Cost of Living in Japan

Japan, renowned for its rich culture, cutting-edge technology, and unique traditions, has become a desirable destination for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). However, with its reputation for high living costs, it’s essential for OFWs to have a comprehensive understanding of the financial landscape in Japan.

This article delves into the key factors that contribute to the cost of living in the Land of the Rising Sun, offering insights into expenses, lifestyle, and financial strategies for OFWs navigating this dynamic and diverse country.

cost of living in Japan

Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.

Surviving Expenses in Japan: A Guide for OFWs

The information presented in this article comes from a YouTube video from the OFW Vlogger who goes by the name of Pareng Peni. In this video, the vlogger talks about the cost of living in Japan. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:

The vlogger wants to tackle a common idea: that life in Japan is pricey. Many believe it’s tough for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to save money there. To set the record straight, the vlogger uses their own experiences, earnings, and costs in Japan. They’re doing this to give people a real look at the situation and help them understand if OFWs can truly save money while working in Japan. So, let’s dive into the numbers and see what’s possible.

Summary of Deductions

The vlogger provides a detailed breakdown of her earnings for the month of January, during which she worked for 17 days. In this period, she accumulated a total gross income of 228,948 yen, with no deductions accounted for at this stage. Let’s now delve into the deductions applied by the company.

The total amount deducted from her earnings equates to 45,727 yen, resulting in a net income of 183,221 yen. With these deductions accounted for, it’s time to consider the various monthly bills, each of which impacts the overall financial picture:

  • Apartment rent
  • Water bill
  • Gas bill
  • Electricity
  • Wi-Fi plans
  • Cellular phone plan

Keep in mind that when working outside, the need for mobile data becomes essential. After settling these primary bills, the next financial consideration is the monthly food allowance.

Apartment Rent

The vlogger is currently residing in her third apartment, having experienced different housing arrangements during her stay in Japan. Initially, her employer provided accommodation, a practice that commonly allows employees to seek their own homes after a certain period. The second apartment she occupied was relatively costly, leading her to relocate to her present residence.

Her current monthly rent stands at 25,665 yen. Her current abode is a spacious 2LDK, comprising two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen, making it quite roomy. Sharing the apartment with another person, the total rent amounts to 51,313 yen, split evenly between them.


  • The gas bill for January was 2,460 yen, or 4,920 yen shared between two apartment occupants, covering utilities like cooking and water heating.
  • During winter, cooking in larger quantities and refrigerating surplus food is a cost-effective strategy due to the natural cold climate preserving food longer, resulting in lower gas bills.
  • January’s electricity bill amounted to 3,659 yen or 7,318 yen when shared with another person. Electricity costs are higher in winter, mainly due to increased heater use, appliance usage (air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, laptops, and cellphones), and colder weather.
  • To save on electricity, use appliances with timers and unplug devices not in use as even on standby, they consume electricity.
  • In Japan, water bills are typically billed every two months, with the vlogger’s share at 1,025 yen per cycle, totaling 2,050 yen. Water usage includes activities like bathing, laundry, dishwashing, toothbrushing, and restroom use and varies based on the number of occupants in the apartment.

The gas bill for January amounted to 2,460 yen, or 4,920 yen when split between two occupants sharing the apartment. This bill covers essential utilities like cooking and water heating. Typically, these are the primary aspects encompassed within the gas bill.

During the winter season, a smart strategy is to prepare meals in larger quantities, storing the surplus in the refrigerator. The cold climate acts as a natural preservative, ensuring that food doesn’t spoil quickly. Consequently, less gas is expended in cooking and reheating, helping to maintain a lower gas bill.

Moving on to the electricity bill, in January, it stood at 3,659 yen. When shared with another person, the total comes to 7,318 yen. Electricity costs tend to be higher compared to gas, particularly during the winter months. This increase can be attributed to various factors, including the colder weather. During the winter, the use of two heaters in both the living room and bedroom becomes essential. Additionally, appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, laptops, and cellphones collectively contribute to the overall electricity bill.

To reduce electricity expenses, it’s advisable to use heaters and air conditioners with built-in timers, a common feature in Japanese households. Setting the timer for a few hours during the evening and morning hours helps conserve energy. It’s also crucial to unplug appliances that aren’t in use, as even on standby, they continue to consume electricity.

