Living affordably as an expat in Tokyo

Living affordably as an expat in Tokyo

Living affordably as an expat in Tokyo

New expat arrivals in Tokyo could be forgiven for feeling totally confused over exactly where to base themselves in this massive, confusing city.

Although Japan isn’t yet a major destination for those expat professionals who don’t have an immediate job, it’s still one of the most rewarding locations for adventurous entrepreneurs. Adjustment to Japan’s unique culture isn’t easy, and the sheer size of the sprawling mega-city can act as a deterrent when finding affordable
accommodation. As regards costs, the same rules apply as in other major world cities – the more fashionable the location, the higher the rentals.

The city is divided into districts, often linked to the commercial and other activities each area provides, and transportation by subway is relatively cheap and very easy, even for those who don’t speak Japanese. Close by the financial centre, the shopping hubs and the historically famous areas, smaller areas can provide a more peaceful and relaxed vibe for newly-arrived expats.

One such is Ebisu, set close by the teeming streets of Shibuya and offering trendy pubs, picturesque eateries and standing bars, none of which encroach on the area’s laid-back charms. It’s a popular base for Tokyo’s expat professionals but the vibe is still totally Japanese and its subway station provides links to nearby Yokohama and many other Tokyo districts. Real estate rental costs range from budget to high-end, with $1,000 a month an average. If you’re lucky and arriving due to a reassignment, you may well find your company is located in this attractive suburb.

For expats who don’t mind not being in the heart of the city, Hamura is a good choice for its manageable size and location surrounded by nature. Tourists don’t know this peaceful district even exists, yet it’s just a short drive from the central heart of Tokyo. For expats fascinated by Japanese heritage and history there’s a 7th century shrine and the Maimaizu Wall dating from the Edo period, and the local museum can tell much more about the history of the area.

Shopping in Hamura is easy with a choice of supermarkets, malls and local shops, and the area is known for its plethora of restaurants, both typical Japanese and Western. Connection with Tokyo is by train and, for days off, the area is surrounded by small towns reachable on foot or by a very short train journey. Hamura property is far cheaper than in the Tokyo wards, with small apartments costing around $400 monthly. The area is quiet, safe and authentically Japanese, ensuring comfort and a peaceful environment.

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