appropriate, blue numbers are summer, red represent winter. Numbers are, of course, yen.


Two people sharing an old 3DK house:
  • Electricity: 2-3,000 3,500-4,000
  • Gas: 5-7,000 10,000
  • Water: 3-3,500

    = 10,000-13,500 16,500
One person in a modern one-room Leo Palace apartment:
  • Electricity: 2,500 3,500
  • Gas: 4,000 8,000
  • Water: 2,500

    = 9,000 14,000

  • Rent: 40-70,000++ depending on location

You will notice in the figures above that electricty doesn't vary muct between a house and an apartment, and in general is pretty low. This may be different in a big city/very modern apartment where it's growing in popularity to have the "gas" facilties (stove, water heating) electrically powered.

Gas is the main player in most Japanese homes, as can be seen in the costs. The massive difference between summer and winter comes from the heating of the water in the freezing environment. Expect considerably more if you like to take baths.

There are two types of gas, and the price can vary quite a lot between them. However you don't get to choose which type you have - it depends on your location and the infrastructure of your city.

You may also want to consider the cost of recycling/disposing of your rubbish. We have a separate article covering the sorting and associated costs of recycling here.

Misc bills
  • Internet: 6,720 (cheaper options available)
  • Mobile phone: 2,000 +
  • School Lunch: 5,000 (varies slightly)
  • Car Insurance: 7-8,000 (slightly cheaper and vastly more expensive options out there)
One thing to bear in mind is that there is no central-heating or double-glazing system in Japan (though I have heard rumours of both in Hokkaido). For this reason you will spend a bit of money on 灯油 (touyu) - kerosene to use with your heater (unless you have a modern apartment which is well insulated/small enough to get-by with just an electric one/kotatsu). It will vary person to person, but a budget of 2,000-6,000yen a month should keep you covered for the winter.

Other things you might want:
  • Landline phone - your best bet here is to get a VoIP phoneline packaged with your internet. It's only a few hundred extra yen and saves the 35,000 installation fee for a dedicated landline. Or a Skype number.
  • English newspaper: 2,650
  • TV licence: 15,490pa (slightly less on direct debit, and you may be interested to know that there is no fine for non-payment)
  • Satelite TV: 25,520pa
 Did I miss anything? Any comments? Stick them in the box below.


  1. One small thing you might want to mention is Trash. Depending on the location, they have different methods of collecting it. Some places require you to pre-purchase specific trash bags before they'll collect it (I didn't know this when I went!). Relatively small fee.

  2. Thanks, Jay. We actually have a post covering that, I'll interlink the two now.

    Here it is:

  3. I think you will find the electricity is quite cheap. IMO it will probably cost more?

  4. Kounetsuhi wa totemo baka ni yasuii dayo...!