How much does it cost to live in Tokyo?

Tokyo is well-known as one of the world’s most expensive cities.  In this year’s Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA) survey, Tokyo was named the world’s most expensive city for expats.  The Japanese capital is consistently ranked as the world’s most expensive city or among the most expensive in cost of living rankings such as Mercer’s 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.

Exactly how much do things cost in Tokyo?  Here are a few prices to give you some idea of what items and services cost in central Tokyo.  (Prices may differ in other areas of Japan or even Tokyo.)

  • One room apartment:  100,000-200,000 yen/month
  • Cell phone bill: 7000~ yen/month
  • McDonald’s Big Mac:  340 yen
  • Starbucks Tall Latte:  370 yen
  • Pair of movie tickets:  3600 yen
  • Taxi  (minimum fare):  710 yen
  • Pack of cigarettes:  300 yen
  • Domino’s large pepperoni pizza:  2180 yen
  • Can of beer:  250 yen
  • Subway ticket (within Tokyo):  160-300 yen
  • Round trip bullet train ticket (Tokyo-Kyoto):  26,640 yen
  • Fashion magazine:  650 yen
  • Some others

As in any country, prices differ depending on where you live, even within the city of Tokyo.  Likewise, Japanese people’s attitudes toward money and cost of goods can also differ depending on the region.  Apparently people in Osaka will point out and brag about how cheap an item is, whereas those in Tokyo might focus on how expensive an item is.  Also, older generations often seek out higher priced brands or goods either for status or belief that they are better quality, while today’s younger generations are starting to seek out lower priced brands that allow them to express individuality and save money.

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