Among people looking to move to Japan one of the key considerations has to be the financial side of things.
How much will your salary be?
What is the cost of living?
And how to best manage the delicate balance of these two things?
It is common for salaries in Japan to be lower than that of equivalent roles in other countries, however, cost of living is often lower too.
As with any country, living in a major city can often be expensive. In Japan, living in the countryside can often provide much more value for your money and allow you to save more.
Here we will look at some of the key expenses that can change depending on whether you choose to live in the city or countryside.
One of the key costs to consider is rent, as this is the largest monthly expense for most people. There is a lot of variation in rent prices and square metreage in the Japanese market, largely dependent on the area.
The national average 1-bedroom rent prices are around ¥50,000 – ¥80,000. The proximity to city centre, size of the city and other building specifics can have an impact but most 1 bedroom apartments fall around this price range.
However, in Tokyo rent prices often start from around ¥100,000. Many rural areas cost less than half of this in rent prices.
¥30,00 – ¥40,000 are common monthly rent prices for countryside areas, and are often larger and more spacious places than the population-dense cities.
Another important factor is food and the associated prices. Food prices are fairly standard throughout Japan, with costs being fairly low.
It is common to have a food budget of around ¥30,000 – ¥40,000 monthly for 1-2 people.
This can of course be increased for those who eat out regularly or reduced if necessary. One of the categories that stand out among Japanese food prices is fruit and vegetables.
These are often expensive, even at the basic supermarket level. However, living in a rural area increases the likelihood of independent fruit stalls and sellers being available and easy to reach.
It is common for fruit and vegetable stalls to have much better prices for fruit and vegetables than the ones sold through shops.
Other cuisines, like pizza, are also expensive as they import the raw materials used to make them.
Some other aspects of living expenses are also cheaper when living in countryside Japan, such as entertainment. An area without a huge array of nightlife spots rarely has the high pricing and luxury options of the cities. Restaurants are often family-owned and kept at low prices.
Regular bills, such as utilities will vary greatly depending on the area and the climate. City tax or residence tax, may be lower due to living in a less popular area. Overall, there are a lot of benefits to living in the countryside in Japan.
Disadvantages of countryside living
However, it’s also important to consider some of the potential negatives. First, transportation costs will go up, possibly by a lot. In a rural area, everything is more spread out so you will be paying more to go to regular places like the supermarket, work, restaurants, etc.
Depending on the area you may need a car to get around, which adds additional expenses to your monthly budget. When living in most cities in Japan, big or small, a car isn’t necessary.
Outside of the cities, relying on public transport alone isn’t viable for day-to-day life. You may find entertainment costs actually go up, as its common for people from countryside towns to come to cities on day trips during their free time.
These results in paying for the travel, activities in the city (shopping, movies, museums etc), food and any other miscellaneous items, whereas for those living in the city, the travel and food expenses can be skipped.
Living in Japan is in no way a one-size-fits-all lifestyle. There are advantages and disadvantages to both city and country living and ways to improve or change your situation in either.
For some, the convenience of city living, accessibility of public transport and healthcare providers, more likelihood of finding service with English available, and general increased opportunities makes increased cost of living and smaller houses worth it.
For others, the better cost of living, fresh produce, larger houses, proximity to nature, and traditional small-town atmosphere is much more attractive.
Rural Japan is a place of great beauty, with tranquil scenery and postcard-perfect views. It is also home to many of the country’s large population.
While the fast-paced bustling cities of Tokyo and Osaka are more well-known, the small towns and rural areas are a great option when deciding where to live in Japan.
With lower living expenses and increased house sizes, countryside living can seem like an easy answer. It is important to consider your lifestyle, all your costs and how they would translate to country living to best decide whether it is the right choice for you.