Live in Osaka

Great things about living in Osaka

 While Osaka is the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo, the living cost is substantially lower than Tokyo. The most substantial difference is rent and property prices (for details, see here.)
Labor is also 5.6% cheaper, Tokyo’s minimum hourly wage is 888 JPY and Osaka’s is 838 JPY. Because of this trend, costs for dining out and retail shopping tend to be slightly lower than Tokyo as well.
Osaka’s culinary offerings are slightly different from Tokyo. While Osaka has four restaurants three Michelin stars, regionally there are 13 if you include if combined with the neighboring (Kyoto: 7 Kobe: 2), the city is mainly known for a wide selection of local street foods. Okonomiyaki (a sort of savory pancake with toppings you can choose), takoyaki (octopus puffs), kushikatsu (deep fried foods on skewers seasoned with a special sauce) can all be found and have a very reasonable price range (less than 1,000 JPY for a good lunch). The countless tachinomi (standing bars) are also worth the trip.
Besides from living affordability, what Osaka makes so attractive and charming is its people. Osaka people are friendly and funny.
In Tokyo, in general, people do not like talking to strangers or getting talked to by strangers. In public, people avoid eye contact as much as possible with strangers and it is very odd if someone greats a stranger on the street. People in Tokyo are always busy so even if they meet someone who they know on a street, they will keep the conversation as short as they can and try to leave as soon as possible. That is the personality of Tokyo.Osaka, however, people are more cheerful and friendly. Especially older Osakans enjoy speaking to strangers.  Even if you don’t speak a single word of Japanese, they will still smile and talk to you. You might find it easier to make friends and get to know people in Osaka than in Tokyo.

Things you should know when moving to Osaka

  • Crime rates are higher than Tokyo, but they are still relatively low compared to cities anywhere outside of Japan
  • Osakans are known for being friendly and funny. They will talk and tell jokes and their stories always have a punchline at the end. Even if you don’t get the joke, just laugh along with them and everyone is sure to have a good time.
  • Osaka people speak a unique dialect that has many words that are totally different from the standard Japanese that you will hear in Tokyo. For example, in regular Japanese, “thank you” is arigato, but in Osaka they say ookini, or in Tokyo if you want to ask “how much?” you say ikura, but in Osaka you would say nanbo.
  • Most Osaka people are huge fans of the local professional baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers.
  • Osakans eat okonomiyaki (which is very popular in Osaka) with white rice (Tokyo people would never do that).
  • There is a sizable Korean population in Osaka. The Tsuruhashi neighborhood features a Korea Town famous for delicious Korean barbeque.
  • Kushiage-Ya (Bars that serve fried kushikatsu food on skewers) are very popular in Osaka. You can even find them inside train stations.
  • Osaka is famous for comedians. Many of Japan’s funniest comedians hail from Osaka.
  • Things are cheaper in Osaka than in Tokyo.

Cost of living in Osaka

Milk (1L) JPY 193.75
Eggs (dozen) JPY 238.13
Rice (1kg) JPY 492
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) JPY 440

Rent per month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in the city center JPY 78,571
Apartment (3 bedroom) in city center JPY 184,000

Median House Price
Condo, studio/1 bedroom JPY 11,633,600
2 bedroom JPY 16,435,600


Best place to live in Osaka

Tezukayama & Kitabatake (Sumiyoshi Ward)

These are some of the most famous neighborhoods for upper class people. Lots of celebrities and famous politicians have chosen this area for their homes.
There are many big parks and shops nearby and the crime rate is extremely low.

Higashi-Toyonaka (Toyonaka City)

It is one of the most sought after and popular residential areas for families.
It is a very quiet residential place with good public schools.

Kita Ward / Fukushima Ward

In Osaka, Umeda/Osaka Station is the center of city and there is room for further development in the future. Plus, while the population of Osaka is in a downward trend, the population around the vicinity of Umeda is on the rise.


Worst place to live in Osaka

Airin Area

This place is located in Nishinari Ward and south of Shin-Imamiya railway station.

It is known for being filled with many day laborers who are mostly homeless. Thus, Nishinari is also famous, or rather infamous, as a base for Japanese yakuza (“Japanese mafia”) organized crime groups.

Everything is super cheap in this area, but that is probably because the crime rate is high and even Osaka locals keep their distance. It is highly recommended to avoid this area completely.


Great schools in Osaka

Local schools in Osaka

There were no resources available that give a ranking of public elementary schools in Osaka. However, following is a ranking that shows which areas in Osaka that have the highest academic achievement.

Areas with have the highest academic achievement in Osaka:

Suita City
Shimamoto City
Ikeda City

Source: Student’s academic performance survey conducted by Osaka Prefecture in 2012

*Note: Although it is legally possible to go to Japanese public school regardless of children’s Japanese ability, it will be extremely difficult to catch up classes if your child is not a Japanese speaker, since everything is taught only in Japanese. If you want your child to learn in Japanese public school, it is highly recommended to start sending your child to Japanese school at the age of six years old or younger (Grade 1 or earlier).


International schools in Osaka

If your child is not a Japanese speaker and older than eight or nine years old, it is much easier to choose an international school. There are a number of international schools available in Osaka and the surrounding areas.

The popular international schools that had been well established in Osaka area are listed below:
Osaka YMCA International School
Osaka International School 
Canadian Academy
Kyoto International School
Marist Brothers International School

There are two Chinese international schools in Osaka-Kobe area.
Osaka Chinese School
Kobe Chinese School

There are many Korean schools in the area as well.


Top universities in Osaka (and neighboring areas)

Because the entrance exams required to get in to private universities and public (national) universities differ, it is hard to assess them in same way. Below are the top public and private universities in Japan that are located in Osaka and surrounding areas.

Top public universities in Osaka area:
Kyoto University (ranked #19 of all universities worldwide)

Osaka University
Osaka City University
Top private universities in the Osaka area:
Kwansei Gakuin University
Kansai University
Kinki University (aka Kindai University)

Doshisha University
Ritsumeikan University

Source: 大学偏差値.biz

Note: Level of each university differs from major to major. There are other great schools in Osaka as well, depending on what major you choose.