Is life in Japan expensive?


Is life in Japan really expensive or is that a cliché? This is one recurrent question we get from students before they start planning studying in Japan. (More about money in Japan here).

People who say that life in Japan is expensive usually do not really know Japan. Maybe they are “expats” living in the center of Tokyo. The bottom line is, there are ways to make things affordable in Japan. Even for students with a tight budget (not to mention that foreign students in Japan can easily find jobs and are allowed to work 28 hours a week).

Want any idea? How about a combo meal at McDonald’s (believe it or not, this item is often used as a criteria to compare cost of life in various countries).

$5.73 in Japan (5.09 Euros). So how does that compare to your country’s?

Here are more statistics about costs of living in Japan (Update: February 2016):


In Euro:

Recently, Forbes released a study about taxi fares around the world. As you can see below, beside Seoul and Beijing, Tokyo is the cheapest of those megalopolises in that regard:

Zurich: $27.59

Amsterdam: $16.22

Los Angeles: $15.65

Berlin: $14.78

Paris: $12.43

New York: $11.67

Sydney: $11.52

TOKYO: $7.31

Seoul: $4.45

Beijing: $4.42

We discussed it before: once one knows a few tricks, life in Japan becomes quite affordable. Check the picture below. The same product may cost 298 Yens in a place and 718 Yens in another. Yes, that’s more than double from one place to the next. While it quickly becomes obvious to people that they’d better shop in a supermarket like Seiyu than a luxury depato like Sogo if they want to save money, this simple example illustrates the wide price discrepancies. And that applies to all sorts of items; not just food but also apparels, services etc …


Price discrepancies in Japan


Japan is a developed country. A very modern and high-tech country that provides a lot of comfort. But relatively speaking, living in Japan is not expensive.