How much does it cost to live in Tokyo as an international student? Japan’s capital city is famed for its advanced technologies and convenient transportation system, but does this make it a more expensive city to live in?

What are the average living expenses in Tokyo as an international student? Did you know that Tokyo may not be as expensive to live in as you may first think. Compared to the likes of New York or London, Tokyo is more convenient for young adults due to the abundance of cheap eateries and the ability to travel virtually anywhere without having to own a car. Furthermore, international students in Japan benefit from subsidized tuition fees thanks to the government-sponsored Global 30 Program. 

Here at Schoolynk, we have compiled the below data for the average living expenses in Tokyo. The data has been gathered using multiple sources such as JASSO, The Tokyo metropolitan government data, and from interviews and anecdotes from current international students living in Tokyo. The USD conversion rate of 105 JPY as of February 2021 has been used in the below calculation.

Average Living expenses in Tokyo for students

ItemPrice JPYPrice USD
Rent44,000419
Food30,000286
Utility charges7,00067
Hobby & entertainment6,00057
Commuting expenses5,00047
Insurance & medical 3,00028
Miscellaneous5,00047
TOTAL100,000952
Summary Table of living expense in Tokyo

Tokyo Living Expense 1: Rent 

Rent prices are fairly affordable in Tokyo!

JPY 44,000 (USD 418)

Rent is often the biggest expense but it is not too expensive in Japan, costing an average of JPY 64,000 per month, or about $100 USD a week. This is usually for a private room (not flat sharing). However, it should be mentioned that the average house size is rather small in Tokyo. 

Tokyo Living Expense 2: Food 

Foodie paradise Tokyo!

JPY 30,000 (USD 286)

Food is an expense you can’t really avoid. Tokyo is one of the few cities in the world where eating out is extremely cheap. Sometimes, grabbing a bowl of Gyudon from Yoshinoya (352 yen) is much cheaper than cooking at home. 

We have found that meat and dairy products are can be fairly cheap in Tokyo. However, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be more on the expensive side. 

See below for the average prices of major food products in Japan. 

  • Rice (5 kg) – JPY 2,137 (USD 19) 
  • Bread (1 kg) – JPY 435 (USD 4) 
  • Milk (1 L) – JPY 223 (USD 2) 
  • Eggs (10) – JPY 248 (USD 2)
  • Apples (1 kg) – JPY 497 (USD 4)
  • Cabbage (1 kg) – JPY 244 (USD 2) 

Tokyo Living Expense 3: Utility charges 

Bills bills bills!

JPY 7,000 (USD 67)

Utility charges often average out to around JPY 7000. Air conditioning during the summer and heating during the winter is recommended. Tokyo benefits from a speedy fiber Wifi connection. 

Tokyo Living Expense 4: Hobby & entertainment 

JPY 6,000 (USD 57) 

Hanging around in Tokyo is paradise. There are countless movie theaters, game centers, and nightlife hotspots to enjoy. The estimate is rather conservative so be careful of spending too much! 

Check out this article for the Most Popular Student Hangouts in Tokyo

Tokyo Living Expense 5: Commuting expenses 

Tokyo trains are coinvent, efficient, and surprisingly cheap!

JPY 5,000 (USD 47)

Tokyo is conveniently interconnected by a maze of trains, subway, and buses. Students can benefit from reduced monthly prices, which offer unlimited stops between your home and campus. 

Tokyo Living Expense 6: Insurance & medical

JPY 3,000 (USD 28)

Insurance in Tokyo is extremely cheap for International students as they can just sign up to the National Health Insurance Program – the same way as that for citizens. 

Tokyo Living Expense 7: Miscellaneous

JPY 5,000 (USD 47) 

From clothing and personal care to books and music, Tokyo has you covered!

Total – JPY 100,000 (USD 980) per month

Living expense in Tokyo compared to other cities 

Being the nation’s capital, Tokyo has slightly higher living expenses compared to the rest of the country

How does Tokyo’s cost of living compare to other Japanese cities? Being the nation’s capital, it has the highest rent prices and highest living expenses. JASSO has found the following data for the average monthly expenses (excluding academic fees) of an international student studying in different regions throughout Japan: 

  1. Tokyo – JPY 100,000
  2. Kanto – JPY 96,000
  3. Kinki – JPY 89,000
  4. Hokkaido – JPY 81,000
  5. Chubu – JPY 78,000
  6. Shikoku – JPY 77,000
  7. Chugoku – JPY 77,000
  8. Tohoku – JPY 74,000
  9. Kyushu – JPY 72,000

National Average: JPY 89,000

Conclusion

What is the living expense of Tokyo? Our research suggests that the average cost for an international student to live in Tokyo (minus academic fees) is roughly 100,000 JPY per month. This is not too expensive despite Tokyo’s fame as an advanced and developed city. With many scholarship opportunities such as the MEXT Scholarship that can further decrease your schooling costs, students should not be as deterred from studying in Japan as they may initially think! 

For more information about studying in Japan and in Tokyo, check out our following articles:

Universities in Tokyo: Get All the Information From This One Article!

The Ultimate 2021 Japan University Ranking for International Students

Study Abroad in Japan: All You Need To Know!