In Japan, water bills are typically billed bi-monthly. An example from the vlogger’s experience shows that every two months, her share amounts to 1,025 yen, totaling 2,050 yen for that duration. The amount you pay depends on your water usage, which includes activities such as bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, using toothbrushes, and the restroom. Since there are two occupants in the apartment, the water consumption is adjusted accordingly. It’s worth noting that water bills in Japan are calculated based on usage and vary between regions.

Here are some more tips that you can use to save on electricity and water while living and working in Japan:

Saving on Electricity:

  • Use heaters or air conditioners with built-in timers to manage usage during specific hours, considering the colder winters in Japan.
  • Unplug appliances when they’re not in use, as electricity costs can be relatively high in Japan.
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances to reduce power consumption and cut down on electricity bills.
  • Utilize natural light during the day, which is especially beneficial in Japan where daylight hours vary throughout the year.
  • Seal gaps around windows and doors to keep homes warm during winter and reduce heating costs.
  • Opt for LED or CFL light bulbs, which are readily available in Japan and consume less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • Ensure that refrigerator and freezer doors are sealed correctly, as electricity costs can be significant due to the constant use of these appliances.

Saving on Water:

  • Fix any leaks or dripping faucets promptly to prevent water wastage
  • Take shorter showers or install a water-saving showerhead to manage water consumption effectively.
  • Consider collecting rainwater in barrels for outdoor use, which can be particularly helpful for maintaining gardens
  • Run the dishwasher or washing machine with full loads to optimize water usage, as the cost of water can be high.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks, given the importance of water conservation in Japan, especially during dry seasons.
  • Install low-flow faucets and toilets, which are available in Japan and can significantly reduce water usage without sacrificing performance.
  • Recycle “gray water” from activities like washing dishes to water plants or flush toilets

Internet bills

  • Wi-Fi Plan: Each month, there’s a Wi-Fi plan cost of 2,860 yen, making it a total of 5,720 yen when multiplied by two. A reliable internet connection is indispensable for staying in touch with family and friends in the Philippines.
  • Phone Data Plan: The monthly bill for the phone data plan in January is 2,740 yen. Having internet on your cellphone is essential for various activities in Japan, including work and staying connected. A 6 GB data plan is common, with the flexibility to save unused data for later use.

The subsequent expense we need to consider is the Wi-Fi plan, which is a monthly payment. It amounts to 2,860 yen for her share, but when you multiply it by two, it comes to 5,720 yen. This cost typically falls within the usual range for Wi-Fi plans offered by popular internet providers in Japan. A reliable internet connection is essential for staying in touch with loved ones back in the Philippines, making this expense a necessity for most.

Additionally, there’s the expense related to the phone data plan. For the month of January, the bill stands at 2,740 yen. Having internet on your cellphone is crucial, especially if you need it for work or when you’re out and about in Japan. To ensure you have sufficient data, it’s common to subscribe to a 6 GB data plan, and often, you won’t exhaust all of it within a month. This allows you to save your data for future use, particularly since you’ll have access to Wi-Fi at home. With this plan, you can use your cellphone data while you’re on the go.

These essential expenses cater to the need for a seamless online experience, which is vital for both work and staying connected with family and friends, especially when you’re living far from your home country.

Food Allowance

  • Allocating 25,000 yen for groceries covers essentials like rice, meat, vegetables, eggs, fruits, and beverages, leaving room for snacks or dining out.
  • Consider shopping at Costco or local butcher shops for cost-effective options, including bulk purchases that lead to savings, especially on meat.
  • If budget-friendly options are limited in your area, maintaining a tighter budget becomes necessary due to rising living costs in Japan.
  • All expenses considered, the total food allowance amounts to 63,409 yen, leaving 119,812 yen in your pocket. Being mindful of expenses is crucial for financial stability, particularly in times of price increases.

Now, let’s break down the food allowance. In the post-COVID era, living expenses have seen an uptick. Allocating 25,000 yen for your groceries is a wise move. This sum covers essential items like rice, meat, veggies, eggs, fruits, and beverages. Additionally, it leaves room for occasional snacks or dining out at restaurants. While this is a prudent budget, consider the option of shopping at Costco. Here, buying in bulk offers significant savings, even when it comes to purchasing meat for an entire month.

Alternatively, explore local butcher shops where you can find reasonably priced meat, with some offering special deals on Saturdays.

However, if there isn’t a similar budget-friendly option in your area, you might have to stick to a tighter budget, as living costs in Japan have been on the rise. When you add up all these expenses, the total comes to 63,409 yen. Deduct this from your net salary, and you’ll find yourself with 119,812 yen. In times when prices seem to be increasing, being mindful of your expenses is essential for financial stability.

