Top 10 Cheapest Cities to Live in Japan

Cheap & Japan!!

Sounds impossible…

Well, that’s what almost everyone believes, because this country is known for having one of the highest average prices of living in the world.

While some cities are pretty expensive, you can still find some affordable places to live in Japan.

The rich culture, stable economy, advanced technology, fast internet, and communication systems made this country a perfect choice for living.

If you don’t want to expend a huge fortune, you need to find out the cheapest cities to live in Japan before moving here.

Today, I will introduce you to such places where you can stay comfortably by spending relatively less.

Let’s move forward to know every detail about them.

Top 10 Cheap Cities to Live in Japan: Find Your New Home

As Japan is one of the most developed countries, many foreigners come here searching for a job.

Some of them settle down here permanently, while few stay for a specific time.

Those who don’t want to sacrifice their savings always look for the cheapest way to live in Japan.

Though finding the best solution is not easy, I will share all the essential information that can help you decide where to move.

For each city, I will provide estimated living costs as well as approximate apartment rent.

But, remember that these expenses can vary according to the location of the flat and current demand.

Okay, my first pick is Yokohama, which is the second-largest city in Japan by population.

1. Yokohama: Ensures Advanced Facilities

Yokohama is widely known as a port city. Many famous company’s headquarters are located here, such as Nissan, Sotetsu, JVCKenwood, Bank of Yokohama, etc.

As this city is one of the largest towns, some outsiders think that living here is expensive.

Yokohama Skyline

But, the truth is, it’s fairly affordable.

A one-bedroom studio apartment in the central city won’t cost you more than $ 1300 per month.

However, you can find flats for a lower price if you stay a little inward.

All the other things like groceries, utilities, and entertainment prices are similarly affordable.

Yokohama bay bridge

Suppose your workplace is in Tokyo and you don’t want to live there because of the high living cost.

In such a case, you can consider living in Yokohama as it’s not far away from the capital. It takes only 30-minutes to commute into Tokyo from here.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $650 to $1,000.
Three-bedroom rent: $1,348 to $2,685.
Hotel: $60 to $200/night.
Per meal for one person: $6 to $10. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,900/Month.

In Yokohama, a large chinatown is located, where you will find lots of Chinese restaurants and shops.

You can go to Sankei-en garden, Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, Yokohama Landmark Tower for entertainment purposes.

Yokohama Cherry Blossom Sakura

Another fun fact is that this city is near Hakone, where you will be able to hike Mount Fuji to see a panoramic view over Lake Ashinoko.

So, you may guess why many foreigners choose to live here. It’s because this town has every facility while being one of the cheapest places in Japan.

Pros

  • Closer to the capital city Tokyo.
  • Loads of modern shopping centers and entertainment spots.
  • High-end communication system.
  • Great family facilities with high-quality elementary school and childcare support.

Cons

  • Late at night, the west exit of Yokohama station can be a little dangerous to roam alone.
  • You may see a lot of people smoking here.

2. Chiba: Japan’s eastern Pacific coast

You may know that Japan is a country with several islands, and that’s why it has many port cities.

Tateyama - Chiba

One of them is Chiba, which will make you fall in love with its beautiful beaches, boat, and scenery.

This city is 30 miles away from Tokyo and packed with attractions like Hoki Museum, Chiba Debra, Makuhari Messe, and the SSAWS ski resort.

Chiba is the home of Japan’s main international airport, Narita International Airport.

Chiba Japan landscape

Despite being surrounded by rivers and sea lines, this prefecture has a great communication system with other large cities by high-speed trains.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $505 to $670.
Three-bedroom rent: $818 to $950.
Hotel: $54 to $200/night.
Per meal for one person: $7 to $11. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,680/Month.

The Funabashi area in Chiba is highly recommended for cheap dine-in.

In local areas, you will find wide sidewalks to enjoy a bike ride.

