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Guide to the Cost of Living in Tokyo vs Osaka

Struggling to choose between Tokyo and Osaka? When it comes to relocating to Japan, Tokyo and Osaka are often the locations of choice as popular tourist destinations, with their stunning architecture and wide array of options for shopping and enjoying local foods


From pollution levels to must-visit destinations and the cost of living, we know there are a lot of factors that may be weighing on your mind. We have compiled this guide to compare the prices of common living expenses in both cities to make your decision that much easier.


Cost of living per month in Osaka vs Tokyo


The average cost of living in Osaka is $1296, which is 10th most expensive out of 907 in Japan. In contrast, the average cost of living in Tokyo is higher, at $1778, which is 2nd out of 907 in Japan. It is also in the top 23% of the most expensive cities to live in in the world. 


However, the average monthly salary after tax is higher to reflect this, covering living expenses for 1.6 months.


Cost of living TokyoOsaka 
Total with rent for 1 person$1778$1296
Total with rent for a family of 4$4689$3452
Without rent for 1 person$935$797
Without rent for a family of 4$2838$2379
Rent & utilities for 1 person $844$499
Rent & utilities for a family of 4$1851$1073
Food for 1 person$504$420
Food for a family of 4$1851$1117
Transport for 1 person $318$262
Transport for a family of 4$864$705
Monthly salary after tax $2854$2337



tokyo street at night


Utilities & Accommodation 


Renting a house or flat 


When it comes to monthly rent and bills, this is almost double the price in Tokyo. However, you can make savings depending on the location and variety of accommodation you are looking for.


Living outside of the city center will improve your chances of finding a cost-effective place to live. Example price ranges you can expect depending on your living requirements include:


Housing typeTokyo Osaka 
1 bedroom apartment in the city center $1052$588 
Cheap 1 bedroom apartment $610$399 
3 bedroom apartment in the city center$2582$1426
Cheap 3 bedroom apartment$1415$794
Utilities for one person$110$78.70
Utilities for a family $168$121
Internet plan (50Mbps + 1 month unlimited) $34.60$31.70


In the modern age, especially as an ALT, we know that you are going to be looking to set up internet in your new home as quickly as possible. That is why you will be glad to know that the price of an internet plan is roughly the same in both cities, with the price being slightly higher in Tokyo.


Buying a house or flat


When you are all settled into your new life and considering building a future in your chosen city, you may be looking to lay down roots and buy a house. 


You can expect the following prices on average, depending on your requirements:


Item Tokyo Osaka
Apartment in the city center (1 m2 or 10 ft 2)$8885$8110 
House in the suburbs (1 m2 or 10 ft 2)$5220 $4802 
Mortgage interest rate for 20 years 1.12%1.49%


Overall, it is slightly more expensive to buy a property in Tokyo. However, the mortgage interest rate is higher in Osaka. If you are looking for a quiet home in the suburbs just outside of the hustle and bustle of the center, this will help you save some money in both cities. 


Tokyo grocery store aisle


Groceries & Dining out




When it comes to groceries, the price varies from item to item, however your monthly shop is cheaper in Osaka than Tokyo overall. The most notable difference can be seen in the price of fruit and vegetables, which is higher in Tokyo. 


Food for 1 person$504$420
Food for a family of 4$1851$1117
Milk  (1l or 1qt)$1.49$1.46
Bread (0.5kg or 1.1lb)$1.54$1.65
Rice (1kg or 2.2lb)$3.40$2.72
12 eggs $2$2.07
Cheese (1kg or 2.2lb)$15.20$15.80
Chicken breast (1kg or 2.2lb)$8.43$7.09
Steak (1kg or 2.2lb) $24.10$23.40
Apples (1kg or 2.2lb)$7.27$4.16
Bananas (1kg or 2.2lb)$3.37$1.97
Oranges (1kg or 2.2lb)$7.03$3.46
Tomato (1kg or 2.2lb) $4.87$4.94
Potato (1kg or 2.2lb) $4.66$3.01
Onion (1kg or 2.2lb)$3.96$1.83
Water (1l or 1qt) $0.67$0.62
Coca-cola/ pepsi (2l or 67.6 fl oz) $1.82$1.56
Wine (mid-priced 750ml bottle) $9.20$13.30
Beer (0.5l or 16 fl oz) $4.58$2.37
Cigarette pack $4.58$3.84
1 week of cold medicine $16.40$12.70
Shampoo $3.09$4.79
Toilet paper (4 rolls) $1.56$2.07
Toothpaste $2$1.68




Eating out 


Expense Tokyo Osaka 
Item from a lunch menu for one person  $7.63$6.57
Dinner for 2 in a restaurant $47.10$38.30
Fast food meal $5.37$5.56
Capuccino $3.56$3.70


Trying the wide range of food that Japan has to offer is highly recommended; the cost of a few treat meals here and there are largely similar across both cities.


For those days where you are on-the-go, you will find a cheaper lunch in Osaka; this also extends to evening meals. However, the price of fast food is slightly cheaper in Tokyo.


Commuting & Transport


Especially in big cities like Osaka and Tokyo, there is a huge focus on public transport to save time and fuel emissions


If you are looking to regularly commute, this is cheaper in Tokyo as a whole, however this is balanced with the higher cost of living overall. In contrast, if you are planning to own a car instead, it is slightly cheaper to fill up your car when living in Osaka.


Transport expense Tokyo Osaka 
Local transport ticket $1.53$1.80
Monthly transport ticket$75.70$80.80
Taxi ride (8km or 5mi)$29.10$27.70
Gas/ petrol (1l or 0.26 gal)$1.27$1.18 





Shopping, Education & Health


When it comes to healthcare, access to medical care is different from places like the US, from getting antidepressants and medications for chronic illnesses to regular doctor’s appointments. 


Compared to Osaka, Tokyo is slightly more expensive in terms of education, health and fitness. However, Osaka is more expensive when it comes to getting your hair cut, or indulging in designer treats.


Expense TokyoOsaka 
Gym membership (1 month)$70.50$58.10
Cinema ticket (1 person)$13.80$13.50
Doctor’s visit $32.10$31.90
Simple haircut $20.10$23.40
Brand jeans $47$53.80
Brand sneakers $67.10$69.80
Daycare or preschool (1 month) $489$429/ month
International primary school (1 year)$16527$9787


Overall, it is more expensive to live in Tokyo as a whole compared to Osaka. However, there are higher salaries and price differences in place in other areas to balance this out. 


Are you looking to take the next step and move to Japan? Get in touch with us to learn how to start your journey as an ALT today. You can learn more about Japanese culture and social customs on our blog.