Teach English in Japan (Cost of Living)

Teach English Abroad

Teach English in Japan - Cost of Living

For standard of living and potential to save money, Japan is still one of the best countries in the world to teach English. Until recently (2006), there was a government set minimum salary for teachers in Japan of 250,000 yen per month($2500). This rule is no longer strictly followed and some schools try to pay less for novice teachers. However, with the shortage of teachers in Japan, most schools still pay in the 250,000 yen to 280,000 yen range for 25 to 30 teaching hours per week, about 10 paid national holidays and two weeks vacations. Beware of misleading salary information with some schools. One of the big chains advertises up to 3000 yen per hour ($30) for 40 minute classes. What this means is that you will be paid up to 2000 yen per class which is not a good salary considering you would have to teach 7 classes per day to earn what a typical English teacher would. Many of the schools paying per class, only have a few classes per day to offer as well so it is hard to make ends meet.Most people have the image of Japan as being an incredibly expensive country. This may have been accurate in the past, but with the decline in the value of the Japanese yen and years of low or even negative inflation, costs of living in Japan are comparable to most western countries.

Salaries are fairly consistent where ever you live in Japan but costs can very a lot. Living expenses will definitely increase the closer you get to the center of large cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, or even Nagoya, but it is still possible to save a decent portion of your salary. Most employers will pay travel expenses to work in addition to your regular salary so commuting will be covered by your employer. Many companies also arrange accommodations for teachers with some basic furniture. Expect to pay about 60,000 yen to 80,000 yen (US$600 to $800) for a shared apartment in a larger city and much less in more rural areas. Many teachers in smaller towns homestay with a Japanese family for very little money or sometimes free in exchange for English lessons.

Getting your own apartment in Japan can be difficult. You will need a guarantor, to sponsor you and it will also cost four to six months rent in gift money to the landlord. The advantage of doing this is that you will get a completely refurbished apartment at a lower rent then your company sponsored accommodation. If you are only going to be in Japan for a short time, stay in foreigner or company sponsored apartments. They are not as clean, but this will save you a lot of time and up front money. You will be responsible for your own utilities regardless where you live.

Here is a rough breakdown of costs:

  •  Rent 80,000 to 140,000 yen (US$800 to $1400) per apartment.
  • Utilities 12,000 yen (US$120) Internet and telephone 8,000 yen (US$800)
  • Income tax at about 7% 13,000 yen (US$130) per month.
  • City taxes 15,000 yen (US$150) per month. (Many teachers get away with not paying this, especially if you move a lot or are only coming for a year.)
  • Food 20,000 to 40,000 yen ($200 to $400) per month. (Western food is more expensive.)
  • One night out drinking with food, 4,000 to 10,000 yen ($40 to $100). You now which end of the scale you will be.

Some general advice:

For great quality and inexpensive clothes look shop at Uniqlo. They are everywhere and their designer T-shirts are awesome.
Men can get a 1000 yen (US$10) haircut at Qcuts, a chain of ten minute barbers.
Great quick meals can be had at chains like Yoshinoya, Matsuya and CoCo Ichi for 500 or 600 yen ($5 or $6).
Places like Starbucks, McDondald’s and Kentucky fried chicken are similarly priced to your home country.

It is quite possible to live comfortably on about 150,000 yen (US$1500) per month, meaning that it is possible to save about 100,000 yen (US$1000) per month. It is also quite easy to spend all your money on great electronics, nice restaurants and vacations to places like Thailand, Bali and the Philippines. Japan provides a great opportunity to live any lifestyle you want.

More Links

Find TEFL English Teaching Jobs in  Japan

TEFL English teaching job listings in Japan

Teach English in Japan (General Information)

A general overview of what to expect teaching English in Japan

Teach English in  Japan (Visa Requirements)

Information on visa requirements to teach English in Japan

Interviews with English Teachers in Japan

Interview with Neil Mullens, teaching English in Japan

More Information
Japan (Tourism Page)
Japan (Travel Information Page)
Japan News (Japan Today)
Japan News (News on Japan)
Japan News (Japan Times)
Japan News (Asahi)
Japan News (Kyodo)
Japan News (News Review)
Japan Classifieds (Accommodations)
Japan Classifieds (Accommodations)
Japan Classifieds (Accommodations)


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