Your Life in Japan - Budgeting and Whatnot

Last Update: September 2018

Coming to Japan, the first thing I wanted to do was to be able to connect to the internet when I wasn't at home or in the office. It just helps a lot with commuting and keeping in touch with friends and family. But sadly, getting a mobile phone subscription for a foreigner can be quite difficult and it was difficult to research or even make my way around...

The first month I was here, I had bought a secondhanded iPod from Akihabara for about 20,000 yen. That is already almost all the money I had brought from my country. XD But at that point, nothing was more important to me than being connected. A few months later, I don’t even use it and it’s somewhere stored in the depths of my closet… That was not money well spent!

So, in this post, I will talk about the basic expenses if you were to live independently in Japan. It might help you put your money where it's supposed to go. It is not cheap to live here.

Please note that the rates I will be talking about are in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa. It’s bound to be more expensive if you choose to stay in big cities like Tokyo or Yokohama and cheaper if you live somewhere more rural. 😊

Me at the Shibuya Crossing!
1.      Apartment
A forewarning: It is so difficult for a foreigner to rent an apartment without a guarantor. Many flats will also turn you down because you are a foreigner even if you do have a guarantor… So, you are lucky if your company will provide you with lodging!

If that is not the case, I recommend share houses for your first few weeks. The lowest I’ve found is around 30,000 a month. Usually though, share-houses would cost 40,000 yen upwards. There would sometimes be share-houses that would offer the first month free. So, if you stay a couple of months, that means you only pay half!

The good thing about share houses is that the utilities are usually included in the rent. Bills for internet, water, gas, and electricity wouldn't be a problem.

If you choose to live in an apartment, it can be a bit more expensive.

In my area the cheapest I found was 18,000-20,000 yen for a studio type room. But then the fees and bills come in and it wouldn’t really be so cheap in the end…
(Do not ask me where to get an apartment, do your own research).

2.      Utilities
Just rough estimates here.
Internet – 3,500
Water – 4,000
Gas – 6,000
Electricity – 6,000

How much is that already? But then eventually you would want a mobile phone. 

3.      Mobile Phone
If you’re getting a smartphone this will cost you 6000 yen a month or more.

I'm using an iPhone 8 Plus currently, with 20GB of data allowance monthly. My bill for my smartphone is 13,500 (including the monthly fee to pay for the phone itself).

Unfortunately, a new line is not easy to get!

The contracts are in Japanese, and you can not sign a contract without understanding what it says. Companies will also be reluctant simply because you are a foreigner that could disappear before the contract is over (contracts are usually for 2 years).

Welcome to being a foreigner in Japan.

Quick tip: Many AU shops have Filipino-speaking staff. How about you start there?

4.      Food
Are you good at saving? I hope you are! Eating out on what people consider fastfood here would easily cost you 350 yen, probably more. We’re talking Yoshinoya here. Wanna eat sushi? One plate is 108 yen. It would take me around 5 plates to be full… So that’s 540 yen!

Convenience store food is also very expensive. A yummy spaghetti from 7/11 would set you back a around 500 yen.

One piece of bread is easily 108 yen as well. One piece of carrot is about the same price.

If you’re doing groceries, 5kg of rice is about 1,300 yen. 

Are you converting that to pesos, guys?!

Quick tip: Go curry! Many JP grocery stores will offer a curry set for 300 yen-ish (onion, potatoes, a carrot and garlic). The curry rue will be about 200 yen. So that’s 500 yen, but it will last you a good three days. 😝

5.      Clothes
Change of season equals change of clothes. A plain t-shirt would cost you 1,000 yen easily. Anything non-basic and you're looking more at 3,000 yen or much more... Secondhand shops are your friend.

In the photo above, my bag and top are second-handed from Book Off! They have many branches in Japan. :)

Well I think this should get you started. You know what to expect, so plan your budget accordingly. OH! Also, you will not be paid until the next month or two. Some companies wait a full month to credit the last month’s salary. So yeah, welcome to Japan!!!


  1. oh wooww thank you so much !!! i love your blog ! cuz I wanna live in japan later like in 2 years and I wanna know how much everything costs about :)) thank you !


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