On the other hand, Kashiwa has many shopping malls where you can buy your daily necessities.

Bikeway Chiba

Makuhari New City is the home to many foreign-affiliated and foreign companies.

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Makuhari Messe, a Japanese convention center situated in the Mihama-ku ward of Chiba city, provides facilities like work, housing, recreation, and study.

So, Chiba can be your perfect choice for being one of the cheapest cities in Japan to live in.

Pros

  • It only takes 32 minutes to drive from Chiba to Tokyo.
  • Convenient commute to other regions of Japan.
  • Charming neighborly atmosphere.
  • The main international airport in Japan is situated here.

Cons

  • Groceries in the supermarket are relatively expensive.

3. Osaka: Known for Friendly Atmosphere

Osaka is well-known for its vibrant culture and futuristic environment.

The cost of utilities, groceries, and housing is low enough not to make you concerned about your bank balance.

Osaka Skyline

Also, public transportation is decent and affordable, and you can easily move from one part of the town to another.

On top of that, the people of Osaka are very friendly toward foreigners, and you will feel like you are in your own home country.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $507 to $835.
Three-bedroom rent: $1,030 to $2,148.
Hotel: $34 to $154/night.
Per meal for one person: $10.53. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,650/Month.

This city has famous electronics companies like Panasonic and Sharp, where many expats work.

Another mentionable thing about this town is that it offers a high level of community service, including international medical facilities and an excellent environment for children’s education.

Autumn from Osaka

Although most parts of this city are usually crowded, you can still find calm places to live.

And Mino city is such a location where nature is fresh and has a tranquil residential area. This region is only 30 minutes away from Umeda and one hour from Kobe city.

Hence, commuting from here is highly accessible.

Osaka Castle View

Among all the towns, most foreign expats choose to live in Chuo-ku and Kita-Ku, which are the center areas of Osaka.

These areas represent Osaka’s lively atmosphere, offering several shopping centers and tourist spots.

Pros

  • The locals of this city are the most friendly towards foreigners in Japan.
  • Excellent community service with advanced health facilities.
  • Job opportunities in sales, marketing, teaching, and tech.

Cons

  • Hot weather in summer.
  • The crime rate in Osaka is a bit higher than in some of the other regions in Japan.

4. Kyoto: City of Festive & Culture

Kyoto is not only the cheapest city to live in Japan, but it also offers many tourist attractions.

Festivals like Higashiyama Hanatoro, Gojo-zaka Pottery, Jidai Matsuri, Kurama Fire festival are celebrated here.

Kyoto in Japan

It’s also packed with religious places, shrines, temples, such as Kinkaku-ji, Shimogamo Shrine, Kamigamo Shrine, Tō-ji, and Daigo-ji.

Despite its cultural and historical importance, Kyoto doesn’t charge residents a large expense.

You will find houses with affordable rent. The groceries can be a little pricier than some of the other parts of the country, yet the overall cost of living is low.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $548 to $786.
Three-bedroom rent: $945 to $1476.
Hotel: $32 to $167/night.
Per meal for one person: around $6.5. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,650/Month.

Kyoto will suit you if you want to stay in a less hectic place. Around 1.5 million residents live here, so it’s relatively less crowded than other towns.

Ine Cho in Kyoto

This city is surrounded by mountains, and the natural view is also breathtaking.

You can do many things here, like admiring the cherry blossom and enjoying the Kitano Odori Geisha Dance.

But, remember that the true beauty of cherry blossoms will be found during March.

The citizens of this area are mostly young college or university-going students (10%), as the quality of education here is highly praised by educators.

Kyoto

So, if you are trying to find a cheap living place in Japan with a top-class education system, you can consider moving to Kyoto.

Pros

  • Thousands of medium and small companies.
  • Lots of tourism related jobs.
  • Many colleges and universities, including The Kyoto university, are located in this city.
  • Easy travel options like train, taxi, and subway.

