Compare 5 Cheapest Places To Live In Japan

To enjoy a decent quality of life on a moderate amount of money is a tough question when moving to Japan. But it is totally possible! Expats can settle down where the cost of living far more reasonable than urban Tokyo, and still get a good job and live very well. Without further ado, let’s get into the list of 5 cheapest places to live in Japan (with the comparison) in this location guides:

1. Yokohama

💵 Cost of living for ex-pat: $2,262/ month

1bedroom studio rent in the center: $1.362/ month

Hotel: $75/ night

Dinner: $6.95

Coffee: $2.83

Surprise, a big city on the list of the cheapest places to live in Japan. It’s true.

Why you may want to live in Yokohama?

cheap places to live in japan

Yokohama city at night

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A livable version of Tokyo regarding living expenses: Yokohama is almost the largest city in Japan (only after Tokyo). This city’s modern shopping and entertainment options are truly rivalry to these of Tokyo.  However, the main reason people keep staying here is the fact you can easily afford Yokohama housing, which ranges from $750 to $1000.

Close to Tokyo: if you have your business in the capital, living in Yokohama is still no problem. From Yokohama Station to Tokyo train stations, you just need a 30 minutes ride, making Yokohama called a commuter town. Fun fact, this city is also near Hakone where take a hike in the Mount Fuji, have a view over Lake Ashinoko.

cheap places to live in japan

Family city

Family city: I don’t mean you must have a family to live here, but it would be a lovely choice if you do. The local government not only offers tremendous educational and childcare support but also built the best family facilities, high-quality elementary schools.

Why you may NOT want to live in Yokohama?

cheap places to live in japan


Well, I can not find many negative aspects of living in this beautiful city. According to Normadlist, there may be a lot of people smoking here and a hostile towards LGBTQ+.

Where to live in Yokohama?

is it cheaper to live in japan

Yokohama station

Many ex-pats choose to live close to the Yokohama Station in Yokohama, which is a futuristic and trendy outskirt. If you prefer some places with more historical and cultural traces, Yamate is worth considering. Don’t forget its rose gardens will bloom beautifully in May and November. The last area, The Minato Mirai 21, is the rising star of Yokohama real estate, thanks to its attraction to business, shopping, and tourism. You can admire skyscraper, and sea labor here.

2. Kyoto

💵 Cost of living for ex-pat:$1.930/ month

1bedroom studio rent in the center: $625/ month

Hotel: $65/ night

Dinner: $6.36

Coffee: $3.86

Kyoto is a top tourist destination that no traveler wants to miss and also considered as one of the cheapest places to live in Japan.

 is it expensive to live in japan


Why you may want to live in Kyoto?

Beautiful natural setting: It is a city surrounded by mountains, and there are three rivers going through it. In springs, you can admire cherry blossoms at the riverside and during fall, you will see all the mountains exploding with golden flushed color thanks to the foliage.

Japanese cultural capital: Kyoto’s history and culture have been really well preserved. People come here to stay in ryokan (traditional guest house), to see Shinto shrines, to visit the tea house in the Gion district, and to meet the geishas. However, Kyoto has not been home to the tradition; it is trying to expand its reputation for modern art. The mix of old and new set this unique city apart from any other cheapest places to live in Japan.

University city: Many of Kyoto citizens are college students (10%). Besides, the quality of the university here is highly praised by educators.

Why you may not want to live in Kyoto?

The tourists: Kyoto is one of the most unique cities in Japan and also a top tourist destination that no traveler wants to miss. If you stay in Kyoto, you have to cope with the crowded streets and noisy restaurants some times of the year.

The fun: While there are plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs, don’t expect the variety that you will find in areas of Tokyo or Osaka.

Where to live in Kyoto?

 is it expensive to live in japan

Kyoto real estate

So if you decided to be a long term visitor in Kyoto, I highly recommend you choose accommodation in the northern, for example, Kitayama or Demachiyanagi districts. These places are much more economical to live and still closely linked to the city through public transport. Besides, you may enjoy the mountainous scenery and the cuisine here.

“Kyoto has a small-town feel and a spectacular natural view”

3. Naha Okinawa

💵 Cost of living for ex-pat: $1.917/ month

1bedroom studio rent in the center: $713/ month

Hotel: $48/ night

Dinner: $7.34

Coffee: $3.78

is it cheaper to live in japan

Naha Okinawa

Why you may want to live in Naha Okinawa?

Longevity: Okinawa holds the record for the longest longevity of life in Japan. Therefore, you can have a guess that the climate is good and the lifestyles are healthy here.

Weather: Some people compare its weather to Florida but it was not as humid.

 what is the cheapest city in japan

Scuba diving in Naha Okinawa

Oceans, scuba diving, and other water sport: Okinawa subtropical beauty is displayed through long beaches and beautiful blue Pacific Ocean. Whether you have a scuba diving certification or not, you can dive into The Blue Cave at Cape Maeda safely with the help of a guide, since it is only seven meters deep. Besides, you can take a surf class, or spend an afternoon snorkeling!

Many Americans: Actually, you don’t know whether it is a good or bad thing for you. But, yep, there are many American people (including kids) living in and near the military bases in Okinawa. If you have kids, they will find it easier to make friends and adjust to the culture.

Why you may NOT want to live in Naha Okinawa?

Airconditioning: you may find old houses lacking “central” airconditioning. Please check in advance.

Transportation: The main city of Naha, where the airport is located, has a comprehensive public transit system, but once you leave the city, you’re on your own. Furthermore, the antique cabs and their drivers are a relic of days gone by. So, you would better have a car rented to save money and time.

