Tokyo, Japan is rated as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. It is a city that moves at a well oiled pace, with the energy of New York City and an obsession with newness, it silently throws out unexpected glimpses of its traditional side which are not immediately apparent. Somehow the intertwining of the time-honored old and the techno sparkling new just works.
It is not surprising that the world's most expensive land can be found in Central Tokyo with the result that the smallest apartment in Tokyo will cost you a small fortune. However, if you choose to live outside of the city, the surrounding suburbs are very affordable and even with the commuting costs it is a much cheaper option. If you want to live in the city, Gaiijin housing (Guest housing) is a much cheaper option for foreigners.
Utilities such as gas, water and especially electricity are extremely costly while phone rates are so high it is better to take the option of internet phones or callbacks.
Food itself is not expensive at the local supermarkets, if you choose to eat Japanese food such as seasonal vegetables, rice, soya products and seafood. However if you want to eat food from your own country your bill will go up immensely, as these are imported at a high cost. As a tip, visit the supermarkets just before closing time and you will be able to purchase perishable products at great discounts.
There are countless down the road restaurants where the food is plentiful and fairly cheap, but if you are looking for something more upmarket you will pay a small fortune. Supermarket clothing stores are very cheap, while larger sizes for those that are 180cm or taller may be mission impossible. Department stores and boutiques are much more expensive.
Trains are the main form of transportation, especially when living outside of the city center, passes for unlimited travel are easy to purchase. Owning a car is extremely expensive this is mainly due to the mandatory bi-annual inspections, mandatory insurance, an automobile tax and the fee for a parking space. To purchase a car is in comparison inexpensive.
On the up side, electronic goods, such as TVs, stereo sets, cameras and computers are relatively inexpensive.
It is important to know what your cost of living is going to be when moving from your base city to a new location. Will you be able to afford the same standard of living you are experiencing at the moment, will life get better or worse. Consider checking out the cost of living for your new location here.
If you are moving to or considering moving to Tokyo, becoming an expat may be an adventure or a curse. I have gathered a few expat blogs together that may be interesting reads and helpful:
Benoa's Blog : A Pictorial of Japan and Asia
I am a very visual person and love this blog filled with some thrilling photos and videos, each telling a story of its own about life in Japan.
Rurousha : Nomad or Wanderer. A wandering South African who has found a home in Japan, and thinks it is the best place to be. A versatile blog for interesting places, advice and reviews on just about everything.
Origami Living : Another expat Mom in another expat city helping out with her adventurous stories
Tokyo Play : An Australian in Toyko who is passionate about discovering new places and tasting amazing food. You will love the in-depth reviews and colorful photos of the amazing restaurants you can visit.
Tune in Tokyo : 1999 saw a guy from Florida move to Japan and never leave. The content is related to tattoos, photography, mixed martial arts and food.
To ward off boredom : This one is for you if you are young and want to know what is happening.
Consider chatting to bloggers, it is always helpful to gather as much information as you can before you move anywhere.
Relocation companies are an excellent way to get to know the city, the best schools, shopping centers, clubs, restaurants, where to go and what to do!
For all your cost of living information go to Xpatulator.com