Monthly Remittances and Other Personal Expenses

  • Vlogger sends a monthly remittance to the Philippines, often essential for supporting family back home. Due to changes in overtime pay, the remittance now amounts to 50,000 yen.
  • remaining sum plays a significant role in your personal financial priorities, including financial obligations in the Philippines.
  • For the vlogger, monthly deductions include 40,000 yen for payments related to purchases made in the Philippines and an additional 10,000 yen set aside for insurance in her home country. After these deductions, she’s left with 19,812 yen, which she allocates to her emergency fund.
  • Having an emergency fund is crucial for any overseas Filipino worker, providing a financial safety net for unexpected expenses or emergencies. It offers peace of mind and a sense of security, especially when her account balance hits zero.
  • The vlogger’s extensive experience in Japan means she doesn’t need to frequently purchase new items, and her food allowance ensures she never goes hungry, always keeping 20 kilos of rice as a staple.

After covering those initial expenses, the vlogger still needs to send a monthly remittance to the Philippines for her loved ones. Due to the loss of her overtime pay, her remittance now amounts to 50,000 yen. Even after these deductions, she’s left with 69,812 yen. This is where personal financial priorities come into play, as you might have additional financial obligations in the Philippines. However, if you don’t have such expenses, the remainder becomes a substantial part of your savings, especially when converted to pesos.

For the vlogger, monthly deductions include 40,000 yen for payments related to purchases made in the Philippines and an additional 10,000 yen set aside for insurance in her home country. After these deductions, she’s left with 19,812 yen, which she wisely allocates to her emergency fund. This financial cushion provides her with peace of mind and a sense of security. Even when her account balance hits zero, knowing that she has an emergency fund in place gives her confidence.

Having an emergency fund is a crucial consideration for any overseas Filipino worker. It’s a financial safety net that can prove invaluable in times of unexpected expenses or emergencies. With her considerable experience in Japan, vlogger is well-prepared and doesn’t need to purchase new items frequently. Additionally, her food allowance ensures she never goes hungry, with 20 kilos of rice always on hand – an essential staple for her.

How to Set Up an Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund is a financial essential. It serves as a safety net, providing peace of mind and security when unexpected expenses or emergencies arise. For overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), this fund is even more critical, as it offers a buffer against the uncertainties of life away from home. Building an emergency fund is a simple yet powerful way to achieve financial stability. Here’s how to set up your own emergency fund:

  • Define Your Financial Goals: Start by identifying your specific financial objectives for your emergency fund. Determine how much you’d like to save, keeping in mind factors like monthly expenses, healthcare costs, and potential emergencies.
  • Open a Dedicated Savings Account: Open a separate savings account for your emergency fund. This will help you keep the money separate from your regular spending, reducing the temptation to dip into it for non-emergencies.
  • Set a Realistic Monthly Savings Target: Decide how much you can comfortably set aside each month to fund your emergency savings. This could be a fixed amount or a percentage of your monthly income.
  • Automate Your Savings: Make saving a priority by setting up automatic transfers from your primary account to your emergency fund. This ensures consistent contributions and reduces the risk of spending the money elsewhere.
  • Cut Unnecessary Expenses: Identify areas where you can cut back on expenses. This might include dining out less, reducing subscription services, or finding more cost-effective alternatives for daily spending.
  • Reassess Your Fund Periodically: As your financial situation changes, your emergency fund needs may also evolve. Periodically reassess your goals and adjust your savings target as needed.
  • Use Your Emergency Fund Wisely: Only dip into your fund for genuine emergencies, such as medical bills, unexpected home repairs, or job loss. Avoid using it for non-urgent expenses.
  • Avoid Debt by Being Prepared: Having an emergency fund minimizes the need to rely on high-interest loans or credit cards during tough times, helping you avoid accumulating debt.
  • Stay Disciplined and Stay the Course: Building an emergency fund requires discipline and time. Stay committed to your savings plan, and don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to reach your financial goals.
  • Celebrate Milestones: When you reach your emergency fund goals or hit savings milestones, take a moment to celebrate your financial achievements. This can be motivating and make the process more rewarding.

In summary, navigating the cost of living in Japan as an overseas Filipino worker is indeed a financial challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be managed with careful planning, frugality, and a commitment to financial stability. As demonstrated by the vlogger’s personal experience, creating a realistic budget, exploring cost-saving opportunities like shopping in bulk, and allocating funds to essential categories such as an emergency fund can significantly ease the financial strain.