Not much to do: Let’s exclude the beaches. Naha Okinawa doesn’t have many other things to offers. So you may miss the city lights, the shopping malls, and amusement parks.

Where to live in Naha Okinawa?

is it expensive to live in japan

Sunabe, Chatan, Mihama Area

The most popular area to American Military is Sunabe, Chatan, Mihama Area, which is situated nearby the Kadena AFB and Camp Foster. Even though it is close to beaches and shopping places, houses here tend to be smaller and higher priced. At least they are equipped with American features. Or you can stay in Yomitan Area, which is quieter with cheaper prices and a more authentic feel to living in Okinawa.

4. Fukuoka

💵 Cost of living for ex-pats: $1,692/ month

1bedroom studio rent in the center: $660/ month

Hotel: $125/ night

Dinner: $6.70

Coffee: $2.83

Let’s leave Honshu, the main island (home to Tokyo, Osaka…), we will visit the southwest island Kyushu. Here, Fukuoka is the biggest city.

 what is the cheapest city in japan

View of Fukuoka city

Why you may want to live in Fukuoka?

Bustling and peaceful at the same time: This city offers convenient public transportation and a variety of shopping malls, bars, karaoke, … On the other hand, there are numerous parks, such as the famous Ohori Park, shrines, riverfront, and beaches.

 what is the cheapest city in japan

Ohori Park

Food: Fukuoka is popular for its 150 yatais – street food stalls which provide an incredible nightlife experience. Fun fact, ramen is actually claimed to originate from this city.

Start-up city: In recent years, Fukuoka has seen a rapid trend of start-up and it really opens its door for foreign entrepreneurs (check out the start-up visa). Even if you don’t intend to build a company on your own, there are many other job opportunities like an English teacher, hospitality, …

Lower cost: Above all, the expense here is much more reasonable. To rent a fully furnished 45m2 studio in Tokyo typically costs you around ¥116,000 ($1000), but the price in Fukuoka is 40% cheaper. Utilities bills and groceries are only about 26% of these in Tokyo. By saving that much, you may live in a more spacious house and enjoy life better.

Why you may not want to live in Fukuoka?

Can’t speak Japanese: As far as I am concerned, most people in Fukuoka don’t speak English well. So if you are a non-japanese speaker, it may be hard for you to get used to live here or make friends.

Cold winter and humid summer: In summer, it is extremely hot and humid here. The effect is contradictory when it comes to winter.

Where to live in Fukuoka?

Fukuoka residential areas

The most common option is Hakata, the city center. Because it has a huge station which gonna take you anywhere else in the shortest time, and it is closest to all the amenities. If you want a more quiet and romantic atmosphere, stay near Ohori Park area. Nishijin is also a good choice for educational purposes and convenient transport.

5. Tsushima Island

💵 Cost of living for ex-pats: $1,281 / month

1bedroom studio rent in the center: $476 / month

Hotel: $48/ night

Dinner: $5.71

Coffee: $3.33

Watazumi Shrine in Tsushima Island

Why you may want to live in Tsushima Island?

The cheapest among the cheapest places to live in Japan: Look at the prices above, where can you find a better deal?

Nature and agriculture: 89% of Tsushima is natural preserve, percent with natural vegetation, and numerous mountains. Many of its inhabitants still practice various agricultural techniques passed down through generations ensuring a lasting relationship with the environment. The perfect place to visit if you value local, eco-friendly, outdoor-oriented living. Between its vast number of beaches to lounge on and mountains to climb.

Tsushima Island festivals

Iconic culture sights and festival: Tsushima is also home to many fantastic historical and cultural treasure sights. To name a few, they are Izuhara Port Festival, Banshoin Temple Lantern Lighting Festival, Watazumi Shrine Traditional Festival …

Why you may NOT want to live in Tsushima Island?

Tsushima Island

Jobs: This is a big problem since local in Tsushima usually do farming, fishing, or trading to earn their livings. Even in the city, there are not many job opportunities, especially for foreigners.

Entertainment: if you live in the big city all your life, you will definitely have a hard time getting used to this place. It is like 100% opposite from the fast and fun pace of Tokyo life.


+ What is the cheapest city in Japan?

Fukuoka. It costs an ex-pat only approximately $1,692/ month to survive (in Tokyo it is $2,514/ month). If you move to this city with a family, then the cost is around $3,413/ month (in Tokyo it is $5,953 / month). Overall, Fukuoka is a perfect combination of rich history, culture, and modern life (with surprising cheap thrills).

+ Is living in Japan cheap?

I know rumor has it that living in Japanese is costly. Reality check: Japan is more expensive than other Asian countries, but it is not that expensive compared to Western Europe or American. It is even cheaper, especially if you live further from Tokyo. And it depends on your spending habits too. Some foreign students only spend less than 150,000Yen/month ($1428/ month).

+ How much does it cost to live in Japan USD?

The cost of living for a single working person in Tokyo is between ¥178,463 (1,701USD) and ¥337,296 (3,213USD) a month, including rent, food, discretionary spending, transportation, and taxes and insurance. Now cut the number off by 10%, you get the average figure for other places. This is the estimation of the government. In the 5 cheapest places to live in Japan we mentioned above, you can find a better deal.

+ How much is the average rent in Japan?

The national average rental price for a studio apartment with one bedroom ranges from ¥50,000 ($470) to ¥70,000 ($660). However, the price will be not less than ¥100,000 ($950) when it comes to the center of Tokyo or other desirable areas.

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.