Japan is infamous for its high cost of living, especially in big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. That said, the cost of living in the country is gradually reducing. Still, it's best to budget according to income earned in Osaka rather than continually converting to one's familiar home currency.

Depending on where expats come from, they can be overwhelmed by the cost difference, but local purchasing power is likely to be much stronger. It's important to estimate whether an expat's expected income will cover all the necessary costs and negotiate their employment contract accordingly. The city ranked 93rd out of the 227 expat destinations in Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living survey.


Cost of accommodation in Osaka

The cost of accommodation in Osaka is likely to take up a sizeable portion of an expat's income. In Osaka, the larger properties with more rooms charge higher rents, even outside the city centre. That said, expats moving to Osaka will be relieved to see significantly lower rental costs than in Tokyo.

Expats will also need to account for utilities in their monthly budget, as these are fairly pricey. They should also budget for reikin, or key money, a non-refundable payment to the landlord, as well as shikikin, the refundable security deposit.


Cost of transport in Osaka

While getting around in Osaka with public transport is efficient and affordable, expats should consider the various options before deciding on their preferences. Getting a monthly pass and public transport card lowers the cost significantly. Bicycles are also common in Osaka and are another cost-effective, not to mention healthy, way to travel.

Although they are popular and convenient, taxis and ride-hailing services are costly and largely an unsustainable way to travel daily. The cost of owning a car in Japan is substantial. Besides the car's purchase price, owners must factor in mandatory bi-annual inspections (shaken), car tax, insurance, parking and fuel costs.


Cost of groceries in Osaka

In Osaka, eating out may sometimes be cheaper than buying groceries, but this depends on the quality of food and the cuisine that expats prefer. While vegetables and fruit might seem rather expensive at first, expats should bear in mind that they are always top quality, super fresh and usually locally grown. Seafood can be found at reasonable prices, and many supermarkets offer evening discounts to get rid of the day's stock.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Osaka

Renowned for its culinary scene and vibrant nightlife, Osaka offers expats a range of entertainment options. However, the cost of these can vary considerably based on the type of activity and location. Expats keen on exploring the city's attractions will find that many of them, such as Osaka Castle or Sumiyoshi Taisha, are reasonably priced or even free. Festivals and annual events in Osaka also offer excellent entertainment opportunities at varying costs.

From classy bars to hole-in-the-wall whiskey spots, Osaka has something to suit all nightlife lovers. Revellers will find that drink prices and cover charges at bars and clubs can accumulate quickly, requiring careful budgeting.

Osaka, known as the 'Kitchen of Japan', offers diverse dining from affordable street food like takoyaki to pricey upscale restaurants, particularly in districts such as Dotonbori and Namba. Eating out can be comparable in cost to groceries, depending on the cuisine and place.


Cost of education in Osaka

Education in Osaka, like in much of Japan, is known for its high standards but also for its substantial costs, especially for international schools. Expats enrolling their children in local schools will find prices relatively lower, but the language could be a significant barrier.

While offering a more familiar curriculum and language of instruction, international schools in Osaka are a costlier option. There may also be additional costs for enrolment, uniforms and extracurricular activities. Expat parents need to budget for this significant expense and consider it when negotiating their employment contracts.


Cost of healthcare in Osaka

The cost of healthcare in Osaka can be somewhat steep, especially for non-residents. Japan has a national health insurance system that generally covers 70 percent of healthcare costs, but expats may need to consider additional private health insurance to cover all their healthcare needs.

The cost of private health insurance will depend on various factors, including age and health status. Expats should also factor in the cost of prescription medication, which can vary widely and typically has a 30 percent copay.


Cost of living in Osaka chart

Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows the average prices for Osaka in July 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 169,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 105,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 77,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 49,000

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

JPY 300

Milk (1 litre)

JPY 189

Rice (1kg)

JPY 500

Loaf of white bread

JPY 191

Chicken breasts (1kg)

JPY 420

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

JPY 470

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

JPY 5,900

Big Mac meal

JPY 710

Coca-Cola (330ml)

JPY 178

Cappuccino

JPY 430

Bottle of beer (local)

JPY 240

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

JPY 57

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

JPY 3,800

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

JPY 15,000

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

JPY 460

City-centre public transport fare

JPY 220

Gasoline (per litre)

JPY 147

Expat Health Insurance

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