It’s always valuable to look before you leap. After taking several trips to Japan, I really loved it and was curious what it might be like to move there.
GoinGlobal had a solid breakdown of the cost of living in Tokyo that I found pretty accurate based on my travels.
A frugal single person might live in Tokyo on about $1,103 USD a month (excluding rent); and a family of four can get by on about $3,984 USD a month (excluding rent), according to Numbeo. However, living costs vary a good deal, depending on lifestyle and accommodations.
Housing is very interesting.
For renting, you can spend anywhere from $1700 per month for a furnished 480 sq ft apartment in an average cost surrounding area in west Tokyo, up to a astronomical $4000 per month for a 900 sq ft furnished apartment in one of the Tokyo wards. As a foreigner, you will almost certainly need a guarantor who is financially liable in case a renter fails to pay rent or make necessary repairs. Even more shocking, renting an apartment also involves a number of fees – fees that can cost the equivalent of five to six months’ rent or more. As an alternative, there is shared housing setups where you can share common spaces. In shared housing, you can renting a simple guest room for $400/mo.
As for buying a place, as a foreigner, it is pretty much off the table until Japan is listed as your official residency and you have at least 2 years of employment with your firm. If you’re curious, prices can range from $7800 per square foot in the western suburbs of Tokyo, up to a jaw dropping $11,000 per square foot in the main wards.