Cons

  • Crowded streets and noisy restaurants because it is one of the top tourist destinations in Japan.
  • Doesn’t have plenty of clubs like in Tokyo and Osaka.

5. Naha Okinawa: Healthy Climate

The climate of Okinawa is fresh, and the people here have a healthy lifestyle.

That’s why this city holds the record for the highest lifespan in Japan.

So, with affordable living expenses, you are getting a healthy environment free!!

Naha Okinawa Cityscape

It sounds like a good deal!! Right?

The most exciting part is, you can enjoy scuba diving and other water sports in this town.

Though the weather becomes hot and humid in summer, you can soothe your body in the cool water of the ocean.

Even if you don’t have a scuba diving certificate, you can still dive into The Blue Cave at Cape Maeda with the help of a guide.

Okinawa Monorail in Naha

Don’t be afraid because it is only 7 meters deep. Once you dive inside the cave, you will feel like entering into a blue wonderland under the sea!!

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $713 to $1,200.
Three-bedroom rent: $1,841 to $2,000.
Hotel: $32 to $119/night.
Per meal for one person: approximately $7.89. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,850/Month.

Many Americans live here with their kids near the military bases in Okinawa.

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Therefore, if you are planning to come to Japan with your children, they will easily find friends and adjust to this city’s culture.

However, Naha is a tiny city as well as a remote area.

The main city where the airport is situated has a wide public transit system, but you will be on your own when you exit from the city.

Botanical Garden Naha

It would be better if you owned a car to save time and money.

Unlike the big cities, Naha doesn’t have many shopping centers or amusement parks.

I suggest you choose this place if you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Pros

  • It has one of the least crime rates in Japan.
  • Many expats, mostly Americans, live here.
  • Mild winter.
  • Tourism dominates the economy.

Cons

  • Lack of public transit outside the city center.
  • Hot summer.
  • Fewer shopping and entertainment places than in Tokyo.

6. Fukuoka: Unique Food & Entertaining Nightlife

The cost of food, utilities, entertainment, and other essentials is around 25% less than in Tokyo.

Even the apartment here has one of the cheapest rents in Japan. You can find attractive city center flats for less than $700.

City Skyline View in Tenjin, Fukuoka Japan

While Naha has less public transport system, Fukuoka offers convenient transit, various shopping malls, karaoke, parks, riverfront, and beaches.

One of my favorite spots is Uminonakamichi Seaside Park.

Several events are held here in each season, like Flower Picnic (spring), Cosmos Festival (autumn), Rose Festival (early summer and autumn).

You can spend a romantic evening in this park with your beloved one.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $400 to $660.
Three-bedroom rent: $8,00 to $1,200.
Hotel: $38 to $124/night.
Per meal for one person: $7. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,690/Month.

Fukuoka is also popular for its delicious food.

You will find lots of street food stalls, which provide a fantastic nightlife experience.

The most well-known food of Fukuoka is Hakata Ramen.

In recent years, the rapid growth of start-ups has been seen in Fukuoka and has opened its door for foreign entrepreneurs.

Colorful flower field in Fukuoka

So, if you are eager to build your own company, you have a vast opportunity in this city.

Besides, there are other job options like an English teacher, IT engineer, medical care, and restaurant.

One real concern is, most people in Fukuoka can’t speak English. Hence, it will be hard for you to communicate with them if you have limited Japanese language skills.

But, it would be beneficial for you in the long run as you can expand your language ability by trying to talk with them.

Inside Fukuoka, most people live in Hakata, the city center.

Bronze buddha statue in Fukuoka

Living here is convenient as it has a major railway station, which will take you anywhere in the shortest time. Also, it is closer to all the amenities.

And, if you want a more quiet place, you can stay near the Ohori park area.

Besides, Nishijin is also a great choice for convenient transport and educational purposes.

