Thinking of Working in Japan? This Might Help You Decide Between the City or Countryside

Plus, the important things to consider when considering working abroad.

There’s no question about it. We’ve been made to believe that the best place to live and work in is in the city. But one might wonder if it is the same when going to Japan simply to work.

In this article, we compare and contrast the four things that matter for most people when we consider working abroad: (1) salary; (2) rent; (3) living expenses; and (4) the commute

How much can you earn in Japan?

You might imagine that the country’s capital Tokyo would have the highest minimum wage of them all—and you are not wrong. With the high cost of living, it is only natural, but the countryside is not as bad as you think it is.

The hourly minimum wage in Tokyo is ¥985 , compared to the lowest one in Kagoshima at ¥761. However, salary is not everything. 

How much does it cost to rent a place in Japan?

With the tall skyscrapers and glamorous night view, Tokyo has—as expected—the highest average monthly rent in Japan. Ranking second and third are Kanagawa and Saitama, other prefectures that surround Tokyo. Incidentally, the remaining last few prefectures don’t really have much of a difference, the reason being that they don’t really commute outside their prefectures (see average commuting time below). 

How much is the cost of living in Japan?

Again, ranking first for the amount of monthly expenses (see a trend here?) is Tokyo with an average of ¥113,557 spent by a family each month. Since we take into account their utility costs, food costs, and everything else, there is a ¥37,172 difference between the first (Tokyo) and last (Yamaguchi).

Take note that this graph is for households and not individuals who live by themselves. The numbers would be significantly lower if it were for a single person of course. 

How much time is spent commuting in Japan?

Finally, let’s look at the average commute time. 

Alas, Tokyo is
not first in this category! That is because Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama all surround Tokyo, and we can assume that people who reside in these prefectures go to Tokyo for work (not all, of course) by train. 

Tokyo has one of the most complex train lines, and with the distance, the train transfers, along with battling the early morning and late evening rush hour, the countryside with fewer people and less traffic almost seems like heaven in comparison. But, take note that in the countryside, trains come less frequently, and there is a chance that you will have to take the bus or your own car to get around depending on where you are situated, so it is wise to check first.


There are both good and bad things with living in the city and in the countryside, but really, when you take into account everything, does it make much of a difference? We don’t think so.


Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare
Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan

 (8 April 2019)

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