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Costs of Moving Into Japan
One of the first things you might be worried about when preparing for a move to Japan is how much money you’ll need to have saved up before you move. It can be a couple months before your first paycheck comes in, so you’ll want to be prepared with enough money to get you settled in. There are many costs to consider, and it’s easy to overlook something. Rather than go through the work yourself, check out this guide to the initial costs of moving to Japan.
- 1. The Bottom Line First
- At MTJ, we recommend saving between $5500 and $8500 (USD) if you want to live in an apartment, and $3500 to $3800 if you want to live in a sharehouse. These prices are based primarily on prices in Osaka, so you may need to adjust depending on which area you are hoping to live in. To see where our estimates come from, we break down the costs in the following sections.
- 2. The Elephant in the Room: Rent
- There are a few options for housing in Japan, and we will guide you through that process when the time comes depending on what you’re looking for. The main options for long term housing are sharehouses and apartments. Sharehouses are like dorms. You will have your own private room, but you will share things like the living room and kitchen with other people. If you’re not interested in having roommates, then you should look for an apartment. Generally, 1-bedroom apartments in the center of Osaka will cost between $530 - $800 per month, while 1-bedroom apartments outside of the city center will cost between $360 - $530 per month, depending on quality. Sharehouse rent will be around $340 - $450 per month depending on quality.
- 3. Other Housing Fees
- Besides rent, there are other fees related to housing you need to consider. For example, many real estate agencies will require a month’s worth of rent in commission. You will also need to give the landlord a security deposit (usually 2 months of rent), an additional payment of two month’s rent to the landlord, and your first month of rent on top of that. This means that depending on which apartment you get, the initial payment for your apartment could be between $2,160 and $4,800. You need to be prepared to make a relatively large payment right at the start of your stay in Japan if you want to stay in an apartment. As a more affordable alternative, you could stay in a sharehouse. The sharehouse will probably have a contract fee and an initial security deposit, which altogether can add up to about $360. This means that the initial payment for a sharehouse could be between $700 and $910.
- 4. Furniture
- In Japan, most apartments will be completely unfurnished when you move in. Unless you plan on being an ascetic, buying furniture and appliances (even a mattress and washing machine) will be a priority. To get started, you can always look in second-hand stores, but there will be an IKEA or Nitori (Japanese IKEA) if you’re in a big city like Osaka. We recommend budgeting about $1000 for any initial furniture and appliances that you’ll need if you are going to rent an apartment, and $500 if you are going to rent a sharehouse.
- 5. The Cost of Everything Else for Two Months
- Besides the upfront costs of finding a place to live, there are lots of other things you’ll need to pay for, like groceries and transportation to name two of the big ones. According to numbeo.com, the average monthly cost of living for one person (not including rent) in Osaka is around $950. This means that for all other living expenses over two months, you should budget around $1900.
- 6. Summing It Up
- To recap, you’ll need between $2160 and $4800 for the initial payment on your housing if you’re planning on living in an apartment. You’ll need another month of rent on top of that, between $360 and $800 depending on what quality apartment you’re looking for. For living in a sharehouse, the initial payment will be between $700 and $910, plus an additional month of rent on top of that, between $340 and $450. For furniture, you’ll want around $1000 if you’re going to rent an apartment and $500 if you’re going to rent a sharehouse. Finally, for all other expenses over two months, you’ll need about $1900. If you’re going to live in an apartment, you should save about $5500 to $8500 depending on what kind of quality you’re looking for. If you’re going to live in a sharehouse, you should save about $3500 to $3800. Here’s the math at a glance:
$2160Initial housing payment + $3601 extra month rent + $1000Furniture + $1900Other costs = $5420, round to $5500
$4800Initial housing payment + $8001 extra month rent + $1000 Furniture + $1900Other costs = $8500
$700Initial housing payment + $3401 extra month rent + $500Furniture + $1900Other costs = $3440, round to $3500
$910Initial housing payment + $4501 extra month rent + $500 Furniture + $1900Other costs = $3760, round to $3800
- 7. Housing Competitiveness
- One more thing that you should know is that although sharehouses are more affordable, sharehouses are more competitive to get into. If you want a sharehouse rather than an apartment, please keep in mind that it may take longer for us to find you a place to live!