Pros

  • Convenient public transport and plenty of shopping malls.
  • Numerous parks for a family day out.
  • Largest start-up city in Japan with many business opportunities.
  • Utility bills and groceries are 26% less than in the capital city.

Cons

  • Most of the local people don’t understand English.
  • Summer is extremely hot, and the winter is cold.

7. Kamakura: A Historical Town in Kanagawa Prefecture

A less than one hour’s drive from Tokyo will take you to the coastal city of Kamakura.

There are so many good reasons why many expats choose to live here.

Kamakura view

This city has a perfect environment with more green views and less crowd.

It’s a small seaside town with various historical monuments, tourist attractions like Shichirigahama Beach, Hokokuji Temple, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Hence, you can guess why locals, as well as foreigners, admire this place.

maple in Kamakura

Moreover, housing prices are quite low, while utilities, foodstuffs, and other expenses are within reach.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $438 to $613.
Three-bedroom rent: $1,052 to $1,315.
Hotel: $34 to $177/night.
Per meal for one person: around $7. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,300/Month.

Like the big cities, the trains can be packed with locals and tourists during weekends and rush hours of the year.

Here, the summers are short, warm, and mostly cloudy.

Meanwhile, the winters are windy, cold, and mostly clear.

Kamakura Seaside View

Once, Kamakura was Japan’s political center, but now it is mainly known for its stunning location and attractiveness.

If you settle closer to the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Zaimokuza beach, you will be able to enjoy more fresh air and a beautiful coastal scene.

Pros

  • Less than 45 minutes of ride from Tokyo leads to Kamakura.
  • The building of this city has the touch of both Japanese and modern architecture.
  • Chance of employment in sales, service, trainer, consultant, etc.
  • Long beaches with hiking trails.
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Cons

  • Compared to other big cities, job facilities are lower.
  • Even in the driest month, there is a lot of rain in Kamakura.

8. Sapporo: The Snow Paradise

Sapporo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Hokkaido island.

Because of this town’s office environment, thousands of foreign and domestic residents are attracted to this place.

Sapporo cityscape

This city is situated in the northern part of Japan, and one of the coldest regions of this country.

Hence, if you prefer cool weather, you can pick this city for living.

Temperature goes under 0 degrees Celsius during the winter season.

Snow scene Sapporo

This chilly atmosphere of Sapporo has an advantage as around two million tourists come here to attend the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

Also, it offers many winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $328 to $700.
Three-bedroom rent: $567 to $768.
Hotel: $31 to $83/night.
Per meal for one person: approximately $8.77. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,500/Month.

Sapporo has one of the lowest costs of living in Japan per month. With a little over $700, you will be able to find an apartment in the center of the city.

And the total cost of living won’t cross $1500.

But, as you know, it depends on how often you spend money and what kind of lifestyle you have.

Sapporo City View

The best neighborhood in Sapporo is believed to be on the west side near the mountains.

The Fushimi and Maruyama area has museums, tea shops, and most importantly, beautiful apartments that will fit your budget.

It will be best to choose a car for your transportation, as this region is far away from any stations.

You can also head to Chuo-ku for nice accommodation and convenience. This area is quite large, and you can balance between entertainment and peace.

Pros

  • Low-rent flat in the center of the city.
  • Offers a variety of winter outdoor activities.
  • The economy thrives on IT, retail, and tourism.

Cons

  • This city has one of the largest traffic lights; hence a 5-minute drive can last for 20 minutes.
  • During winter, the temperature drops to minus degrees.

9. Kawasaki: One of The Biggest Industrial Area in Japan

If you want to get the taste of living in Tokyo while being considerate towards your income, Kawasaki will be a great place for you to settle.

As this city is futuristic and a business center, you won’t have to work hard to look for a job.

Kawasaki Japan Skyline

The rental price in Kawasaki is 50% less than in Tokyo, which means you can find better accommodation at the same price here.

