Thursday, March 10, 2011

Expatriate Spotlight on Tokyo

Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city with approximately twelve million residents. It's very crowded, yet can be strangely quiet. Tokyo's landscape is rich in variety, comprising low lands of only four meters above sea-level and mountains of over heights of 2000 meters.

Tokyo is the single most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live. Make sure you take this into account when considering a move. As at January 2011 Tokyo is 58% more expensive than New York (see table below). A salary of 14 million Japanese Yen is required in Tokyo in order to have a similar standard of living as New York on a salary of 100,000 US Dollars. This salary is calculated using the Salary Purchasing Power Parity (SPPP) calculator to compensate for the overall cost of living difference of 58%, the hardship difference of 10%, and the exchange rate.

Basket Group
Cost of Living in Japan, Tokyo

Alcohol & Tobacco

more expensive

more expensive


Furniture & Appliances
more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

Personal Care

Recreation & Culture
more expensive

Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels
more expensive

more expensive

Expat salary packages, housing allowances, cost of living allowances, and other benefits, vary depending where you are relocating from, but will be a particular key factor in determining what kind of apartment you can rent.

Japanese apartments tend to be very small and expensive, and expat furniture may be too big to fit into them. Rental companies charge a 4 to 6 month rental deposit, plus agency fees. Property management companies prefer to deal with agents and not prospective tenants. Apartments in expat areas range in price from $3000 to $20,000 per month in rent. The more money you spend, the larger the apartment you can get. There are significant tax deductions for housing costs. If you can get an apartment where they have English speaking staff on duty it is a real benefit since most people don’t speak English and they can help with directions, reservations, etc.

Think about banking before you go. Checks are not popular in Japan. It is best to have an ATM card and have your pay deposited directly into the bank.

What should you take with you and what should you leave at home?

Take with: a queen sized bed with a good mattress; bed sheets, bath towels, fluoride toothpaste; frying pans, kettles, cooking utensils that fit on your stovetop; laptop, home PC, ipod, Apple TV, DVD collection, your toaster, coffee maker; health records for you and your family and have all important documents with you rather than in storage.

Leave behind: king sized bed - unlikely to fit; laundry and kitchen detergents – Japanese products are inexpensive; large roasting pan, large muffin pans, it won’t fit into the oven, presuming you even get an oven; the pets, due to long quarantine periods and many apartments do not allows pets; rice cooker, large countertop appliances as you may not have countertop space.

Japan gets regular earthquakes, but is built to withstand most quakes. A massive quake hit Japan on 11 March just after we posted this on our blog. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone there. Japan has an amazing abaility to recover from such setbacks.

If you get the chance to live in Tokyo, you will not regret it. Tokyo is a mix of modern high-tech gadgets and old-fashioned manners, of serene gardens and massive office towers. It has superfast trains that run on time. It has shrines and stone lanterns and you can sense old Japan scattered among the skyscrapers, swanky shopping malls and sprawling mass transit hubs. for all your cost of living information


  1. It's nice to know the cost of living in Tokyo, Japan. I find it interesting to live there. There are lots of things that you can actually see in that place.

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  2. I love Tokyo. They have great sights and the salaries are high to compensate for the high cost of living.

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