Budgeting

How Much Is the Minimum Living Cost in Japan?

In my opinion, it’s important to be aware of your cash flow as if you own a company, even if it actually is your household.  I’ve been keeping track of my monthly expenses for almost one year. I use a spread sheet application. This is how it goes.

Why and how do I keep track of my expenses?

In a spreadsheet, I make two columns of lists, one is for fixed costs, the other one is for variable costs. You can make your own lists in each columns. Here is my example. Basically, fixed costs include rent, water bill, electricity bill, telephone bill, Wi-Fi bill, gym membership et cetera. Why do I put electricity bill and water bill in this column? The reason is that those are bills you have to pay monthly just like your rent. You can consider those expenses are almost fixed. Aside from them, if you have membership for Netflix or other subscription service, you can put it here.

On the other hand, for most people, variable costs should include food, commodities, laundry, transportation fee, medical care and so forth. It depends on your lifestyle. If you onw a car, gas is inevitably included. If you buy some clothing, you can have it. The thing is everything you buy should be listed. There is no exception, so that this lists allow you to visualize your living costs. Once you create your own lists that suit to your lifestyle, you can use it  forever. You can adjust it as needed.

Why did I start this? The reason is that I wanted to be fully aware of what I spend money on each month. If  I don’t do this, I have no idea how much do I need to make ends meet and how much can I send money to my family abroad, how much can I set aside money for my savings. That way, now I’m able to be mindful about my expenses. I guess this is useful for other common people like me.  You can get my example of a cash flow sheet down below.

Rent and other bills for my housing

Let’s take a closer look at my monthly expenses. First of all, let me start off with the rent. My monthly rent is 420 US dollars. I am single, living in an apartment in Chiba Prefecture, which is 10 minutes away from Tokyo. When I moved in here, I chose this place because of the relatively cheaper rent compared to the average rent in Tokyo. You won’t able to find a comfortable apartment in Tokyo with this price of rent. My apartment has one room with  one kitchen and one bathroom. It has 18 square meters. It is enough for me. This is how much it costs to live alone in a small apartment near Tokyo.

My electricity bill is roughly 30 dollars per month and my water bill is around 20 dollars. They amount to 50 dollars in total. I cook everyday using electricity. By paying this bill, I can utilize the lights, the kitchen stove, the microwave oven and the electric kettle. I also use the heater or air-conditioner when needed. It depends on the season.

Bills for my telephone and Internet connection

Another thing I list in my fixed costs is bills for my telephone and internet connection, which is around 10 dollars and 35 dollars respectively. I hardly ever use my telephone to make a phone call but I still need one, because every time I have to fill out a document either online or offline, to sign up for something, or I need to get one time password that I receive to my phone, I need my telephone number.  That’s why telephone is one of my necessities. Not to mention, Wi-Fi is vital to connect to the Internet.

Gym membership and others

I also pay monthly 70 dollars for my gym membership. It is relatively cheap when it comes to gym membership in Japan, but still costly. If you opt for lifting weights on a daily basis, you need to sign up for a gym nearby. On top of this, I’m a member of DMM Eikaiwa, which provides conversational English lessons online. If you don’t have enough budget for these activities, you don’t have a choice.

Food, laundry, gasoline and everything

How about variable expenses? The most important necessity that I need to buy is food. The average cost for food is somewhere between 250 and 275 dollars each month. It depends on how many times you eat everyday, and how often you eat out. I guess you can spend less on food, if you don’t eat three meals a day. However, I find it comfortable when I spend this amount of money on food. I like to cook and eat. I spend about 12 dollars on laundry. I have my own washing machine, but after doing my laundry, I always use the drying machine at the laundromat just near my place. I spend 3 bucks each time to dry my laundry there. And you need to pay for gasoline if you own a car. Once in a while, you need to buy your socks, shoes, clothing and other stuff.

To sum it up, the minimum living costs in Japan, more specifically near Tokyo, is somewhere around 780 dollars each month. You can live a simple life with this amount of budget. If you have to pay transportation fee to go to work, you need to have more budget. If you want to have a little bit more activities to enjoy yourself or to learn something new, or to make a remittance to your family abroad, you need to earn a lot more.

That’s it! I hope this was helpful to you. If you found it interesting and helpful, just leave me a comment and share it with your friends as well. Thank you for reading!