Aside from affordability, this city has a lot of other things to offer, including a lovely riverside, a strong job market, and beautiful museums.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $613 to $920.
Three-bedroom rent: $993 to $1,520.
Hotel: $37 to $177/night.
Per meal for one person: around $7.02. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,600/Month.

In Kawasaki, Shin-Yurigaoka is a decent place to live.

Also, many expats live in Mizonokuchi and Miyazakidai, as these areas have easy access to the center of Kawasaki.

Industry Station in Kawasaki

The economy of this city thrives with industries like Fuji electric, JFE Steel, Mitsubishi Chemical, Tokyo Electric Power, etc.

So, it’s heaven for engineers, technicians, marketing, and manufacturing workers.

Pros

  • Rental costs are around 50% less than in Tokyo.
  • Has a low crime rate.
  • Many research and development industries.

Cons

  • The city has relatively more air pollution.
  • The area around Kawasaki station is highly crowded.

10. Tsushima Island: Has The Lowest Living Cost

Over 80% of Tsushima Island is packed with mountains, clean beaches, tropical vegetation, and natural charm.

Many local people here still practice various agricultural techniques that the older generation has pass-through to ensure an excellent environment.

coast Tsushima Waterfall

You will enjoy living here if you value the local tradition, eco-friendly nature, and outdoor activities.

And, the living cost is unbelievably low, even the least compared to my other mentioned cities.

Basic Expenses
One-bedroom rent: $400 to $800.
Hotel: $31 to $159/night.
Per meal for one person: around $5.70. (inexpensive restaurant).
Estimated living cost with rent (1 person): $1,280/Month.

It is also home to many cultural and historical celebrations.

Some examples are Izuhara Port Festival, Watazumi Shrine Traditional Festival, and Banshoin Temple Lantern Lighting Festival.

One big problem of living here is the lack of professions.

tsushima Wisteria

Since the locals in Tsushima generally do fishing, farming, or trading to earn, there are not many job opportunities, especially for expats.

Another notable thing is if you have been living in big cities for all of your life, it will be hard to adjust to this place.

It has the typical countryside environment, opposite of the fast and fun pace of living in Tokyo.

Pros

  • Minimum monthly cost of living.
  • You can enjoy the traditional Japanese lifestyle.
  • Home to many cultural and historical sights.

Cons

  • This town has the lowest job scope for foreigners on my list.

Conclusion

Well, I have completed discussing the cheapest cities to live in Japan.

For each city, I have provided an estimated monthly cost, rental, and meal price.

But, these expenses may vary a lot depending on some factors. Like if you use shared rooms and lead a minimal lifestyle, you can optimize the cost.

Even living in the countryside of Japan will give you an exciting experience, and you can minimize your budget as well.

And, don’t worry about comfort and safety as Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world.

Lastly, I hope you have a great time here alone or with your family.

Have a good day…

Frequently Asked Questions:

The expense of living in Japan differs in price compared to America.

Such as, consumer item prices are approximately 14.36% higher in Japan. And the prices of groceries are around 17.77% higher than in the US.

However, apartment rentals are approx. 50.64% higher in America than in Japan.

Also, the restaurant’s cost is 44.77% more in the US.

So, the living expense varies according to people’s needs and lifestyle.

Yet, on average, Japan is slightly more expensive than America in terms of living costs.

Eventually, Japan is a bit cheaper than some western countries. If you have a good income, you can afford to live in this country.

But, it is indeed one of the most expensive countries in Asia.

And, I would like to inform you that the house rent in big cities in Japan is relatively higher than in the countryside.

So, the expense also depends on where you live.

The living expense for a single person in Tokyo can vary from $1,700 to $3,000 per month, including food, rent, transportation, utilities, taxes, and insurance.

You can cut off the cost by 10% to 30% if you live in relatively affordable cities. 

So, the total cost to live in Japan for a year is between $15,600 to $36,000.

Adding the price of education and healthcare can make the total expense higher.