The cost of living in Japan vs the US

United States By Christy Lowry June 4, 2024

Japan, located off the east coast of Asia  is defined by its homogeneity, rich cultural traditions, cuisine, technological advancements and captivating natural beauty. If you’re considering a move to Japan, determine if the country’s living costs are affordable compared to where you are now. Learn how much it costs to live in Japan versus the United States.

If your family or loved ones live in Japan, send them money with Western Union. You can make transfers from your phone on the Western Union App. Transfers are fast, convenient, and can be sent directly to an account or picked up in person by the recipient.

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How do housing costs in Japan compare to the United States?

Housing costs in Japan depend on the location. Tokyo, which accounts for 11% of the country’s population, tends to be significantly more expensive than the rest of the country. For a 1-bedroom in Tokyo, the monthly rent for housing can cost upwards of 50,000 yen ($1,713). In other cities, a one-bedroom apartment in Japanese cities is approximately 82,000 yen ($562).1 Despite the large disparity between rental costs, the average rent in the United States eclipses both. As of June 2022, the average median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in a metropolitan area in the United States is $1,876.

How do food costs in Japan compare to  the United States?

When it comes to food costs, it depends on whether you prefer to dine out or cook at home. The price of groceries in Japan are approximately 18% higher than the United States. Restaurant prices in the United States are approximately 45% higher than in Japan.1 However, from a traditional culinary perspective, Japan is arguably healthier. Traditional Japanese diets emphasize fresh meals with rice, fish, and vegetables. Whereas in the United States, traditional American diets may be processed and packaged, consisting of meat, potatoes, cheese, and dairy products. Although unhealthy and healthy food options are accessible in both countries, higher levels of obesity in the United States reflect these differences in dietary choices. 3

How do transportation costs in Japan compare to the United States?

Japan’s efficient, highly modern public transportation system is characterized by its punctuality, comfort, and speed. It is known for its bullet train system that connects Tokyo to other cities and across major islands. Even with its technological advancements, the public transit system is on average cheaper than the Untied States. In New York, a subway ticket will cost $2.75, while in Tokyo, subway prices are determined by distance but range from 170 to 320 yen ($1.16-$2.19). 4

How do healthcare costs in Japan compare to  the United States?

Health insurance costs in Japan are about 155,00 yen ($1,027) annually. 1 In the United States, health insurance premiums cost about $7,911 for a single worker.5 Healthcare insurance and healthcare expenditures in the United States are considerably high, and more reasonable in Japan. In fact, the United States is known to spend the most per capita (per person) on healthcare. Japan spends $10,000 per capita, versus $4,600 in the United States. However, the quality of service is comparable, and healthcare costs in the United States tend to be more expensive. 6

If you’re planning on sending money overseas to Japan, calculate the exchange rate to see how much money you are sending. You can go to our website or download the Western Union app. If you prefer to send money in person, you visit an agent location.