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Japan is known for being an expensive country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable places to live if you know where to look.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the most budget-friendly cities and towns in Japan that offer a high quality of life without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking for a quick answer, some of the most affordable places to live in Japan include Fukuoka, Osaka, Hokkaido, Okinawa, and smaller cities like Matsuyama and Kitakyushu.

Major Cities with Reasonable Cost of Living

Japan is often perceived as an expensive country to live in, but there are several cities with a reasonable cost of living. If you’re looking for affordable options, consider these major cities:


Fukuoka, located in southwestern Japan, is known for its vibrant street food scene, historic temples, and beautiful parks.

Despite being the largest city in Kyushu, Fukuoka offers a lower cost of living compared to Tokyo and Osaka. Rent prices, in particular, are significantly more affordable here.

Additionally, Fukuoka boasts a well-developed transportation system, making it easy to get around the city without breaking the bank.


Osaka, the second-largest city in Japan, is a popular destination for both tourists and expats.

Known for its friendly locals, delicious street food, and vibrant nightlife, Osaka offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to Tokyo.

Rent prices in Osaka are generally lower, and the city also offers a wide range of affordable dining options.

With its efficient public transportation system, living in Osaka can be a great option for those seeking a balance between city life and affordability.

Sapporo, Hokkaido

Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, is famous for its stunning natural landscapes and annual snow festival. Despite being a major city, Sapporo offers a lower cost of living compared to other metropolitan areas in Japan.

Rent prices in Sapporo are relatively affordable, and the city’s transportation system is efficient and cost-effective.

Additionally, Sapporo boasts a high quality of life, with a wide range of recreational activities and cultural events available throughout the year.

When considering the cost of living in these cities, it’s important to note that expenses can vary depending on individual lifestyle choices.

However, overall, Fukuoka, Osaka, and Sapporo offer a more affordable alternative to the bustling metropolises of Tokyo and Kyoto.

It’s always a good idea to research and compare prices for specific goods and services in each city to make an informed decision about where to live.

Smaller Cities and Towns with Low Cost of Living

While Tokyo and Osaka may be the first cities that come to mind when thinking about living in Japan, there are plenty of smaller cities and towns that offer a much lower cost of living without compromising on quality of life.

These hidden gems provide a unique experience and a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. Here are a few affordable options to consider:


Matsuyama, located on the island of Shikoku, is a charming city with a rich history and a laid-back atmosphere.

Despite being the capital of Ehime Prefecture, Matsuyama has managed to maintain its affordability.

The cost of housing, groceries, and transportation in Matsuyama is significantly lower than in larger cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

With its beautiful hot springs, historic castle, and picturesque streets, Matsuyama offers a high quality of life at a fraction of the cost.

Kita Kyushu

In the northern part of Kyushu island lies Kita Kyushu, a city known for its industrial heritage and natural beauty.

Kita Kyushu offers a low cost of living, making it an ideal choice for those looking to save money while still enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.

The city boasts a range of affordable housing options, delicious local cuisine, and stunning natural attractions such as Mount Sarakura and the Kanmon Strait.

Plus, with its proximity to Fukuoka, a major transportation hub, Kita Kyushu provides easy access to other parts of Japan.


Kochi, located on the island of Shikoku, is a hidden gem that offers an affordable and relaxed lifestyle. Known for its stunning coastline, lush mountains, and delicious local cuisine, Kochi is a paradise for nature lovers.

The cost of living in Kochi is significantly lower than in larger cities, and the laid-back atmosphere creates a sense of community and belonging.

Whether you’re exploring the historic Kochi Castle, sampling fresh seafood at the local markets, or simply taking in the breathtaking scenery, living in Kochi is an experience like no other.

These smaller cities and towns in Japan offer a fantastic alternative to the hustle and bustle of the major metropolitan areas.

With their low cost of living, rich cultural heritage, and stunning natural beauty, they provide an opportunity to experience the true essence of Japan without breaking the bank.

So why not consider these affordable options and embark on an adventure that’s both economical and unforgettable?

Rural and Suburban Areas

When it comes to finding cheap places to live in Japan, rural and suburban areas are definitely worth considering.

These areas offer a slower pace of life, beautiful natural landscapes, and lower living costs compared to big cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

Here are a few places you might want to consider:

Hokkaido Countryside

The Hokkaido countryside is a dream destination for nature lovers. With its vast open spaces, stunning mountains, and picturesque landscapes, it offers a peaceful and serene living experience.

The cost of living in the Hokkaido countryside is generally lower compared to urban areas.

Rent prices for apartments and houses are more affordable, and the overall cost of groceries and daily necessities is also lower.

If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, or fishing, Hokkaido’s countryside is the perfect place for you.

Ibaraki Prefecture

Ibaraki Prefecture, located just north of Tokyo, is another great option for those looking for affordable living in Japan. While it is close to the bustling city, Ibaraki offers a more relaxed and peaceful lifestyle.

The cost of living in Ibaraki is significantly lower compared to Tokyo, with lower rent prices and cheaper transportation costs.

The prefecture is known for its beautiful countryside, scenic parks, and historical sites.

It’s an ideal place for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a quieter living environment.

Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture, located in the Kanto region, is a popular choice for those looking to escape the high living costs of Tokyo.

The prefecture offers a mix of rural and suburban areas, providing a good balance between natural beauty and modern conveniences.

With its hot springs, historic temples, and stunning landscapes, Tochigi offers a high quality of life at a more affordable price.

Rent prices in Tochigi are generally lower compared to Tokyo, and the cost of groceries and other daily necessities is also more budget-friendly.

Living in rural and suburban areas in Japan can be a wonderful experience, offering a peaceful lifestyle and a chance to immerse yourself in the country’s natural beauty.

It’s important to research and explore different regions to find the perfect place that suits your needs and preferences.

Okinawa and Other Southern Islands

If you’re looking for cheap places to live in Japan with a tropical twist, the southern islands are worth considering.

Okinawa, the main island in the region, is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant marine life, and unique culture.

The cost of living in Okinawa is generally lower compared to major cities like Tokyo or Osaka, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.

Okinawa Main Island

Okinawa Main Island offers a variety of affordable housing options, ranging from apartments to traditional Okinawan houses.

The island is also home to numerous supermarkets and local markets where you can find fresh produce at reasonable prices.

Transportation costs in Okinawa are relatively low, with an efficient bus system that connects different parts of the island.

When it comes to leisure activities, Okinawa Main Island has plenty to offer. From exploring historical sites like Shuri Castle to enjoying water sports such as snorkeling and diving, there’s no shortage of things to do.

The island’s warm climate and picturesque landscapes make it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts.


While Japan has a reputation for being expensive, there are plenty of affordable cities, towns, and rural areas across the country if you know where to look.

By avoiding the most touristy and metropolitan areas like Tokyo and instead looking at major cities like Osaka and Fukuoka or smaller cities in the countryside, you can find a high quality of life in Japan without breaking the bank.

With low costs of living, reasonable housing prices, and proximity to nature, these overlooked parts of Japan offer budget-friendly living.

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