Cost of Living in Tokyo

I finally got down to writing this when I’m about to leave in less than a month’s time.

Accommodation
I lived in Musashino city for around 15 months before moving to Edogawa-ku. First, the Musashino city apartment was around 20 minutes walk from the station although there’s a bus to the station 3 minutes’ walk away. My place was around 24.4sqm with a room of a little under 7 tatami-mat size. No furniture included. The bath and toilet are separate, and there’s another wash basin area separate from the bath, plus a relatively spacious kitchen. Being outside the 23 wards, it is supposed to be cheaper than many places, but at the same time, it is very near to Kichijoji, the unwavering number 1 location Tokyoites want to live in. Where I lived was pretty far out the big city and a little countryside-ish. However, as it was a relatively new place when I moved in (only 7 years since completion of construction then), it was also slightly more expensive than other places (but still on the cheaper end for Tokyo). The rent was ¥68,000 yen/month including 共益費 (managing fees (?)), and utilities would come up to around ¥4,000 to ¥7,000/mth depending on your usage. It’s usually higher in the winter when you use the air-conditioner to warm up your room + the heater to get the warm water running. But again, there are people who use the cooler for the room and heater for the bath during summer as well. I even know people who pay over ¥10,000 for utilities alone.

My place in Edogawa-ku was slightly cheaper at ¥61,000 and it comes with an indoor swimming pool. The pool can only be used in the summer for obvious reasons although it’s indoors. I live on the 5th floor where I can see the Skytree in full view from my corridor and possibly see the fireworks display in Shinozaki from my room. Utilities in general don’t differ too greatly, and Edogawa-ku being further from the city area and nearer to Chiba, is slightly cheaper than other areas. Of course there are apartments that cost less than ¥40,000 as well, depending on what you want. I also have friends living close to the Roppongi area paying ¥180,000 per month. But of course her room is much bigger and nicer.

Food
It depends on what kind of food you want to have. I consider myself to be leading the less lavish kind of lifestyle, so my meals are typically under ¥1,000 but that would still come up to a little over ¥2,000 per day. An entire month would make it around ¥60,000. But if you rather scrimp and save, there are places like Sukiya, Matsuya, Yoshinoya, Nakau, etc. that serve rice bowls and set meals at between ¥200 to ¥800, so it’s not impossible to just spend ¥1,000 a day on meals.

Internet
Since moving to Tokyo, I’ve been using fibre-optic connection. While in Musashino, the apartment I was in only had a total of 8 units, so logically, Internet subscription fees are more expensive since the company makes less profit laying the cable to the building. While in Musashino, I paid around ¥5,000 per month for the connection. At my current place in Edogawa-ku, there are around 30 units, so my Internet bill has gone down to under ¥3,000/mth. It’s possible for the set-up to be done on weekends here.

Mobile phone
I got my smartphone, a green Aquos 103sh, and opted to pay the cost of the phone itself by 24-month installment (the duration of the contract for the line). The phone I am using has every possible function that a phone doesn’t need, so it is more expensive. Yes, I can take the train and pay for things at conveniences stores, vending machines, etc. with my phone. It costs around ¥70,000 and including the line which costs around ¥6,000, I am paying around ¥9,000 every month. Apple fans would be happy to know the line for the iPhone is cheaper than the one for Android phones. iPhone subscription rates are at around ¥4,500 a month.

While there are no free outgoing calls, Softbank to Softbank calls are free from 1am to 9pm everyday; Au users can choose unlimited calls to up to three other Au numbers; no clue about Docomo. Internet usage is unlimited at the above prices. All incoming calls are free. SMSes across carriers come at a charge but are free if sent to users of the same line, which is why everyone uses a phone email. The phone email is pretty much the same as an SMS, except that you enter an email address instead of a phone number, and you can type as much as you want. No additional costs nor setup required. Except that if you don’t set it up, your email address would look something like fe8io43rh903@softbank.ne.jp.

Transport
Transportation is in general covered by the company that hires you. While it is uncommon for Japanese firms to have sick leave benefits, it is a common practice to have your transportation covered. I spend around ¥14,000 a month on transport but the company covers the commuter’s pass to work, so if even during weekends I travel along the same line as the one I take to work, I practically don’t have to pay for transportation. But note that in Japan, the commuter’s pass is only applicable to any destination within the two points you bought. You can alight at any stop between, but if you exceed those stops, you would have to pay any additional. For example, the train station goes like this:

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J

If you have a pass that goes from B to G, you don’t have to pay even if you board and alight at C, D, E, or F. But say, if you board at A and alight at I, then you’ll have to pay the additional charges from A to B and G to I.

Commuter pass aside, it is generally true that JR lines are cheaper than private railway but, many private railways here are still cheaper than Nagoya’s Meitetsu.

Overall
For reasons I don’t know, I seem to be spending around ¥150,000 a month since I moved to Tokyo. Everytime it seems like I could save ¥100,000 that month, I’m almost always down to zero at the end of the month. I have no clue where those money went to. It might’ve been the moving and settling down costs, and a little travelling. It doesn’t seem so bad until I start calculating and realise I’ve spent $10,000 on moving alone this past 3 years. I do manage to save some amount every month, but without the moving, I could’ve saved another $10,000. Ah well, moving to a new place is fun in its right.

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