Finding affordability as an expat in Japan

Finding affordability as an expat in Japan

Finding affordability as an expat in Japan

Japan is often considered to be far too expensive as an expat destination, but that’s only half the truth about this unique Asian archipelago.

Many expats would admit to being fascinated by Japan’s natural beauty, ancient culture and diverse regions, but most are resigned to never experiencing its reality due to its reputation as regards the high cost of living. It’s true that Tokyo is one of the planet’s most costly cities, but few realise that the rest of the country varies between being less expensive and even affordable on a reasonable salary.

A recent Mercers’ cost of living survey unsurprisingly placed the Japanese capital as the third most expensive for expats, one place below last year’s ratings, but Japan’s second city of Osaka was rated 22nd and smaller Nagoya came in at 26th. Leaving out Tokyo and searching further afield, even on the archipelago’s secondary islands, and the story is very different. Of course, wages are lower outside the capital, but so are rental costs, food costs and even entertainment charges.

One way in which expats lose out on what are known by regular visitors as bargains are Japan’s inexpensive, high quality clothing and footwear. Unfortunately for many expatriate customers, they’re too tall, their feet are too big and their arms are too long to be able to take advantage of superb quality using long-lasting materials. The same is true for the average apartment – it’s usually tiny as are the Japanese themselves, making it uncomfortable for the average hulking expat professional male.

It’s the same with eating out, with the old rule of eating where the locals eat resulting in culinary delight at a very reasonable cost simply by discovering local favourites. It should be remembered that local wage structures don’t resemble those of expat professionals, with local prices reflecting local salaries. All in all, Japan is no more expensive than any other first world country, with its smaller cities cheaper than many of their counterparts in the Western world.

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